How to Select the Best Welding Vocational School near Meadowbrook Alabama
Enrolling in the right welding vocational school near Meadowbrook AL is an important first step to launching 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 importantly, once you have narrowed down your choices, how do you pick the right one? A number of prospective students start by reviewing the schools that are nearest to their homes. Once they have found those that are within commuting distance, they gravitate toward the least expensive one. Yes, location and tuition cost are crucial considerations when reviewing welding trade schools, but they are not the only ones. Other considerations include such things as accreditation, reputation and job placement rates. So before beginning your search for a vocational school to become a welder, it's sensible to establish 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 Degree and Certificate Training Programs
There are a number of alternatives available to receive training as a welder in a technical or trade 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 programs 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 Meadowbrook AL area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are usually made available by trade and technical schools and take about 1 year to complete. They are more hands-on training in scope, designed largely to teach 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 2 years to complete and are most often offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology furnishes a more extensive education than the certificate or diploma while still providing the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
A number of states and municipalities do have licensing requirements for welders, so be sure to check for your location of potential employment. As required, the welding school you choose should prep you for any licensing examinations that you will need to take in addition to supplying the appropriate training to become a qualified welder.
Welding Certification Choices
There are various institutions that provide welder certifications, which assess the skill level and knowledge of those applying. A large number of Meadowbrook AL employers not only demand a certificate or degree from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a respected organization like the American Welding Society (AWS). A variety of certifications are offered based upon the kind of work that the welder does. A few of the things that certification can attest to are the welder's ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with certain metal thicknesses
- Work with various types of welds
- Work in compliance with contract specifications
As formerly stated, many cities, states or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those calling for licensing, some also require certification for various kinds of work. Certification is also a way to prove to employers that you are an exceptionally skilled and experienced welder. So just as with licensing, look into the requirements for your local area and make sure that the welding technical school you choose prepares you for certification if needed.
What to Ask Welding Trade Schools
When you have decided on the credential you want to earn, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can begin to compare schools. As you probably know, there are a large number of welder trade and technical schools in the Meadowbrook AL area. That's why it's necessary to determine up front what qualifications your chosen school must have. We have previously covered 2 significant ones that most people look at first, which are location and tuition cost. As stated, although they are very important qualifiers, they are not the only ones that should be looked at. After all, the school you pick is going to provide the training that will be the foundation of your new career as a welder. So following are more factors you may want to evaluate before selecting a welding vocational school.
Accreditation. It's essential that the welder vocational school you pick is accredited by either a national or a regional 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 has, for example Welding Technology. So verify that the program you pick is accredited, not just the school alone. Also, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, like the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping ensure that you get an excellent education, the accreditation can also help in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not available in Meadowbrook AL for schools that are not accredited. Finally, for those states or local governments that require licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited also.
Apprenticeship and Job Placement Programs. Many 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 upon graduation. Ask if the schools you are considering assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. These schools should have relationships with local unions and other metal working businesses to which they can place their students. More established schools may have a larger network of graduates that they can rely upon for referrals. These programs can help students find employment and develop relationships 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 finish it. It's crucial that the welding program you pick has a high completion rate. A lower rate may indicate that the students who were in the program were unhappy with the instruction, the instructors, 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 verify that the program has a good reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of Meadowbrook AL employer relationships to help students obtain apprenticeships or employment upon graduation.
Modern Equipment and Facilities. After you have limited your selection of welder programs to two or three possibilities, you should think out visiting the campuses to look over their facilities. Verify that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be taught on are up-to-date. In particular, the training equipment should be comparable to what you will be using in the field. 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 Meadowbrook AL welding professional if they can give you some pointers.
School Location. Although we already briefly talked about the significance of location, there are a few additional points that we need to address. You should keep in mind that unless you have the ability to move, the welding program you choose must be within driving distance of your Meadowbrook AL home. If you do opt to attend an out-of-state school, apart from moving costs there might be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially the case for welding degree programs offered by community colleges. Additionally, if the school offers a job placement or apprenticeship program, more than likely their placements are within the school's local community. So the location of the school should be in a region or state where you ultimately will want to work.
Smaller Classes. Individualized training is important for a manual trade such as welding. It's easy to get overlooked in larger classes and not obtain much one-on-one training. Find out what the average class size is for the welder programs you are reviewing. Ask if you can attend a few classes so that you can witness just how much individual attention the students are receiving. While there, speak with a few of the students and get their opinions. Similarly, talk to a few of the teachers and ask what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they have earned.
Flexible Class Scheduling. Lots of folks learn a new profession while still working at their present job. Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are reviewing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Meadowbrook AL, make certain that the schools you are reviewing provide those alternatives. If you can only enroll part-time, confirm that the school you decide on offers part-time enrollment. Also, check to see what the protocol is to make up classes if you you miss any because of work, sickness or family circumstances.
Find the Right Meadowbrook Welding Course for Certification
Selecting the best welder training program will undoubtedly be the most critical decision you will make to begin your new profession. As we have discussed in this article, there are several factors that you will need to evaluate and compare among the schools you are reviewing. It's a must that any welder training that you are examining includes a considerable amount of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be small in size and every student should have their personal welding machine to train on. Classroom education needs to provide a real-world perspective, and the training program should be current and in-line with industry standards. Courses vary in length and the type of credential offered, so you will need to decide what length of program and certificate or degree will best serve your needs. Every program provides different options for certification as well. Perhaps the best way to research your short list of schools is to go to each campus and speak with the students and faculty. Take the time to sit in on some classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the program you pick is the right one for you. With the right training, hard work and dedication, the final result will be a new trade as a professional welder in Meadowbrook AL.