How to Find the Best Welder Vocational School near Meridianville Alabama
Locating the right welding vocational school near Meridianville AL is an important first step to starting your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are so many schools to select from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more importantly, once you have narrowed down your options, how do you pick the right one? Many people start by checking out the schools that are closest to their residences. Once they have located those that are within driving distance, they are drawn toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are important issues when examining welding trade schools, but they are not the only ones. Other factors include such things as accreditation, reputation and job placement rates. So before beginning your search for a trade school to become a welder, it's sensible to create a list of qualifications that your chosen school must have. But before we delve into our due diligence checklist, let's cover a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welding Degree and Certificate Programs
There are several options available to get training as a welder in a trade or technical 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 degrees than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also offered along with an apprenticeship program. Following are short descriptions of the most typical welding programs offered in the Meridianville AL area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are usually offered by technical and trade schools and take about a year to complete. They are more hands-on training in scope, designed primarily to develop welding skills. They can provide a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or specialized 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 well-rounded education than the certificate or diploma while still providing the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
Some municipalities and states do have licensing requirements for welders, therefore be sure to check for your location of potential employment. As required, the welder school you choose should prepare you for any licensing examinations that you will have to take in addition to furnishing the proper training to become a qualified welder.
Welder Certification Options
There are multiple institutions that provide welder certifications, which evaluate the skill level and knowledge of those applying. A large number of Meridianville AL employers not only require a degree or certificate from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a respected organization like the American Welding Society (AWS). A variety 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 specified metal thicknesses
- Work with specific types of welds
- Perform based on contract specifications
As already stated, some states, cities or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those requiring licensing, many also require certification for different kinds of work. Certification is also a means to prove to employers that you are an exceptionally skilled and knowledgeable welder. So similarly as with licensing, check the requirements for your location and verify that the welding vocational school you select preps you for certification as needed.
Subjects to Ask Welding Technical Schools
Once you have decided on the credential you want to attain, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can begin to evaluate schools. As you can imagine, there are numerous welding vocational and trade schools in the Meridianville AL area. That's why it's important to decide up front what qualifications your selected school must have. We have previously discussed 2 significant ones that many people look at first, which are location and tuition cost. As stated, although they are very important qualifications, they are not the only ones that should be looked at. 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 may need to consider before choosing a welding tech school.
Accreditation. It's very important that the welding technical school you select is accredited by either a regional or a national agency. There are 2 basic types of accreditation. The school may earn Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a specific program the school offers, for instance Welding Technology. So make sure that the program you choose is accredited, not just the school itself. Also, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, like the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping ensure that you obtain a superior education, the accreditation may also help in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are often unavailable in Meridianville 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 as well.
Apprenticeship and Job Placement Programs. A large number of welder diploma or degree programs are provided combined with an apprenticeship program. Various other schools will assist in placing you in a job or an apprenticeship upon graduation. Find out if the schools you are reviewing help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement 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 rely upon for placements. These programs can help students find employment and develop associations within the Meridianville AL welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that enroll in an academic program and finish it. It's crucial that the welding school you pick has a higher completion rate. A reduced rate might mean that the students who joined the program were dissatisfied with the training, the teachers, or the facilities, and quit. The job placement rate is also a good indicator of the caliber of training. A high job placement rate will not only affirm that the program has a good reputation within the trade, but additionally that it has the network of Meridianville AL contacts to assist students obtain employment or apprenticeships after graduation.
Up-to-date Equipment and Facilities. Once you have narrowed down your choice of welder programs to two or three options, you should think out going to the campuses to inspect their facilities. Make sure that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are modern. Specifically, the training equipment should be comparable to what you will be working with on the job. If you are uncertain 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 Meridianville AL welding professional if they can give you a few tips.
School Location. Although we already briefly talked about the importance of location, there are a few additional points that we should address. You should remember that unless you can move, the welding school you choose must be within commuting distance of your Meridianville AL home. If you do choose to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there might be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially true for welding diploma programs offered by community colleges. Also, if the school provides an apprenticeship or job placement program, more than likely their placements are within the school's regional community. So the location of the school needs to be in a region or state where you ultimately will want to work.
Smaller Classes. Personalized instruction is important for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's possible to get overlooked in larger classes and not receive much one-on-one instruction. Find out what the usual class size is for the welding programs you are considering. Inquire if you can sit in on a couple of classes so that you can witness just how much personal attention the students are receiving. While there, talk with a few of the students and get their evaluations. Also, talk with some of the teachers and ask what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they have earned.
Convenient Class Schedules. Lots of folks learn a new trade while still working at their current job. Check to see that the class schedules for the schools you are reviewing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Meridianville AL, verify that the schools you are assessing provide those options. If you can only enroll part-time, make certain that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, check to see what the policy is to make up classes if you you miss any due to work, illness or family circumstances.
Find the Best Meridianville Welding School for Certification
Selecting the ideal welder training program will undoubtedly be the most important decision you will make to launch your new trade. As we have discussed in this article, there are many factors that you will need to assess and compare among the schools you are looking at. It's a necessity that any welder training that you are considering includes a good deal of hands-on training. Classes should be smaller in size and every student should have their personal welding machine to train on. Classroom education needs to offer a real-world perspective, and the curriculum should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Programs differ in duration and the type of credential provided, so you will have to decide what length of program and degree or certificate will best fulfill your needs. Every program offers unique options for certification as well. Probably the best way to research your final list of schools is to visit each campus and speak with the students and faculty. Invest some time to attend some classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the training program you decide on is the best one for you. With the right training, effort and dedication, the final result will be a new trade as a professional welder in Meridianville AL.