How to Select the Best Welding Technical School near Madison Alabama
Locating the right welder school near Madison AL is an important first step to launching your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are so many schools to select from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more significantly, once you have narrowed down your choices, how do you pick the best one? Most prospective students start by looking at the schools that are nearest to their homes. Once they have identified those that are within commuting distance, they are drawn toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are crucial concerns when examining welding trade schools, but they are not the only ones. Other considerations include such things as reputation, accreditation and job placement rates. So before initiating your search for a trade school to become a welder, it's sensible to develop a list of qualifications that your selected school must have. But before we delve into our due diligence checklist, let's talk a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welding Certificate and Degree Training Courses
There are a number of alternatives available to obtain training as a welder in a technical or trade school. You can earn a a certificate, a diploma or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are available in Welding Technology or Welding Engineering, but are more advanced courses than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also offered combined with an apprenticeship program. Following are short explanations of the most prevalent welding programs offered in the Madison AL area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are normally offered by technical and trade schools and require about a year to complete. They are more hands-on training in nature, fashioned primarily to develop welding skills. They can provide a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or specialized skills for working welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take 2 years to complete and are usually offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology offers a more well-rounded education than the diploma or certificate while still furnishing the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
Many states and municipalities do have licensing requirements for welders, therefore make sure to check for your location of potential employment. If needed, the welding school you select should prep you for any licensing exams that you will need to take in addition to providing the proper training to become a professional welder.
Welding Certification Choices
There are a number of organizations that offer welding certifications, which test the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Numerous Madison AL employers not only demand a certificate or degree from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a renowned organization like the American Welding Society (AWS). A wide range of certifications are offered based upon the kind of work that the welder performs. A few of the skills that certification can attest to are the welder's ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with certain metal thicknesses
- Work with certain types of welds
- Perform according to contract specifications
As formerly mentioned, some states, cities or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those requiring licensing, some also require certification for various types of work. Certification is also a means to demonstrate to employers that you are an extremely skilled and experienced welder. So similarly as with licensing, look into the requirements for your location and confirm that the welding technical school you choose readies you for certification if needed.
What to Ask Welding Vocational Schools
As soon as you have decided on the credential you want to obtain, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can start to compare schools. As you probably know, there are many welding vocational and trade schools in the Madison AL area. That's why it's necessary to decide up front what qualifications your chosen school must have. We have already discussed a couple of significant ones that most people consider first, which are location and tuition cost. As stated, although they are very important qualifications, they are not the only ones that should be looked at. After all, the school you select is going to furnish the education that will be the foundation of your new career as a welder. So following are some additional factors you might want to consider before picking a welding technical school.
Accreditation. It's very important that the welder technical school you pick is accredited by either a regional or a national organization. There are 2 basic kinds of accreditation. The school may receive Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a specific program the school offers, for example Welding Technology. So make sure that the program you pick is accredited, not just the school alone. Also, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, for example the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). In addition to helping ensure that you get an excellent education, the accreditation may also assist in securing financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases not offered in Madison AL for non-accredited schools. Finally, for those states or local governments that require licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited as well.
Job Assistance and Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of welder diploma or degree programs are provided in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Various other schools will help place you in an apprenticeship or a job after graduation. Ask if the schools you are looking at help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. The schools must have associations with local unions and various metal working businesses to which they can refer their students. Older schools may have a larger network of graduates that they can rely upon for placements. These programs can assist students in finding employment and develop relationships within the Madison AL welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that start an academic program and complete it. It's important that the welding school you select has a high completion rate. A reduced rate might signify that the students who were in the program were dissatisfied with the instruction, the teachers, or the facilities, and dropped out. The job placement rate is also a good indicator of the caliber of training. A higher job placement rate will not only affirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of Madison AL employer relationships to help students secure employment or apprenticeships after graduation.
Up-to-date Equipment and Facilities. After you have narrowed down your selection of welding schools to 2 or 3 options, you should consider going to the campuses to look over their facilities. Make sure that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are modern. In particular, the training equipment should be comparable to what you will be working with on the job. If you are unsure what to look for, and are already in an apprenticeship program, ask the master welder you are working under for guidance. If not, ask a local Madison AL welding professional if they can give you some suggestions.
School Location. Even though we previously briefly covered the significance of location, there are a couple of additional points that we need to address. You should bear in mind that unless you are able to relocate, the welding school you pick needs to be within commuting distance of your Madison AL home. If you do opt to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to moving expenses there might be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly the case for welding certificate programs offered by community colleges. Also, if the school offers an apprenticeship or job placement program, often their placements are within the school's local community. So the location of the school needs to be in a region or state where you subsequently will want to work.
Smaller Classes. One-on-one training is important for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's possible to be overlooked in bigger classes and not receive much one-on-one instruction. Find out what the usual class size is for the welder schools you are considering. Ask if you can attend a couple of classes so that you can witness just how much personal attention the students are receiving. While there, speak with a few of the students and get their opinions. Similarly, chat with a couple of the instructors and ask what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they hold.
Flexible Class Scheduling. Many people learn a new profession while still working at their present job. Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Madison AL, confirm that the schools you are looking at provide those alternatives. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you pick offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the protocol is to make up classes should you miss any because of illness, work or family circumstances.
Choose the Right Madison Welding Training for Certification
Picking the right welder training program will undoubtedly be the most important decision you will make to start your new trade. As we have covered in this article, there are several factors that you will need to assess and compare between the schools you are looking at. It's a necessity that any welder training that you are assessing includes a lot of hands-on instruction. Classes should be smaller in size and each student should have their own welding machine to train on. Classroom education should offer a real-world context, and the curriculum should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Training programs vary in length and the type of credential offered, so you will have to ascertain what length of program and degree or certificate will best fulfill your needs. Every program offers different options for certification also. Probably The ideal means to research your final list of schools is to visit each campus and talk with the faculty and students. Take the time to monitor a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the program you choose is the best one for you. With the right training, effort and dedication, the final result will be a new career as a professional welder in Madison AL.