How to Pick the Right Welder Certification Program near Midfield Alabama
Choosing the ideal welding vocational school near Midfield AL is an important first step to launching your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are so many schools to choose from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more importantly, once you have narrowed down your choices, how do you pick the best one? Most people begin by checking out the schools that are nearest to their homes. When they have found those that are within commuting distance, they gravitate toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are necessary concerns when evaluating welding technical schools, but they are not the only ones. Other considerations include such things as accreditation, reputation and job placement rates. So before starting your search for a trade school to become a welder, it's sensible to create a list of qualifications that your selected school must have. But before we examine our due diligence checklist, let's cover a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welding Degree and Certificate Programs
There are multiple alternatives available to receive training as a welder in a technical or trade 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 made available in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Following are brief summaries of the most prevalent welding programs available in the Midfield AL area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are normally made available by technical and trade schools and take about 1 year to finish. They are more hands-on training in nature, designed largely to develop welding skills. They can furnish a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or specialized skills for experienced welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take 2 years to complete and are usually offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology provides a more well-rounded education than the diploma or certificate while still furnishing the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
A number of municipalities and states do have licensing requirements for welders, therefore make sure to find out for your location of future employment. As needed, the welder school you select should prepare you for any licensing exams that you will have to take in addition to furnishing the proper training to become a professional welder.
Welding Certification Choices
There are various organizations that provide welding certifications, which assess the knowledge and skill level of those applying. A large number of Midfield AL employers not only expect a degree or certificate from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a renowned agency such as the American Welding Society (AWS). Different certifications are offered based on the kind of work that the welder performs. Some of the things that certification can acknowledge are the welder's ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specific metal thicknesses
- Work with specific types of welds
- Perform based on contract specifications
As formerly stated, many cities, states or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those calling for licensing, many additionally require certification for various types of work. Certification is also a way to prove to employers that you are an exceptionally skilled and qualified welder. So just as with licensing, check the requirements for your local area and make certain that the welder tech school you select readies you for certification as needed.
Subjects to Ask Welder Trade Programs
After you have decided on the credential you want to obtain, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can begin to evaluate schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are many welding trade and technical schools in the Midfield AL area. That's why it's essential to determine up front what qualifications your chosen school must have. We have previously covered two important ones that most people look at first, which are location and tuition cost. As mentioned, although they are essential qualifications, they are not the only ones that must be looked at. After all, the program you select is going to provide the instruction that will be the foundation of your new career as a welder. So following are some additional factors you may want to consider before selecting a welding technical school.
Accreditation. It's essential that the welding trade school you select is accredited by either a national or a regional organization. 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 single program the school has, for example Welding Technology. So make certain that the program you select 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). In addition to helping ensure that you obtain a quality education, the accreditation may also assist in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are often unavailable in Midfield AL for schools that are not accredited. Also, for those states or local governments that require licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited also.
Apprenticeship and Job Assistance Programs. A large number of welder degree or certificate programs are offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Other schools will assist in placing you in a job or an apprenticeship upon graduation. Ask if the schools you are reviewing assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. These schools must have partnerships with local unions and various metal working businesses to which they can refer 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 develop associations within the Midfield AL welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that start an academic program and finish it. It's important that the welding program you select has a high completion rate. A reduced rate might indicate that the students who were in the program were unhappy with the training, the teachers, or the facilities, and dropped out. The job placement rate is also an indication of the caliber of training. A higher job placement rate will not only verify that the program has a good reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of Midfield AL employer relationships to help students obtain employment or apprenticeships after graduation.
Up-to-date Equipment and Facilities. After you have limited your choice of welder schools to two or three options, you should think out going to the campuses to evaluate their facilities. Verify that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed 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 already in an apprenticeship program, ask the master welder you are working under for guidance. Otherwise, ask a local Midfield AL welding professional if they can give you some tips.
School Location. Even though we previously briefly covered the importance of location, there are a few additional points that we should address. You should keep in mind that unless you are able to move, the welding school you choose needs to 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 could be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly true for welder diploma programs offered by community colleges. Furthermore, if the school provides a job placement or apprenticeship program, more than 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 important for a manual trade such as welding. It's easy to be overlooked in bigger classes and not get much personalized instruction. Ask what the average class size is for the welder schools you are looking at. Ask if you can sit in on a few classes so that you can witness how much individual attention the students are getting. While there, talk with a few of the students and get their feedback. Similarly, talk with a few of the trainers and find out what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they have earned.
Convenient Class Schedules. Lots of folks learn a new profession while still working at their current job. Check to see that the class schedules for the schools you are considering are convenient enough to meet your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Midfield AL, make sure that the schools you are looking at offer those options. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, confirm that the school you decide on offers part-time enrollment. Also, check to see what the policy is to make up classes if you you miss any due to illness, work or family responsibilities.
Find the Right Midfield Welding Program for Certification
Selecting the right welding school will probably be the most important decision you will make to begin your new profession. As we have discussed in this article, there are several things that you will need to evaluate and compare among the programs you are looking at. It's a necessity that any welding training program that you are considering includes a good deal of hands-on instruction. Classes should be small in size and every student should have their own welding machine to train on. Classroom teaching should offer a real-world frame of reference, and the curriculum should be current and conform with industry standards. Courses differ in duration and the type of credential offered, so you will have to decide what length of program and degree or certificate will best satisfy your needs. Every training program offers unique possibilities for certification also. Probably the best means to research your short list of schools is to go to each campus and talk with the students and instructors. Invest some time to monitor a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the school you pick is the best one for you. With the proper training, effort and commitment, the final result will be a new trade as a professional welder in Midfield AL.