How to Find the Right Welder Trade School near Meadowbrook Alabama
Choosing the right welding school near Meadowbrook AL is an important first step to starting your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are numerous schools to select from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more notably, once you have fine tuned your alternatives, how do you select the best one? A number of prospective students start by looking at the schools that are nearest to their residences. When they have identified those that are within commuting distance, they gravitate toward the least expensive one. Yes, location and tuition cost are important issues when reviewing welder technical 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 vocational school to become a welder, it's wise to establish a list of qualifications that your selected school must have. But before we explore our due diligence checklist, let's talk a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welder Degree and Certificate Training
There are a number of alternatives available to obtain 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 Technology or Welding Engineering, but are more advanced courses than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Following are brief summaries of the most typical welding programs available in the Meadowbrook AL area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are usually offered by trade and technical schools and take about one year to finish. They are more hands-on training in nature, created largely 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 finish and are usually offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology provides a more extensive education than the certificate or diploma while still supplying the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
Some municipalities and states do have licensing requirements for welders, so make sure to find out for your location of potential employment. If needed, the welding school you choose should ready you for any licensing examinations that you will need to pass in addition to furnishing the appropriate training to become a professional welder.
Welding Certification Options
There are several institutions that offer welding certifications, which test the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Many Meadowbrook AL employers not only require a certificate or degree from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a renowned agency such as the American Welding Society (AWS). A wide range of certifications are available dependent on the kind of work that the welder does. Just some of the skills that certification can attest to are the welder's ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with certain metal thicknesses
- Work with specific types of welds
- Perform according to contract specifications
As formerly mentioned, various cities, states or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those requiring licensing, many additionally require certification for various kinds of work. Certification is also a means to demonstrate to employers that you are a highly skilled and experienced welder. So just as with licensing, look into the requirements for your location and verify that the welder tech school you choose preps you for certification if needed.
Points to Ask Welding Trade Programs
When you have decided on the credential you would like to attain, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can start to compare schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are many welder trade and technical schools in the Meadowbrook AL area. That's why it's necessary to decide up front what qualifications your chosen school must have. We have already discussed two important ones that most people consider first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As stated, although they are essential 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 need to consider before choosing a welder technical school.
Accreditation. It's essential that the welder trade school you pick is accredited by either a national or a regional agency. There are two standard kinds 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, such as Welding Technology. So confirm 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). Besides helping make sure that you obtain an excellent education, the accreditation might also help in getting financial assistance or student loans, which are often unavailable in Meadowbrook AL for non-accredited schools. Also, for those states or local governments that require licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited as well.
Job Placement and Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of welding certificate or degree programs are provided combined 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 assist 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 refer their students. Older schools may have a more substantial network of graduates that they can utilize for placements. These programs can assist students in finding employment and develop associations within the Meadowbrook AL welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that start an educational program and complete it. It's important that the welder school you select has a higher completion rate. A reduced rate may indicate 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 quality of training. A high job placement rate will not only verify that the program has a good reputation within the trade, but additionally that it has the network of Meadowbrook AL employer relationships to assist students secure employment or apprenticeships upon graduation.
Modern Equipment and Facilities. After you have narrowed down your selection of welder schools to two or three options, you should think out visiting the campuses to evaluate their facilities. Confirm that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are modern. In particular, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be working with on the job. If you are not sure what to look for, and are currently in an apprenticeship program, consult with the master welder you are working under for guidance. Otherwise, ask a local Meadowbrook AL welding contractor if they can give you some pointers.
School Location. Although we already briefly covered the importance of location, there are a few additional points that we should cover. You should bear in mind that unless you can relocate, the welder school you select needs to be within driving distance of your Meadowbrook AL home. If you do opt to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides moving expenses there may be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly the case for welder diploma programs offered by community colleges. Also, if the school provides a job placement or apprenticeship program, often their placements are within the school's regional community. So the location of the school should be in a region or state where you subsequently will wish to work.
Smaller Classes. Individualized training is important for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's possible to be overlooked in bigger classes and not get much personalized training. Find out what the average class size is for the welder programs you are considering. Inquire if you can sit in on some classes so that you can see how much individual attention the students are getting. While there, speak with several of the students and get their feedback. Also, talk to some of the teachers and ask what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they hold.
Flexible Class Scheduling. Many people learn a new trade while still employed at their present job. Confirm that the class schedules for the schools you are reviewing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Meadowbrook AL, confirm that the schools you are reviewing provide those choices. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, verify that the school you decide on offers part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the protocol is to make up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family responsibilities.
Choose the Right Meadowbrook Welding Program for Certification
Picking the best welding school will undoubtedly be the most critical decision you will make to launch your new career. As we have discussed in this article, there are many things that you will need to examine and compare among the programs you are looking at. It's a prerequisite that any welder school that you are reviewing includes a lot of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be smaller in size and every student should have their own welding machine to train on. Classroom education should offer a real-world context, and the training program should be current and conform with industry standards. Programs vary in duration and the kind of credential offered, so you will need to decide what length of program and certificate or degree will best fulfill your needs. Every training program offers different options for certification as well. Perhaps The ideal means to research your short list of schools is to go to each campus and talk with the teachers and students. Invest some time to sit in on some classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the training program you decide on is the best one for you. With the proper training, hard work and dedication, the end result will be a new career as a professional welder in Meadowbrook AL.