How to Enroll In the Best Welding Vocational School near Meridianville Alabama
Locating the ideal welder trade school near Meridianville AL is an essential first step to launching 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 notably, once you have narrowed down your alternatives, how do you pick the right one? Most prospective students begin by looking at the schools that are nearest to their residences. Once they have identified those that are within driving distance, they gravitate toward the least expensive one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are important concerns when reviewing welder trade schools, but they are not the only ones. Other factors include such things as accreditation, reputation and job placement rates. So before initiating your search for a trade school to become a welder, it's prudent to establish 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.
Welding Certificate and Degree Training
There are multiple options to get training as a welder in a trade or vocational school. You can earn a diploma, a certificate or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are available in Welding Technology or Welding Engineering, but are more advanced programs than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also offered along with an apprenticeship program. Following are short summaries of the most prevalent welding programs offered in the Meridianville AL area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are normally made available by trade and technical schools and take about 1 year to finish. They are more hands-on training in scope, created mainly 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 two years to finish and are most often offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology offers a more well-rounded education than the certificate or diploma while still providing the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
Many municipalities and states do have licensing prerequisites for welders, therefore make sure to check for your location of future employment. As needed, the welding school you choose should prep you for any licensing exams that you will have to pass in addition to supplying the proper training to become a professional welder.
Welder Certification Alternatives
There are various institutions that provide welding certifications, which assess the skill level and knowledge of those applying. A large number of Meridianville AL employers not only demand a certificate or degree from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a highly regarded organization such as the American Welding Society (AWS). Different certifications are offered dependent on the type of work that the welder does. Just some of the things that certification can acknowledge are the welder's ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with certain metal thicknesses
- Work with specific types of welds
- Operate according to contract specifications
As formerly mentioned, some states, cities or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those requiring licensing, a number additionally require certification for various types of work. Certification is also a way 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 make certain that the welding trade school you decide on preps you for certification as needed.
Points to Ask Welding Tech Programs
As soon as you have decided on the credential you want to earn, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can start to compare schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are many welder trade and vocational schools in the Meridianville AL area. That's why it's essential to establish up front what qualifications your selected school must have. We have previously covered a couple of significant ones that many people consider first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As stated, although they are very important qualifiers, they are not the only ones that should be considered. After all, the school you select is going to provide the instruction that will be the foundation of your new profession as a welder. So following are more factors you might want to evaluate before choosing a welder technical school.
Accreditation. It's essential that the welder vocational school you choose is accredited by either a regional or a national agency. There are 2 basic types of accreditation. The school may attain Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a specific program the school offers, such as Welding Technology. So verify that the program you choose is accredited, not just the school alone. Also, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, for example the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). In addition to helping ensure that you get a superior education, the accreditation might also help in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases not available in Meridianville AL for schools that are not accredited. Also, for those states or municipalities that mandate licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited also.
Job Assistance and Apprenticeship Programs. Many welder diploma or degree programs are provided in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Various other schools will help place you in a job or an apprenticeship upon graduation. Find out if the schools you are reviewing assist 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 place their students. Older schools may have a larger network of graduates that they can utilize for placements. These programs can help students find employment and establish relationships within the Meridianville AL welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that enroll in an instructional program and finish it. It's essential that the welding school you select has a high completion rate. A low rate might signify that the students who were in 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 higher job placement rate will not only verify that the school has an excellent reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of Meridianville AL contacts to help students obtain employment or apprenticeships upon graduation.
Up-to-date Equipment and Facilities. After you have limited your selection of welding programs to 2 or 3 options, you should consider going to the campuses to look over their facilities. Make sure that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be taught on are up-to-date. Specifically, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be using in the field. 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. If not, ask a local Meridianville AL welding contractor if they can give you some pointers.
School Location. Although we already briefly discussed the significance of location, there are a couple of additional issues that we should address. You should keep in mind that unless you have the ability to relocate, the welder program you pick must be within commuting distance of your Meridianville AL home. If you do choose to attend an out-of-state school, besides relocation costs there could be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly the case for welder degree programs offered by community colleges. Also, if the school provides an apprenticeship or job placement program, most 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 desire to work.
Smaller Classes. Individualized training is essential for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's easy to be overlooked in bigger classes and not get much one-on-one instruction. Ask what the usual class size is for the welding programs you are looking at. Inquire if you can attend some classes so that you can experience how much individual attention the students are receiving. While there, speak with some 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. Many people learn a new profession while still employed at their present job. Check to see that the class schedules for the schools you are looking at are convenient enough to satisfy your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Meridianville AL, confirm that the schools you are assessing provide those alternatives. If you can only attend part-time, verify that the school you pick offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the policy is to make up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family circumstances.
Find the Best Meridianville Welding Program for Certification
Picking the best welder school will probably be the most important decision you will make to start your new career. As we have addressed in this article, there are many things that you will need to evaluate and compare among the schools you are considering. It's a necessity that any welding training program that you are evaluating includes a lot of hands-on training. Classes should be smaller in size and each student should have their personal welding machine to train on. Classroom education needs to offer a real-world context, and the training program should be current and conform with industry standards. Training programs vary in duration and the kind of credential provided, so you will need to ascertain what length of program and certificate or degree will best satisfy your needs. Each program provides different possibilities for certification as well. Perhaps The ideal approach to research your final list of schools is to check out each campus and speak with the students and faculty. Take the time to sit in on a few classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the training program you choose is the ideal one for you. With the proper training, effort and commitment, the end result will be a new career as a professional welder in Meridianville AL.