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How to Select the Right Welding Certification Course near Madison Alabama

Madison Alabama construction welder on the jobChoosing the ideal welding trade school near Madison AL is an important first step to starting your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are numerous schools to pick from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more notably, once you have fine tuned your options, how do you pick the best one? A number of prospective students begin by looking at the schools that are closest to their homes. Once they have found those that are within commuting distance, they are drawn toward the least costly one. Yes, location and tuition cost are necessary issues when evaluating welding vocational schools, but they are not the only ones. Other factors include such things as accreditation, reputation and job placement rates. So before initiating your search for a trade school to become a welder, it's wise to create a list of qualifications that your chosen school must have. But before we explore our due diligence checklist, let's cover a little bit about how to become a welder.

Welding Certificate and Degree Training Classes

Madison Alabama welder working in fabrication shop

There are a number of options available to obtain training as a welder in a trade or technical school. You can earn a diploma, a certificate or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are offered in Welding Engineering or Welding Technology, but are more advanced programs than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available combined with an apprenticeship program. Following are brief explanations of the most prevalent welding programs offered in the Madison AL area.

  • Diploma and Certificate Programs are generally offered by trade and technical schools and require about 1 year to finish. They are more hands-on training in nature, fashioned primarily to develop welding skills. They can furnish a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or supplemental skills for experienced welders.
  • Associate Degree Programs will take two years to finish and are usually offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology furnishes a more extensive education than the diploma or certificate while still providing the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.

Many states and municipalities do have licensing prerequisites for welders, so be sure to find out for your location of potential employment. If required, the welder school you choose should prepare you for any licensing exams that you will need to take in addition to supplying the proper training to become a professional welder.

Welding Certification Choices

Madison Alabama welder welding metal frame

There are several institutions that offer welder certifications, which evaluate the knowledge and skill level of those applying. Many Madison AL employers not only expect a certificate or degree from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a renowned organization like the American Welding Society (AWS). Different certifications are available dependent on the kind of work that the welder does. A few of the things that certification can acknowledge are the welder's ability to

  • Work in compliance with specific codes
  • Work with specific metal thicknesses
  • Work with certain kinds of welds
  • Operate according to contract specifications

As earlier stated, various states, cities or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those calling for licensing, some additionally require certification for various kinds of work. Certification is also a means to prove to employers that you are an exceptionally skilled and experienced welder. So just as with licensing, check the requirements for your location and verify that the welder vocational school you decide on prepares you for certification if needed.

What to Ask Welder Trade Programs

Madison Alabama welder welding metal electrical pole

As soon as you have chosen the credential you would like to earn, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can begin to compare schools. As you can imagine, there are a large number of welder vocational and trade schools in the Madison AL area. That's why it's important to decide up front what qualifications your selected school must have. We have previously discussed two important ones that many people look at first, which are location and tuition cost. As mentioned, although they are essential qualifiers, they are not the only ones that need to be looked at. After all, the school you decide on is going to provide the instruction that will be the foundation of your new profession as a welder. So below are some additional factors you may want to evaluate before picking a welding tech school.

Accreditation. It's essential that the welding vocational school you choose is accredited by either a regional or a national organization. There are two basic types of accreditation. The school may receive Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on an individual program the school offers, for example Welding Technology. So make sure that the program you choose is accredited, not just the school itself. Additionally, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, such as the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). In addition to helping ensure that you receive a superior education, the accreditation can also assist in getting financial aid or student loans, which are often not offered in Madison AL for schools that are not accredited. Also, for those states or municipalities that require licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited also.

Apprenticeship and Job Assistance Programs. A large number of welder diploma or degree programs are offered combined with an apprenticeship program. Other schools will help place you in an apprenticeship or a job upon graduation. Find out if the schools you are looking at help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. The schools should have partnerships with local unions and other 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 develop associations within the Madison AL welding community.

Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that begin an academic program and finish it. It's essential that the welding school you select has a higher completion rate. A lower rate could signify that the students who were in the program were unhappy with the instruction, the teachers, or the facilities, and quit. The job placement rate is also an indication of the caliber of training. A high job placement rate will not only confirm that the program has a good reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of Madison AL contacts to assist students obtain apprenticeships or employment after graduation.

Modern Facilities and Equipment. Once you have narrowed down your selection of welder programs to two or three possibilities, 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 trained on are modern. In particular, the training equipment should be similar 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. Otherwise, ask a local Madison AL welding professional if they can give you some pointers.

School Location. Even though we already briefly covered the importance of location, there are a few additional issues that we need to address. You should remember that unless you can relocate, the welder school you select needs to be within commuting distance of your Madison AL home. If you do choose to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides moving costs there might be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly the case for welding certificate programs offered by community colleges. Furthermore, if the school provides a job placement or apprenticeship program, most likely their placements are within the school's local community. So the location of the school should be in an area or state where you ultimately will desire to work.

Small Classes. Personalized instruction is essential for a manual trade such as welding. It's possible to get lost in larger classes and not get much one-on-one training. Ask what the typical class size is for the welding programs you are looking at. Ask if you can sit in on a couple of classes so that you can observe just how much individual attention the students are getting. While there, speak with a few of the students and get their opinions. Also, talk to some of the trainers and find out what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they hold.

Convenient Class Schedules. Lots of folks learn a new trade while still employed at their present job. Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are looking at are convenient enough to meet your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Madison AL, verify that the schools you are considering offer those options. If you can only attend part-time, make certain that the school you pick offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the protocol is to make up classes should you miss any due to illness, work or family emergencies.

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Choose the Right Madison Welding Program for Certification

Picking the right welding school will undoubtedly be the most critical decision you will make to begin your new profession. As we have discussed in this article, there are many things that you will need to evaluate and compare among the schools you are considering. It's a necessity that any welder training that you are reviewing includes a lot of hands-on training. Classes need to be small in size and each student should have their personal welding machine to train on. Classroom education needs to offer a real-world perspective, and the curriculum should be current and in-line with industry standards. Courses vary in duration and the kind of credential offered, so you will need to determine what length of program and credential will best fulfill your needs. Each training program offers different options for certification also. Perhaps the best means to research your final list of schools is to check out each campus and speak with the students and faculty. Invest some time to monitor a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the program you select is the ideal one for you. With the right training, hard work and dedication, the final result will be a new trade as a professional welder in Madison AL.

 

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