How to Enroll In the Right Welding Certification Course near Meadowbrook Alabama
Enrolling in the right welding technical school near Meadowbrook AL is an essential first step to starting your new career as a professional welder. But since there are numerous schools to pick from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more importantly, once you have narrowed down your choices, how do you pick the right one? Many people begin by reviewing the schools that are closest to their homes. 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 important considerations when evaluating welding technical schools, but they are not the only ones. Other concerns include such things as accreditation, reputation and job placement rates. So before starting your search for a vocational school to become a welder, it's sensible to develop 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 Classes
There are a number of alternatives available to receive training as a welder in a technical or trade school. You can receive a diploma, a certificate or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are offered in Welding Engineering or Welding Technology, but are more advanced degrees than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available along with an apprenticeship program. Below are short explanations of the most common welding programs offered in the Meadowbrook AL area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are generally offered by trade and technical schools and take about one year to finish. They are more hands-on training in nature, created primarily to develop welding skills. They can provide a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or supplemental skills for working welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take 2 years to finish and are most often offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology furnishes a more well-rounded education than the certificate or diploma while still supplying the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
Many municipalities and states do have licensing requirements for welders, so be sure to check for your location of future employment. If required, the welding school you choose should ready you for any licensing exams that you will have to take in addition to providing the proper training to become a professional welder.
Welding Certification Alternatives
There are various institutions that offer welding certifications, which assess the skill level and knowledge of those applying. A large number of Meadowbrook AL employers not only require a degree or certificate from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a renowned agency such as the American Welding Society (AWS). A variety of certifications are offered based upon the kind of work that the welder does. Some of the things that certification can attest to are the welder's ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with certain metal thicknesses
- Work with certain kinds of welds
- Operate based on contract specifications
As previously stated, some cities, states or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those calling for licensing, many additionally require certification for various types of work. Certification is also a way to prove to employers that you are a highly skilled and knowledgeable welder. So similarly as with licensing, look into the requirements for your local area and make sure that the welder trade school you decide on preps you for certification as needed.
Topics to Ask Welding Tech Programs
After you have decided on the credential you would like to obtain, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can begin to evaluate schools. As you probably know, there are numerous welding trade and vocational schools in the Meadowbrook AL area. That's why it's essential to determine up front what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have previously covered 2 important ones that most people look at first, which are location and tuition cost. As mentioned, although they are essential qualifications, they are not the only ones that need to be considered. After all, the school you decide on is going to furnish the training that will be the foundation of your new profession as a welder. So below are more factors you might need to consider before picking a welding trade school.
Accreditation. It's essential that the welding trade school you decide on is accredited by either a regional or a national agency. There are 2 standard types of accreditation. The school may attain Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on an individual program the school offers, for instance Welding Technology. So make certain that the program you select is accredited, not just the school itself. 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). In addition to helping ensure that you receive a quality education, the accreditation may also assist in getting financial aid or student loans, which are often 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 welding training program be accredited also.
Apprenticeship and Job Assistance Programs. Numerous welder degree or certificate programs are offered combined with an apprenticeship program. Other schools will assist in placing you in a job or an apprenticeship after graduation. Find out if the schools you are reviewing assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. The schools should have relationships 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 assist students in finding employment and establish relationships within the Meadowbrook AL welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that begin an academic program and finish it. It's crucial that the welder school you choose has a higher completion rate. A lower rate could signify that the students who enrolled in the program were unhappy with the training, the teachers, or the facilities, and quit. The job placement rate is also an indication of the caliber of training. A higher job placement rate will not only affirm that the school has a good reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of Meadowbrook AL employer relationships to assist students secure apprenticeships or employment upon graduation.
Up-to-date Equipment and Facilities. After you have decreased your choice of welding programs to 2 or 3 options, you should consider visiting the campuses to evaluate their facilities. Make sure that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be instructed on are modern. In particular, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be using on the job. If you are unsure what to look for, and are currently in an apprenticeship program, ask the master welder you are working under for guidance. If not, ask a local Meadowbrook AL welding contractor if they can give you a few pointers.
School Location. Although we previously briefly discussed the significance of location, there are a few additional points that we should deal with. You should bear in mind that unless you are able to relocate, the welding school you pick must be within driving distance of your Meadowbrook AL home. If you do opt to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to moving expenses there could be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially the case for welding degree 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 needs to be in a region or state where you subsequently will desire to work.
Smaller Classes. One-on-one instruction is essential for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's possible to be lost in larger classes and not get much personalized training. Find out what the usual class size is for the welding programs you are reviewing. Inquire if you can sit in on a couple of classes so that you can experience just how much personal attention the students are getting. While there, speak with a few of the students and get their feedback. Also, speak with a few of the trainers and find out what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they have earned.
Convenient Class Scheduling. Many people learn a new trade while still working at their current job. Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are looking at are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Meadowbrook AL, verify that the schools you are assessing provide those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, confirm that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the protocol is to make up classes if you you miss any because of work, sickness or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Meadowbrook Welding Course for Certification
Selecting the best welder school will probably be the most important decision you will make to begin your new trade. As we have addressed in this article, there are several factors that you will need to examine and compare among the schools you are considering. It's a must that any welder training that you are evaluating includes a lot of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be small in size and each student must have their personal welding machine to train on. Classroom instruction needs to provide a real-world context, and the course of study should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Training programs vary in duration and the kind of credential provided, so you will need to determine what length of program and degree or certificate will best fulfill your needs. Each program offers unique options for certification as well. Perhaps the best means to research your final list of schools is to go to each campus and talk with the students and instructors. Take the time to monitor some classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the training program you decide on is the ideal one for you. With the right training, effort and commitment, the end outcome will be a new career as a professional welder in Meadowbrook AL.