How to Enroll In the Right Welding Certification Classes near Mobile Alabama
Enrolling in the right welding trade school near Mobile AL is an essential first step to starting your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are so many schools to pick from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more significantly, once you have fine tuned your alternatives, how do you select the best one? Many prospective students begin by looking at the schools that are closest to their homes. When they have identified those that are within driving distance, they gravitate toward the least expensive one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are necessary concerns when examining welding vocational schools, but they are not the only ones. Other factors include such things as reputation, accreditation and job placement rates. So before initiating your search for a trade school to become a welder, it's sensible to create 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.
Welder Certificate and Degree Programs
There are a number of options available to obtain 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 Engineering or Welding Technology, but are more advanced programs than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available combined with an apprenticeship program. Following are short summaries of the most prevalent welding programs offered in the Mobile AL area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are generally made available by trade and technical schools and require about 1 year to finish. They are more hands-on training in nature, fashioned mainly to teach 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 two years to complete and are usually offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology offers a more well-rounded education than the diploma or certificate while still furnishing the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
Some municipalities and states do have licensing requirements for welders, therefore make sure to check for your location of future employment. As needed, the welding school you select should prep you for any licensing examinations that you will need to take in addition to providing the proper training to become a professional welder.
Welder Certification Alternatives
There are several organizations that provide welding certifications, which assess the knowledge and skill level of those applying. Numerous Mobile AL employers not only expect a degree or certificate from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a respected organization such as the American Welding Society (AWS). A wide range of certifications are offered based upon the kind of work that the welder performs. A few of the skills that certification can attest to are the welder's ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specified metal thicknesses
- Work with certain kinds of welds
- Operate in compliance with contract specifications
As already mentioned, various cities, states or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those requiring licensing, many additionally require certification for various 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, look into the requirements for your location and verify that the welding technical school you decide on preps you for certification as needed.
Topics to Ask Welding Technical Programs
Once you have chosen the credential you would like to obtain, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can start to compare schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are a large number of welding trade and technical schools in the Mobile AL area. That's why it's necessary to decide in advance what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have already covered two significant ones that most people consider first, which are location and tuition cost. As mentioned, although they are very important qualifiers, they are not the only ones that must be considered. After all, the school you select is going to furnish the training 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 vocational school.
Accreditation. It's extremely important that the welding technical school you select 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, such as Welding Technology. So verify that the program you select is accredited, not just the school itself. Also, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, such as the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). In addition to helping ensure that you receive a quality education, the accreditation might also help in getting financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases not offered in Mobile 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 also.
Apprenticeship and Job Placement Programs. A large number of welder 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 upon graduation. Ask if the schools you are reviewing help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. These schools must have associations with local unions and various metal working businesses to which they can place their students. Older schools may have a more substantial network of graduates that they can utilize 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 portion or percentage of students that begin an instructional program and complete it. It's essential that the welding program you select has a high completion rate. A lower rate may indicate that the students who were in the program were dissatisfied with the instruction, the instructors, or the facilities, and quit. The job placement rate is also an indication of the caliber of training. A higher job placement rate will not only confirm that the program has an excellent reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of Mobile AL contacts to help students obtain apprenticeships or employment upon graduation.
Up-to-date Equipment and Facilities. After you have narrowed down your selection of welder schools to two or three options, you should think out visiting the campuses to inspect their facilities. Make sure that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be instructed on are modern. Specifically, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be working with in the field. If you are unsure what to look for, and are already in an apprenticeship program, consult with the master welder you are working under for guidance. If not, ask a local Mobile AL welding professional if they can give you some tips.
School Location. Even though we already briefly discussed the relevance of location, there are a few additional issues that we need to deal with. You should bear in mind that unless you have the ability to relocate, the welding school you choose needs to be within driving distance of your Mobile AL home. If you do opt to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there might be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially true for welding degree programs offered by community colleges. Furthermore, if the school offers an apprenticeship or job placement program, most likely their placements are within the school's local community. So the location of the school should be in an area or state where you subsequently will desire to work.
Small Classes. One-on-one instruction is important for a manual trade such as welding. It's possible to be overlooked in bigger classes and not receive much individualized instruction. Ask what the typical class size is for the welder schools you are considering. Inquire if you can sit in on some classes so that you can experience how much individual attention the students are receiving. While there, speak with several of the students and get their evaluations. Similarly, talk with some of the teachers and find out what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they have earned.
Flexible Class Schedules. Some people learn a new trade while still working at their current job. Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Mobile AL, verify that the schools you are assessing provide those alternatives. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you choose offers part-time enrollment. Also, check to see what the protocol is to make up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family circumstances.
Find the Right Mobile Welding School for Certification
Picking the right welding school will probably be the most critical decision you will make to begin your new profession. As we have discussed in this article, there are many things that you will need to evaluate and compare among the programs you are considering. It's a necessity that any welder school that you are considering includes a considerable amount of hands-on training. Classes should be small in size and every student should have their own welding machine to train with. Classroom education needs to offer a real-world context, and the curriculum should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Training programs differ in duration and the kind of credential provided, so you will have to decide what length of program and certificate or degree will best serve your needs. Every training program offers different possibilities for certification as well. Perhaps The ideal means to research your final list of schools is to check out each campus and talk with the faculty and students. Take the time to monitor some classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the training program you pick is the ideal one for you. With the right training, effort and dedication, the final result will be a new occupation as a professional welder in Mobile AL.