How to Choose the Best Welding Certificate Program near Meridianville Alabama
Choosing the ideal welder vocational school near Meridianville AL is an important first step to beginning your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are a lot of schools to select from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more significantly, once you have fine tuned your alternatives, how do you pick the best one? Most prospective students begin by looking at the schools that are closest to their residences. Once they have found those that are within driving distance, they gravitate toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and tuition cost are important considerations when reviewing welding vocational schools, but they are not the only ones. Other considerations 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 wise to develop 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.
Welding Certificate and Degree Training Programs
There are several options available to receive training as a welder in a trade or technical 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 degrees than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Following are brief explanations of the most common welding programs available in the Meridianville AL area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are normally made available by trade and technical schools and require about a year to finish. They are more hands-on training in nature, fashioned primarily to develop welding skills. They can furnish a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or supplemental skills for working welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take 2 years to complete and are usually offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology offers a more extensive education than the certificate or diploma while still providing the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
Some municipalities and states do have licensing requirements for welders, so be sure to find out for your location of potential employment. As needed, the welding school you pick should prep you for any licensing exams that you will need to take in addition to furnishing the proper training to become a qualified welder.
Welder Certification Choices
There are several organizations that offer welder certifications, which evaluate the knowledge and skill level of those applying. Numerous Meridianville AL employers not only require a degree or certificate from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a respected organization such as the American Welding Society (AWS). A variety of certifications are offered based on the kind of work that the welder does. A few of the things that certification can attest to are the welder's ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specific metal thicknesses
- Work with certain kinds of welds
- Operate in compliance with contract specifications
As already mentioned, various states, cities or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those calling for licensing, some additionally require certification for different kinds of work. Certification is also a means to prove to employers that you are an exceptionally skilled and qualified welder. So similarly as with licensing, look into the requirements for your location and verify that the welder trade school you decide on prepares you for certification if needed.
Subjects to Ask Welding Vocational Programs
When you have chosen 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 vocational and trade schools in the Meridianville AL area. That's why it's essential to decide up front what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have previously covered two important ones that most people look at 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 program you decide on is going to provide the training that will be the foundation of your new career as a welder. So following are some additional factors you might need to evaluate before selecting a welding tech school.
Accreditation. It's very important that the welding tech school you decide on is accredited by either a national or a regional agency. There are 2 basic types 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, for instance Welding Technology. So make sure that the program you pick is accredited, not just the school alone. Additionally, 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 ensure that you obtain a superior education, the accreditation can also assist in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases not offered in Meridianville AL for non-accredited schools. Finally, for those states or local governments that mandate licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited also.
Job Placement and Apprenticeship Programs. Many welding degree or diploma programs are offered combined with an apprenticeship program. Various other schools will help place you in a job or an apprenticeship upon graduation. Ask if the schools you are considering assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. These schools must have relationships 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 rely upon for placements. These programs can help students find employment and develop relationships within the Meridianville AL welding community.
Job Placement and Completion 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 program you pick has a higher completion rate. A reduced rate may indicate that the students who were in the program were unhappy with the training, the instructors, or the facilities, and dropped out. The job placement rate is also a good indicator of the caliber of training. A higher job placement rate will not only verify that the school has a good reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of Meridianville AL contacts to assist students secure employment or apprenticeships upon graduation.
Up-to-date Equipment and Facilities. Once you have decreased your choice of welder programs 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. Specifically, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be working with in the field. 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 Meridianville AL welding contractor if they can give you some tips.
School Location. Although we already briefly talked about the importance of location, there are a few additional points that we need to deal with. You should remember that unless you can relocate, the welder school you choose must be within commuting distance of your Meridianville AL home. If you do opt 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 certificate programs offered by community colleges. Furthermore, 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 should be in an area or state where you subsequently will wish to work.
Small Classes. One-on-one instruction is important for a manual trade such as welding. It's possible to get lost in larger classes and not obtain much individualized instruction. Ask what the typical class size is for the welding programs you are reviewing. Ask if you can sit in on a few classes so that you can see just how much individual attention the students are receiving. While there, talk with several of the students and get their opinions. Similarly, speak with a few of the teachers and ask what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they hold.
Flexible Class Schedules. Some people learn a new profession while still working at their current job. Make sure that the class schedules for the schools you are reviewing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Meridianville AL, verify that the schools you are assessing provide those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you pick offers part-time enrollment. Also, check to see what the policy is to make up classes if you you miss any because of work, sickness or family circumstances.
Choose the Right Meridianville Welding Training for Certification
Picking the right welding school will undoubtedly be the most important decision you will make to start your new profession. As we have covered in this article, there are several things that you will need to evaluate and compare among the schools you are considering. It's a must that any welder training that you are considering includes a good deal of hands-on training. Classes need to be small in size and each student must have their personal welding machine to train with. Classroom instruction should offer a real-world perspective, and the course of study should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Courses vary in duration and the kind of credential provided, so you will have to ascertain what length of program and degree or certificate will best satisfy your needs. Each program provides different possibilities for certification also. Probably the best approach to research your final list of schools is to check out each campus and talk with the students and instructors. Take the time to attend a few 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, effort and dedication, the final outcome will be a new trade as a professional welder in Meridianville AL.