How to Select the Best Welding Certification Course near Mobile Alabama
Choosing the ideal welding trade school near Mobile AL is an essential first step to beginning your new career 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 fine tuned your alternatives, how do you select the best one? Most prospective students start by looking at the schools that are nearest to their homes. When they have found those that are within driving distance, they are drawn toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are important issues when reviewing welding technical schools, but they are not the only ones. Other concerns include such things as reputation, accreditation and job placement rates. So before initiating your search for a vocational school to become a welder, it's sensible to create a list of qualifications that your chosen 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 a number of options available to receive training as a welder in a trade or technical school. You can receive a diploma, a certificate or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are available in Welding Technology or Welding Engineering, but are more advanced degrees than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Below are brief explanations of the most common welding programs offered in the Mobile AL area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are usually offered by trade and technical schools and require about a year to finish. They are more hands-on training in scope, designed largely to teach welding skills. They can provide 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 provides a more well-rounded education than the diploma or certificate while still supplying the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
Some states and municipalities do have licensing requirements for welders, so be sure to check for your location of potential employment. If required, the welding school you choose should prep you for any licensing exams that you will need to take in addition to furnishing the suitable training to become a qualified welder.
Welder Certification Choices
There are various institutions that provide welder certifications, which test the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Many Mobile AL employers not only require 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 available based upon the type of work that the welder does. Just some of the things that certification can acknowledge are the welder's ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with certain metal thicknesses
- Work with specific types of welds
- Operate in compliance with contract specifications
As previously mentioned, some cities, states or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those requiring licensing, some additionally require certification for different kinds of work. Certification is also a means to demonstrate to employers that you are an exceptionally skilled and experienced welder. So similarly as with licensing, look into the requirements for your location and make certain that the welding tech school you select preps you for certification if needed.
Points to Ask Welder Tech Programs
When you have chosen the credential you want to earn, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can begin to assess schools. As you probably know, there are numerous welding trade and technical schools in the Mobile AL area. That's why it's essential to decide in advance what qualifications your selected school must have. We have previously covered two significant ones that most people consider first, which are location and tuition cost. As mentioned, although they are very important qualifications, they are not the only ones that must be looked at. After all, the school you choose is going to furnish the training that will be the foundation of your new profession as a welder. So below are more factors you might want to evaluate before picking a welding trade school.
Accreditation. It's essential that the welding tech school you select is accredited by either a national or a regional 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 has, such as Welding Technology. So verify that the program you choose is accredited, not just the school alone. Also, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, 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 in many cases 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 welder training program be accredited also.
Job Placement and Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of welding degree or certificate programs are provided in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Various other schools will help place you in an apprenticeship or a job after graduation. Find out if the schools you are considering assist 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 refer their students. Older schools may have a larger network of graduates that they can rely upon for placements. These programs can assist students in finding 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 finish it. It's important that the welding program you choose has a high completion rate. A reduced rate may indicate that the students who were in the program were unhappy with the instruction, the teachers, or the facilities, and dropped out. The job placement rate is also a good indicator of the quality of training. A higher job placement rate will not only confirm that the program has an excellent reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of Mobile AL employer relationships to assist students secure employment or apprenticeships after graduation.
Up-to-date Facilities and Equipment. After you have narrowed down your choice of welder schools to 2 or 3 options, you should consider going to the campuses to evaluate their facilities. Verify that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are up-to-date. Specifically, the training equipment should be comparable 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. Otherwise, ask a local Mobile AL welding contractor if they can give you some suggestions.
School Location. Even though we previously briefly covered the significance of location, there are a few additional points that we need to deal with. You should bear in mind that unless you are able to relocate, the welding program you select needs to be within commuting distance of your Mobile AL home. If you do choose to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides relocation expenses there may be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially true for welding diploma programs offered by community colleges. Also, if the school provides an apprenticeship or job placement program, more than likely their placements are within the school's regional community. So the location of the school should be in an area or state where you subsequently will wish to work.
Small Classes. Individualized instruction is essential for a manual trade such as welding. It's possible to be lost in larger classes and not get much one-on-one training. Find out what the typical class size is for the welder programs you are reviewing. Inquire if you can attend some classes so that you can witness just how much personal attention the students are receiving. While there, speak with several of the students and get their opinions. Similarly, talk to a couple of the teachers and find out what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they hold.
Flexible Class Schedules. Lots of folks learn a new trade while still employed at their present job. Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Mobile AL, verify that the schools you are considering provide those options. If you can only attend part-time, confirm that the school you pick offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the protocol is to make up classes if you you miss any because of illness, work or family circumstances.
Find the Right Mobile Welding Training for Certification
Choosing the right welder school will probably be the most important decision you will make to start your new career. As we have addressed in this article, there are many things that you will need to evaluate and compare between the schools you are reviewing. It's a prerequisite that any welder school that you are assessing includes a considerable amount of hands-on instruction. Classes should be smaller in size and each student must have their own welding machine to train on. Classroom instruction should provide a real-world perspective, and the training program should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Programs vary in length and the type of credential provided, so you will have to ascertain what length of program and credential will best satisfy your needs. Each training program offers unique options for certification also. Probably the best means to research your short list of schools is to visit each campus and speak with the teachers and students. Invest some time to monitor a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the program you decide on is the best one for you. With the proper training, hard work and dedication, the end outcome will be a new occupation as a professional welder in Mobile AL.