How to Find the Right Welder Certificate Program near Meridianville Alabama
Locating the right welder vocational school near Meridianville AL is an important first step to beginning your new career as a professional welder. But since there are so many schools to select from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more notably, once you have fine tuned your options, how do you pick the right one? A number of people start by checking out the schools that are closest to their homes. When they have identified those that are within driving distance, they are drawn toward the least costly one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are crucial considerations when examining welder technical 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 wise 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 Degree and Certificate Programs
There are several options to get training as a welder in a trade or technical school. You can receive a a certificate, a diploma or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are available 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. Below are brief descriptions of the most common welding programs offered in the Meridianville AL area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are normally offered by trade and technical schools and require about one year to finish. They are more hands-on training in nature, created largely to develop welding skills. They can furnish a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or additional skills for experienced welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take two years to finish 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 prepares students to enter the workforce.
Many 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 select should ready you for any licensing exams that you will need to pass in addition to furnishing the proper training to become a qualified welder.
Welder Certification Options
There are a number of institutions that provide welding certifications, which evaluate the knowledge and skill level 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). Different certifications are offered based on the kind of work that the welder does. A few of the things that certification can acknowledge are the welder's ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specified metal thicknesses
- Work with various types of welds
- Perform in compliance with contract specifications
As earlier mentioned, various states, cities or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those mandating licensing, a number also require certification for various types of work. Certification is also a way to prove to employers that you are an extremely skilled and experienced welder. So just as with licensing, look into the requirements for your location and verify that the welding technical school you select prepares you for certification as needed.
Points to Ask Welding Tech Programs
After you have chosen the credential you want to earn, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can begin to evaluate schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are a large number of welding trade and technical schools in the Meridianville AL area. That's why it's essential to establish in advance what qualifications your selected school must have. We have already covered two important ones that most people look at first, which are location and tuition cost. As stated, although they are essential qualifiers, they are not the only ones that need to be looked at. After all, the program you select is going to furnish the training that will be the foundation of your new profession as a welder. So following are more factors you may want to consider before picking a welder trade school.
Accreditation. It's extremely important that the welding trade school you pick is accredited by either a national or a regional agency. There are two standard kinds 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 sure that the program you pick is accredited, not just the school itself. Additionally, 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). Besides helping make sure that you obtain a superior education, the accreditation can also help in obtaining financial aid 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 welding training program be accredited also.
Apprenticeship and Job Placement Programs. Many welding certificate or degree programs are provided combined with an apprenticeship program. Various other schools will assist in placing you in an apprenticeship or a job after graduation. Find out if the schools you are considering 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. More established schools may have a larger network of graduates that they can rely upon for placements. These programs can assist students in finding employment and establish relationships within the Meridianville AL welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that begin an educational program and complete it. It's essential that the welding school you pick has a high completion rate. A reduced rate might signify that the students who joined 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 quality of training. A high job placement rate will not only confirm that the school has a good reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of Meridianville AL contacts to assist 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 possibilities, you should consider visiting the campuses to evaluate their facilities. Verify that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be taught on are up-to-date. Specifically, the training equipment should be comparable to what you will be working with on the job. If you are not sure what to look for, and are already 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 covered the relevance of location, there are a couple of additional points that we need to cover. You should remember that unless you have the ability to move, the welder school you choose must be within driving distance of your Meridianville AL home. If you do opt to enroll in an out-of-state school, apart from relocation expenses there might be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially the case for welding certificate programs offered by community colleges. Additionally, if the school offers a job placement or apprenticeship 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 subsequently will want to work.
Small Classes. One-on-one instruction is important for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's possible to get overlooked in bigger classes and not get much personalized instruction. Find out what the average class size is for the welding programs you are looking at. Ask if you can attend a few classes so that you can witness how much individual attention the students are getting. While there, talk with some of the students and get their opinions. Similarly, talk with some of the trainers and find out what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they hold.
Convenient Class Scheduling. Lots of folks learn a new trade while still working at their current job. Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are convenient enough to meet your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Meridianville AL, make sure that the schools you are considering provide those alternatives. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the school you choose offers part-time enrollment. Also, check to see what the policy is to make up classes should you miss any due to illness, work or family responsibilities.
Find the Right Meridianville Welding Course for Certification
Selecting the right welding training program will undoubtedly be the most important decision you will make to start your new career. As we have addressed in this article, there are several things that you will need to assess and compare among the schools you are reviewing. It's a must that any welder school that you are evaluating includes a considerable amount of hands-on instruction. Classes should be small in size and every student should have their personal welding machine to train with. Classroom teaching should provide a real-world frame of reference, and the curriculum should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Programs differ in length and the kind 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 unique possibilities for certification as well. Perhaps the best means to research your short list of schools is to visit each campus and talk with the students and instructors. Invest some time to attend 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, hard work and dedication, the end outcome will be a new career as a professional welder in Meridianville AL.