How to Choose the Best Welder Certificate Program near Mobile Alabama
Selecting the right welding technical school near Mobile AL is an important first step to starting your new career as a professional welder. But since there are so many schools to select from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more significantly, once you have narrowed down your alternatives, how do you select the best one? A number of prospective students start by checking out the schools that are nearest to their homes. When they have identified those that are within commuting distance, they are drawn toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are important issues when examining welding trade 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 vocational school to become a welder, it's sensible to create a list of qualifications that your selected school must have. But before we delve into our due diligence checklist, let's talk a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welding Certificate and Degree Training
There are multiple options available to receive training as a welder in a technical or trade school. You can obtain a diploma, a certificate 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 brief descriptions of the most prevalent welding programs offered in the Mobile AL area.
- Certificate and Diploma 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 largely to teach 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 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 be sure to find out for your location of potential employment. If needed, the welder school you choose should prep you for any licensing examinations that you will have to take in addition to supplying the suitable training to become a professional welder.
Welding Certification Alternatives
There are multiple organizations that offer welding certifications, which evaluate the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Many Mobile AL employers not only demand a degree or certificate from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a highly regarded organization such as the American Welding Society (AWS). A variety of certifications are offered based upon the kind of work that the welder does. Some of the things that certification can attest to are the welder's ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with certain metal thicknesses
- Work with various kinds of welds
- Work based on contract specifications
As formerly mentioned, some cities, states or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those mandating licensing, some also require certification for various types of work. Certification is also a way to prove to employers that you are an extremely skilled and qualified welder. So similarly as with licensing, look into the requirements for your local area and make sure that the welder trade school you decide on preps you for certification if needed.
What to Ask Welding Trade Schools
Once you have decided on the credential you would like to attain, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can start to assess schools. As you probably know, there are numerous welder vocational and trade schools in the Mobile AL area. That's why it's essential to decide up front what qualifications your chosen school must have. We have already covered a couple of important ones that most people consider first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As stated, although they are very important qualifications, they are not the only ones that need to be looked at. After all, the program you select is going to furnish the instruction that will be the foundation of your new career as a welder. So below are more factors you might need to evaluate before choosing a welding tech school.
Accreditation. It's extremely important that the welder vocational school you select is accredited by either a regional or a national organization. There are two basic kinds of accreditation. The school may receive Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a single program the school has, such as Welding Technology. So make certain that the program you pick is accredited, not just the school itself. Also, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, such as the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping ensure that you get an excellent education, the accreditation may also assist in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are often not offered in Mobile AL for non-accredited schools. Finally, 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. Numerous welding diploma or degree programs are offered combined with an apprenticeship program. Other schools will assist in placing you in a job or an apprenticeship after graduation. Ask if the schools you are reviewing help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. The schools should have relationships 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 placements. These programs can assist students in finding employment and establish relationships within the Mobile AL welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that begin an educational program and finish it. It's crucial that the welder school you select has a high completion rate. A low rate could mean that the students who enrolled in the program were unhappy with the instruction, the teachers, or the facilities, and dropped out. The job placement rate is also an indication of the caliber of training. A high job placement rate will not only verify that the school has an excellent reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of Mobile AL contacts to assist students secure apprenticeships or employment after graduation.
Modern Equipment and Facilities. After you have narrowed down your choice of welder programs to 2 or 3 options, you should consider going to the campuses to inspect their facilities. Confirm that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are up-to-date. In particular, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be working with 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 Mobile AL welding professional if they can give you a few pointers.
School Location. Even though we previously briefly talked about the relevance of location, there are a couple of additional issues that we should deal with. You should bear in mind that unless you are able to relocate, the welding program you pick must be within driving distance of your Mobile AL home. If you do opt to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides relocation expenses there might be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially the case for welding degree programs offered by community colleges. Also, 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 needs to be in an area or state where you subsequently will wish to work.
Smaller Classes. Personalized training is important for a manual trade such as welding. It's possible to get overlooked in bigger classes and not get much one-on-one training. Find out what the typical class size is for the welding schools you are looking at. Inquire if you can sit in on some classes so that you can experience how much personal attention the students are receiving. While there, speak with a few of the students and get their opinions. Also, talk with some of the instructors and ask what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they hold.
Convenient Class Schedules. Some people learn a new profession while still employed at their current job. Check to see that the class schedules for the schools you are considering are flexible enough to satisfy your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Mobile AL, make sure that the schools you are considering offer those alternatives. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you decide on offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the protocol is to make up classes if you you miss any because of work, sickness or family emergencies.
Find the Best Mobile Welding Course for Certification
Picking the right welder training program will probably be the most critical decision you will make to begin your new trade. As we have addressed in this article, there are several factors that you will need to evaluate and compare among the schools you are reviewing. It's a prerequisite that any welding training that you are considering includes a considerable amount of hands-on training. Classes should be small in size and every student must have their own welding machine to train with. Classroom instruction needs to provide a real-world context, and the training program should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Training programs vary in length and the kind of credential offered, so you will need to decide what length of program and degree or certificate will best satisfy your needs. Each program offers different options for certification as well. Perhaps The ideal way to research your final list of schools is to visit each campus and speak with the students and faculty. Take the time to sit in on some classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the training program you decide on is the ideal one for you. With the right training, hard work and dedication, the final result will be a new trade as a professional welder in Mobile AL.