How to Select the Best Welding Vocational School near Madison Alabama
Locating the ideal welding technical school near Madison AL is an important first step to beginning your new career as a professional welder. But since there are numerous schools to pick from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more significantly, once you have fine tuned your choices, how do you pick the right one? A number of prospective students begin by checking out the schools that are closest to their residences. 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 important issues when reviewing welding technical schools, but they are not the only ones. Other considerations include such things as reputation, accreditation and job placement rates. So before beginning your search for a vocational school to become a welder, it's sensible to create a list of qualifications that your selected school must have. But before we explore our due diligence checklist, let's cover a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welder Degree and Certificate Training Courses
There are several options to obtain training as a welder in a trade or vocational school. You can obtain a a certificate, a diploma or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are offered in Welding Technology or Welding Engineering, but are more advanced degrees than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available combined with an apprenticeship program. Following are brief descriptions of the most prevalent welding programs available in the Madison AL area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are normally offered by trade and technical schools and take about a year to complete. They are more hands-on training in scope, created mainly to develop welding skills. They can provide a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or additional skills for experienced welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take 2 years to finish and are most often offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology offers a more extensive education than the certificate or diploma while still furnishing the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
A number of states and municipalities do have licensing prerequisites for welders, so don't forget to check for your location of future employment. If needed, the welder school you pick should prepare you for any licensing exams that you will have to pass in addition to supplying the proper training to become a professional welder.
Welding Certification Choices
There are a number of institutions that offer welder certifications, which test the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Many Madison AL employers not only require a certificate or degree from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a highly regarded agency like the American Welding Society (AWS). A variety of certifications are available based upon the type of work that the welder does. Just some of the skills that certification can acknowledge are the welder's ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with certain metal thicknesses
- Work with various kinds of welds
- Perform based on contract specifications
As already stated, various states, cities or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those mandating licensing, some also require certification for various kinds of work. Certification is also a means to demonstrate to employers that you are an exceptionally skilled and qualified welder. So just as with licensing, look into the requirements for your local area and verify that the welder trade school you decide on prepares you for certification as needed.
Subjects to Ask Welder Tech Schools
As soon as you have chosen the credential you want to obtain, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can start to assess schools. As you probably know, there are numerous welder trade and technical schools in the Madison AL area. That's why it's important to determine up front what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have previously discussed two significant ones that most people look at first, which are location and tuition cost. As stated, although they are essential qualifications, they are not the only ones that should be looked at. After all, the program you select is going to provide the instruction that will be the foundation of your new career as a welder. So below are some additional factors you may want to evaluate before choosing a welder tech school.
Accreditation. It's extremely important that the welding trade school you choose 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 instance Welding Technology. So make sure that the program you choose is accredited, not just the school alone. Additionally, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, for example the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping make sure that you receive a quality education, the accreditation might also help in getting financial aid or student loans, which are often unavailable in Madison AL for schools that are not accredited. Also, for those states or local governments that mandate licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited as well.
Apprenticeship and Job Assistance Programs. Many welder certificate or degree programs are provided in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Various other schools will assist in placing you in a job or an apprenticeship upon graduation. Ask if the schools you are reviewing help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. The schools must have partnerships 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 utilize for referrals. These programs can help students find employment and establish associations within the Madison AL welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that enroll in an academic program and finish it. It's essential that the welding school you pick has a high completion rate. A lower rate might mean that the students who enrolled in the program were dissatisfied with the instruction, the teachers, or the facilities, and quit. The job placement rate is also an indication of the quality of training. A higher job placement rate will not only affirm that the school has a good reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of Madison AL employer relationships to help students obtain apprenticeships or employment after graduation.
Modern Equipment and Facilities. Once you have narrowed down your choice of welding programs to 2 or 3 options, you should consider going to the campuses to inspect their facilities. Confirm that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be taught on are modern. Specifically, 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 currently in an apprenticeship program, consult with the master welder you are working under for guidance. If not, ask a local Madison AL welding professional if they can give you some tips.
School Location. Although we already briefly discussed the importance of location, there are a couple of additional issues that we need to cover. You should bear in mind that unless you can relocate, the welder school you pick must be within commuting distance of your Madison AL home. If you do choose to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to moving expenses there might be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially the case for welder degree programs offered by community colleges. Additionally, if the school offers a job placement or apprenticeship program, most likely their placements are within the school's regional community. So the location of the school should be in an area or state where you ultimately will wish to work.
Small Classes. Individualized instruction is essential for a manual trade such as welding. It's easy to be overlooked in larger classes and not receive much personalized training. Find out what the usual class size is for the welder schools you are considering. Inquire if you can attend a few classes so that you can see just how much personal attention the students are getting. While there, talk with a few of the students and get their feedback. Also, talk with a few of the instructors and ask what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they have earned.
Convenient Class Schedules. Some people learn a new trade while still working at their current job. Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are considering are convenient enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Madison AL, make sure that the schools you are assessing offer those options. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, confirm that the school you choose offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the policy is to make up classes if you you miss any because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Choose the Best Madison Welding Program for Certification
Choosing the best welder training program will undoubtedly be the most critical decision you will make to launch your new profession. As we have covered in this article, there are several factors that you will need to evaluate and compare between the schools you are reviewing. It's a necessity that any welding training that you are reviewing includes a lot of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be small in size and every student should have their personal welding machine to train with. Classroom instruction needs to provide a real-world context, and the course of study should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Programs differ in duration and the type of credential offered, so you will have to ascertain what length of program and credential will best fulfill your needs. Every program provides unique options for certification also. Probably the best approach to research your short list of schools is to check out each campus and speak with the students and instructors. Take the time to monitor a few classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the training program you select is the right one for you. With the proper training, hard work and dedication, the end result will be a new career as a professional welder in Madison AL.