How to Choose the Right Welding Technical School near Midfield Alabama
Choosing the ideal welding vocational school near Midfield AL is an important first step to starting 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 narrowed down your choices, how do you select the right one? Many prospective students begin by checking out the schools that are closest to their homes. Once they have identified those that are within driving distance, they are drawn toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are important considerations when examining welding trade 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 trade school to become a welder, it's wise to develop 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 Training Courses
There are several options available to obtain 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 degrees than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also offered along with an apprenticeship program. Below are short descriptions of the most common welding programs available in the Midfield AL area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are normally offered by trade and technical schools and take about 1 year to finish. They are more hands-on training in scope, designed 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 2 years to finish and are usually offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology offers a more well-rounded education than the certificate or diploma while still furnishing the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
Many states and municipalities do have licensing prerequisites for welders, so be sure to find out for your location of future employment. As needed, the welder school you choose should prepare you for any licensing examinations that you will need to pass in addition to supplying the proper training to become a qualified welder.
Welding Certification Alternatives
There are a number of organizations that provide welding certifications, which evaluate the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Numerous Midfield AL employers not only demand a degree or certificate from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a respected agency such as the American Welding Society (AWS). Different certifications are offered based upon 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 specific metal thicknesses
- Work with specific kinds of welds
- Perform based on contract specifications
As already mentioned, various states, cities or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those mandating licensing, many additionally require certification for different kinds of work. Certification is also a means to demonstrate to employers that you are an exceptionally skilled and experienced welder. So similarly as with licensing, look into the requirements for your location and verify that the welder tech school you select readies you for certification as needed.
Questions to Ask Welding Technical Programs
When you have decided on the credential you want to attain, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can start to evaluate schools. As you can imagine, there are numerous welding vocational and trade schools in the Midfield AL area. That's why it's important to decide up front what qualifications your selected school must have. We have previously covered a couple of significant ones that most people consider first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As mentioned, although they are very important qualifications, they are not the only ones that must be looked at. After all, the school you pick is going to furnish the training that will be the foundation of your new vocation as a welder. So below are some additional factors you may need to consider before picking a welder tech school.
Accreditation. It's very important that the welder vocational school you select is accredited by either a national or a regional 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 a specific program the school offers, for example Welding Technology. So make certain that the program you choose is accredited, not just the school alone. Also, 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). In addition to helping ensure that you obtain a superior education, the accreditation can also assist in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently unavailable in Midfield AL for non-accredited schools. Also, 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. Many welding degree or diploma programs are provided in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Some other schools will assist in placing you in an apprenticeship or a job after graduation. Find out if the schools you are looking at help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. The schools must have partnerships 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 referrals. These programs can help students find employment and establish relationships within the Midfield AL welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that start an instructional program and complete it. It's essential that the welding school you select has a high completion rate. A reduced rate may signify that the students who joined the program were dissatisfied with the training, the teachers, 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 program has an excellent reputation within the trade, but additionally that it has the network of Midfield AL contacts to assist students obtain employment or apprenticeships after graduation.
Modern Equipment and Facilities. After you have narrowed down your selection of welding programs to two or three possibilities, you should think out going to the campuses to inspect their facilities. Verify that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are modern. In particular, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be working with on the job. 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 Midfield AL welding contractor if they can give you a few suggestions.
School Location. Even though we previously briefly covered the significance of location, there are a few additional issues that we need to deal with. You should remember that unless you are able to relocate, the welder program you pick must be within driving distance of your Midfield AL home. If you do opt to attend an out-of-state school, besides moving expenses there might be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially true for welder degree programs offered by community colleges. Also, if the school offers 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 an area or state where you subsequently will want to work.
Small Classes. One-on-one training is essential for a manual trade such as welding. It's possible to be overlooked in larger classes and not obtain much individualized instruction. Ask what the average class size is for the welding schools you are looking at. Ask if you can attend a couple of classes so that you can experience just how much personal attention the students are receiving. While there, speak with a few of the students and get their opinions. Also, talk to a few of the teachers and ask what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they have earned.
Flexible Class Scheduling. Lots of folks learn a new profession while still working at their present job. Make sure that the class schedules for the schools you are reviewing are flexible enough to satisfy your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Midfield AL, make sure that the schools you are assessing provide those alternatives. If you can only attend part-time, make certain that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the protocol is to make up classes if you you miss any due to work, sickness or family responsibilities.
Find the Best Midfield Welding School for Certification
Choosing the ideal welder training program will undoubtedly be the most critical decision you will make to start your new career. As we have covered in this article, there are several things that you will need to examine and compare between the schools you are considering. It's a must that any welder training that you are reviewing includes a good deal of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be smaller in size and each student must have their own welding machine to train on. Classroom instruction needs to offer a real-world context, and the training program should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Programs differ in duration and the kind of credential provided, so you will have to decide what length of program and degree or certificate will best serve your needs. Every training program provides unique options for certification also. Perhaps The ideal approach to research your short 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 certain that you are confident that the school you decide on is the best one for you. With the proper training, effort and commitment, the final result will be a new career as a professional welder in Midfield AL.