How to Find the Right Welding Certification Program near Mobile Alabama
Selecting the ideal welding school near Mobile AL is an essential first step to starting your new career as a professional welder. But since there are numerous 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 select the best one? Many people begin by reviewing the schools that are closest to their homes. Once they have found those that are within commuting distance, they are drawn toward the least costly one. Yes, location and tuition cost are important issues when examining welding technical schools, but they are not the only ones. Other concerns include such things as accreditation, reputation and job placement rates. So before beginning your search for a vocational school to become a welder, it's wise 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 Degree and Certificate Training Classes
There are multiple options to get training as a welder in a technical or trade 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 courses 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 Mobile AL area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are generally made available by trade and technical schools and take about one year to finish. They are more hands-on training in scope, created primarily to teach welding skills. They can furnish a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or additional skills for experienced welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take two years to finish and are usually offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology offers a more extensive education than the certificate or diploma while still providing the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
Some municipalities and states do have licensing requirements for welders, so don't forget to find out for your location of future employment. As required, the welding school you pick should prep you for any licensing exams that you will need to take in addition to furnishing the suitable training to become a professional welder.
Welder Certification Alternatives
There are a number of organizations that provide welding certifications, which test the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Many Mobile AL employers not only expect a degree or certificate from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a respected organization like the American Welding Society (AWS). A variety of certifications are offered based on the kind of work that the welder does. Some of the things that certification can acknowledge are the welder's ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with certain metal thicknesses
- Work with certain kinds of welds
- Work according to contract specifications
As previously mentioned, many cities, states or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those mandating licensing, many additionally require certification for different kinds of work. Certification is also a means to prove to employers that you are an extremely skilled and qualified welder. So similarly as with licensing, check the requirements for your location and verify that the welding trade school you decide on preps you for certification as needed.
Topics to Ask Welder Technical Programs
Once you have chosen the credential you would like to obtain, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can start to evaluate schools. As you probably know, there are a large number of welding vocational and trade schools in the Mobile AL area. That's why it's essential to establish in advance what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have already covered two important 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 program you choose is going to furnish the training that will be the foundation of your new career as a welder. So following are some additional factors you might need to consider before choosing a welding vocational school.
Accreditation. It's extremely important that the welding tech school you select is accredited by either a regional or a national agency. There are two basic types of accreditation. The school may earn Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a specific program the school offers, such as Welding Technology. So make certain that the program you select is accredited, not just the school itself. Also, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, for example the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping ensure that you obtain an excellent education, the accreditation can also assist in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are often not offered in Mobile AL for schools that are not accredited. Also, for those states or local governments that require licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited as well.
Apprenticeship and Job Placement Programs. Many welding degree or diploma programs are offered combined with an apprenticeship program. Some other schools will help place you in an apprenticeship or a job after graduation. Find out if the schools you are looking at assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. These schools must have relationships with local unions and other 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 placements. These programs can assist students in finding employment and establish relationships within the Mobile AL welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that enroll in an instructional program and finish it. It's important that the welding school you choose has a high completion rate. A lower rate may 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 an indication of the quality of training. A high job placement rate will not only confirm that the program has a good reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of Mobile AL contacts to help students secure apprenticeships or employment upon graduation.
Up-to-date Equipment and Facilities. After you have decreased your selection of welder schools to two or three options, you should think out visiting the campuses to evaluate their facilities. Make sure that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be taught on are modern. Specifically, the training equipment should be comparable to what you will be working with in the field. 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 some pointers.
School Location. Although we already briefly covered the significance of location, there are a few additional points that we should address. You should remember that unless you can relocate, the welding program 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 moving expenses there may be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially the case for welding certificate programs offered by community colleges. Additionally, if the school offers a job placement or apprenticeship program, often their placements are within the school's regional community. So the location of the school should be in a region or state where you ultimately will wish to work.
Small Classes. Personalized instruction is essential for a manual trade such as welding. It's easy to get lost in larger classes and not get much personalized training. Find out what the usual class size is for the welding programs you are reviewing. Ask if you can attend a couple of classes so that you can see just how much personal attention the students are getting. While there, speak with a few of the students and get their feedback. Similarly, talk to some of the trainers and find out what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they hold.
Convenient Class Schedules. Many people learn a new trade while still working at their current job. Confirm that the class schedules for the schools you are considering are convenient enough to satisfy your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Mobile AL, verify that the schools you are looking at provide those options. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, verify that the school you pick offers part-time enrollment. Also, check to see what the protocol is to make up classes if you you miss any because of illness, work or family responsibilities.
Choose the Right Mobile Welding Program for Certification
Picking the ideal welder school will undoubtedly be the most critical decision you will make to launch your new profession. As we have discussed in this article, there are several things that you will need to assess and compare between the programs you are reviewing. It's a prerequisite that any welder school that you are assessing includes a lot of hands-on instruction. Classes should be small in size and every student must have their own welding machine to train on. Classroom instruction should offer a real-world context, and the course of study should be current and in-line with industry standards. Courses vary in duration and the kind of credential provided, so you will need to ascertain what length of program and credential will best fulfill your needs. Every program provides unique options for certification also. Probably The ideal approach to research your short list of schools is to go to each campus and talk 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 school you decide on is the right one for you. With the proper training, effort and dedication, the final result will be a new occupation as a professional welder in Mobile AL.