How to Find the Best Welding Training Program near Mobile Alabama
Locating the right welder trade school near Mobile AL is an important first step to beginning your new career as a professional welder. But since there are numerous schools to pick from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more significantly, once you have fine tuned your choices, how do you select the right one? A number of prospective students start by checking out the schools that are closest to their residences. Once they have located those that are within driving distance, they are drawn toward the least costly one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are necessary considerations when examining welder vocational schools, but they are not the only ones. Other factors 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 develop a list of qualifications that your chosen 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 Training Courses
There are multiple options available to obtain training as a welder in a trade or technical school. You can obtain a diploma, a certificate or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are available in Welding Engineering or Welding Technology, but are more advanced degrees than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also offered combined with an apprenticeship program. Below are brief explanations of the most prevalent welding programs available in the Mobile AL area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are normally offered by trade and technical schools and take about 1 year to complete. They are more hands-on training in scope, fashioned primarily to develop welding skills. They can provide 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 most often offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology offers a more extensive education than the certificate or diploma while still supplying the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
Some states and municipalities do have licensing prerequisites for welders, so make sure to check for your location of future employment. As required, the welder school you pick should prepare you for any licensing exams that you will need to take in addition to providing the suitable training to become a qualified welder.
Welding Certification Choices
There are various institutions that offer welder certifications, which assess the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Many Mobile AL employers not only demand a certificate or degree from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a renowned organization like the American Welding Society (AWS). Different certifications are offered based upon the type of work that the welder performs. 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 various types of welds
- Work according to contract specifications
As already mentioned, many cities, states or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those mandating licensing, many also require certification for various types of work. Certification is also a way to prove to employers that you are a highly skilled and experienced welder. So just as with licensing, check the requirements for your location and confirm that the welding trade school you choose prepares you for certification if needed.
Subjects to Ask Welder Trade Programs
Once you have chosen the credential you would like to earn, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can start to compare schools. As you can imagine, there are a large number of welding trade and technical schools in the Mobile AL area. That's why it's essential to decide in advance what qualifications your chosen school must have. We have already covered 2 significant ones that most people consider first, which are location and tuition cost. As stated, although they are essential qualifications, they are not the only ones that need to be considered. After all, the program you choose is going to furnish the training that will be the foundation of your new profession as a welder. So following are some additional factors you may need to consider before selecting a welding vocational school.
Accreditation. It's very important that the welding vocational school you pick is accredited by either a national or a regional agency. There are two standard kinds of accreditation. The school may earn Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a specific program the school has, for example Welding Technology. So verify that the program you select is accredited, not just the school alone. Additionally, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, like the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). In addition to helping make sure that you receive a quality education, the accreditation can also help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are frequently unavailable in Mobile AL for schools that are not accredited. Finally, for those states or municipalities that mandate licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited also.
Job Placement and Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of welding degree or diploma programs are provided in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Various other schools will help place you in a job or an apprenticeship after graduation. Ask if the schools you are considering assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. These schools must have associations 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 referrals. These programs can help students find employment and develop associations within the Mobile 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 welder school you choose has a higher completion rate. A low rate could indicate that the students who joined the program were unhappy with the training, the teachers, or the facilities, and dropped out. The job placement rate is also a good indicator of the caliber of training. A higher job placement rate will not only affirm that the school has a good reputation within the trade, but additionally that it has the network of Mobile AL contacts to help students obtain apprenticeships or employment after graduation.
Up-to-date Equipment and Facilities. Once you have decreased your selection of welder programs to two or three possibilities, you should consider visiting the campuses to look over their facilities. Verify that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be taught on are modern. Specifically, the training equipment should be comparable to what you will be working with on the job. If you are uncertain 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 Mobile AL welding professional if they can give you a few suggestions.
School Location. Even though we previously briefly covered the importance of location, there are a couple of additional points that we need to cover. You should remember that unless you have the ability to relocate, the welder program you choose needs to be within commuting distance of your Mobile 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. Furthermore, if the school provides a job placement or apprenticeship program, most likely their placements are within the school's local community. So the location of the school needs to be in an area or state where you subsequently will want to work.
Smaller Classes. Personalized training is essential for a manual trade such as welding. It's easy to be overlooked in larger classes and not receive much individualized instruction. Find out what the typical class size is for the welding schools you are reviewing. Ask if you can sit in on a few classes so that you can witness how much individual attention the students are receiving. While there, talk with several of the students and get their feedback. Similarly, talk with a couple of the teachers and find out what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they hold.
Flexible Class Schedules. Some people learn a new trade while still working at their current job. Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are looking at are convenient enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Mobile AL, confirm that the schools you are assessing provide those choices. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the school you decide on offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the policy is to make up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Mobile Welding Training for Certification
Picking the best welding training program will probably be the most critical decision you will make to begin your new profession. As we have covered in this article, there are many factors that you will need to examine and compare among the schools you are reviewing. It's a prerequisite that any welder training that you are evaluating includes a good deal of hands-on training. Classes need to be small in size and every student must have their personal welding machine to train on. Classroom instruction needs to provide a real-world frame of reference, and the curriculum should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Courses vary in length and the kind of credential offered, so you will need to determine what length of program and credential will best satisfy your needs. Every program provides unique possibilities for certification also. Perhaps the best approach to research your short list of schools is to go to each campus and speak with the teachers and students. Take the time to monitor a few classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the program you pick is the best one for you. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, the final outcome will be a new occupation as a professional welder in Mobile AL.