How to Select the Right Welder Technical School near Midfield Alabama
Finding the right welding school near Midfield AL is an important first step to beginning your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are a lot of schools to pick from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more significantly, once you have narrowed down your options, how do you select the best one? A number of people start by checking out the schools that are closest to their residences. Once they have identified those that are within driving distance, they gravitate toward the least costly one. Yes, location and tuition cost are necessary issues when reviewing welding trade schools, but they are not the only ones. Other factors include such things as reputation, accreditation and job placement rates. So before starting your search for a vocational 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 Certificate and Degree Training Classes
There are several options available to get 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 programs than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also offered along with an apprenticeship program. Following are short explanations of the most typical welding programs offered in the Midfield AL area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are generally made available by technical and trade schools and take about one year to finish. They are more hands-on training in nature, created mainly to teach welding skills. They can provide 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 most often offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology provides a more extensive education than the certificate or diploma while still furnishing the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
Some states and municipalities do have licensing requirements for welders, therefore make sure to find out for your location of potential employment. If required, the welder school you choose should prepare you for any licensing exams that you will need to take in addition to furnishing the appropriate training to become a qualified welder.
Welding Certification Choices
There are multiple institutions that offer welding certifications, which evaluate the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Numerous Midfield AL employers not only demand a certificate or degree from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a renowned agency like the American Welding Society (AWS). A variety of certifications are offered 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
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specific metal thicknesses
- Work with various types of welds
- Perform in compliance with contract specifications
As already mentioned, many states, cities or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those requiring licensing, some also require certification for different types of work. Certification is also a means to prove to employers that you are an extremely skilled and experienced welder. So just as with licensing, check the requirements for your location and make certain that the welder vocational school you select prepares you for certification if needed.
What to Ask Welder Trade Schools
When you have chosen the credential you want to obtain, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can start to evaluate schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are many welder trade and vocational schools in the Midfield AL area. That's why it's necessary to determine up front what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have previously discussed two significant ones that most people consider first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As mentioned, although they are essential qualifiers, they are not the only ones that need to be considered. After all, the school you decide on is going to provide the education that will be the foundation of your new career as a welder. So below are more factors you may want to consider before choosing a welding trade school.
Accreditation. It's essential that the welder trade school you pick is accredited by either a regional or a national agency. There are 2 standard kinds of accreditation. The school may receive Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a specific program the school has, such as Welding Technology. So verify that the program you pick is accredited, not just the school alone. Also, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, like the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). In addition to helping ensure that you receive an excellent education, the accreditation might also assist in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are frequently unavailable in Midfield 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 degree or certificate programs are provided combined with an apprenticeship program. Some other schools will help place you in a job or an apprenticeship upon graduation. Find out if the schools you are considering assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. These schools should have associations 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 referrals. These programs can assist students in finding employment and develop associations within the Midfield AL welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that start an educational program and complete it. It's important that the welding program you pick has a higher completion rate. A lower 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 confirm that the program has a good reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of Midfield AL employer relationships to help students secure apprenticeships or employment after graduation.
Up-to-date Facilities and Equipment. Once you have limited your choice of welding programs to two or three possibilities, you should consider visiting the campuses to inspect their facilities. Confirm that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be taught on are modern. In particular, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be using on the job. If you are uncertain 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 professional if they can give you a few tips.
School Location. Although we previously briefly covered the significance of location, there are a couple of additional points that we need to address. You should keep in mind that unless you can move, the welder program you pick must be within driving distance of your Midfield AL home. If you do opt to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation expenses there might be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially the case for welder diploma programs offered by community colleges. Additionally, 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 should be in a region or state where you subsequently will desire to work.
Smaller Classes. Individualized instruction is essential for a manual trade such as welding. It's easy to be overlooked in bigger classes and not get much personalized instruction. Find out what the average class size is for the welding schools you are looking at. Inquire if you can attend some classes so that you can observe how much individual attention the students are receiving. While there, speak with a few of the students and get their evaluations. Also, talk to some of the teachers and find out what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they have earned.
Flexible Class Scheduling. Some people learn a new profession while still working at their current job. Confirm that the class schedules for the schools you are considering are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Midfield AL, make sure that the schools you are assessing offer those alternatives. If you can only enroll part-time, make certain that the school you choose offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the protocol is to make up classes should you miss any because of illness, work or family circumstances.
Choose the Right Midfield Welding School for Certification
Choosing the right welder school will probably be the most important decision you will make to start your new career. As we have covered in this article, there are a number of things that you will need to evaluate and compare among the schools you are reviewing. It's a must that any welding training program that you are assessing includes a considerable amount of hands-on instruction. Classes should be smaller in size and every student must have their own welding machine to train with. Classroom instruction should provide a real-world perspective, and the curriculum should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Programs vary in duration and the type of credential offered, so you will need to ascertain what length of program and certificate or degree will best satisfy your needs. Each training program provides unique possibilities for certification also. Probably The ideal means to research your final list of schools is to check out each campus and talk with the students and instructors. Invest some time to monitor some classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the school you select is the right one for you. With the proper training, effort and dedication, the end result will be a new career as a professional welder in Midfield AL.