How to Find the Right Welding Training Classes near Madison Alabama
Choosing the right welder school near Madison AL is an essential first step to starting your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are a lot of schools to select from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more notably, once you have fine tuned your alternatives, how do you select the right one? A number of prospective students start by reviewing the schools that are closest to their residences. Once they have located those that are within commuting distance, they gravitate toward the least expensive one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are necessary concerns when reviewing welding technical schools, but they are not the only ones. Other factors 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 prudent to establish 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.
Welding Degree and Certificate Training
There are multiple alternatives available to get training as a welder in a trade or vocational school. You can obtain 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 summaries of the most common welding programs offered in the Madison AL area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are usually offered by trade and technical schools and take about a year to complete. They are more hands-on training in nature, fashioned mainly to develop welding skills. They can furnish a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or additional skills for working welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take 2 years to complete and are most often offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology offers a more extensive education than the diploma or certificate while still furnishing the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
Some municipalities and states do have licensing prerequisites for welders, so be sure to check for your location of potential employment. As needed, the welding school you select should prep you for any licensing exams that you will have to take in addition to furnishing the suitable training to become a professional welder.
Welding Certification Alternatives
There are various organizations that provide welding certifications, which assess the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Numerous 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). Different certifications are available based on the kind of work that the welder performs. Just some of the things that certification can acknowledge are the welder's ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specified metal thicknesses
- Work with certain kinds of welds
- Work according to contract specifications
As already mentioned, some cities, states or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those requiring licensing, a number also require certification for different types of work. Certification is also a means to prove to employers that you are an extremely skilled and experienced welder. So just as with licensing, check the requirements for your local area and make certain that the welding technical school you select preps you for certification if needed.
What to Ask Welding Technical Schools
After you have chosen the credential you want to earn, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can start to compare schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are many welding trade and vocational schools in the Madison AL area. That's why it's important to decide in advance what qualifications your selected school must have. We have previously covered a couple of significant ones that many people consider first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As stated, although they are very important qualifications, they are not the only ones that need to be considered. After all, the program you choose is going to furnish the training that will be the foundation of your new profession as a welder. So following are more factors you might need to evaluate before picking a welding tech school.
Accreditation. It's essential that the welder trade school you decide on is accredited by either a regional or a national agency. There are two standard types of accreditation. The school may earn Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on an individual program the school has, for example Welding Technology. So verify that the program you pick is accredited, not just the school itself. Also, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, such as the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping ensure that you get a superior education, the accreditation may also assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases not offered in Madison AL for non-accredited schools. Finally, for those states or municipalities that mandate licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited also.
Apprenticeship and Job Assistance Programs. A large number of welding degree or diploma programs are offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Various other schools will assist in placing you in an apprenticeship or a job after graduation. Find out if the schools you are looking at help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. These schools must have partnerships with local unions and various metal working businesses to which they can place their students. More established schools may have a more substantial network of graduates that they can rely upon for referrals. These programs can help students find employment and develop associations within the Madison AL welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that start an academic program and finish it. It's essential that the welding program you choose has a higher completion rate. A lower rate might signify that the students who joined the program were unhappy with the instruction, the teachers, or the facilities, and dropped out. The job placement rate is also an indication of the caliber of training. A higher job placement rate will not only confirm that the program has a good reputation within the trade, but additionally that it has the network of Madison AL contacts to assist students obtain apprenticeships or employment upon graduation.
Up-to-date Facilities and Equipment. After you have limited your selection of welder programs to 2 or 3 options, you should consider going to the campuses to inspect their facilities. Verify 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 using in the field. If you are not sure 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 contractor if they can give you a few pointers.
School Location. Although we already briefly discussed the importance of location, there are a few additional issues that we should 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, apart from 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. Also, if the school provides 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 ultimately will wish to work.
Small Classes. One-on-one training is essential for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's possible to get overlooked in bigger classes and not obtain much personalized training. Ask what the usual class size is for the welder programs you are considering. Ask if you can attend a couple of classes so that you can witness just how much individual attention the students are getting. While there, talk with a few of the students and get their opinions. Similarly, chat with a few of the teachers and ask what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they hold.
Convenient Class Scheduling. Some people learn a new trade while still working at their current job. Check to see that the class schedules for the programs you are looking at are convenient enough to meet 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 enroll on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the policy is to make up classes if you you miss any due to work, illness or family circumstances.
Find the Best Madison Welding Training for Certification
Picking the best welding school will undoubtedly be the most critical decision you will make to begin your new profession. As we have addressed in this article, there are many things that you will need to examine and compare between the schools you are looking at. It's a necessity that any welding school that you are examining includes a good deal of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be small in size and each student should have their own welding machine to train on. Classroom teaching needs to provide a real-world perspective, and the course of study should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Courses vary in length and the kind of credential provided, so you will have to decide what length of program and certificate or degree will best fulfill your needs. Every training program provides unique options for certification as well. Probably the best means to research your short list of schools is to visit each campus and talk with the students and faculty. Take the time to sit in on some classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the program you select is the ideal one for you. With the proper training, effort and commitment, the final result will be a new career as a professional welder in Madison AL.