How to Select the Right Welder Degree Program near Monroeville Alabama
Selecting the ideal welding technical school near Monroeville 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 determine which ones to consider? And more notably, once you have narrowed down your options, how do you select the right one? Many prospective students begin by reviewing the schools that are nearest to their residences. Once they have located those that are within commuting distance, they gravitate toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are important considerations when examining welding technical schools, but they are not the only ones. Other concerns include such things as reputation, accreditation and job placement rates. So before starting 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 talk a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welding Certificate and Degree Programs
There are a number of alternatives available to obtain training as a welder in a trade or vocational 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 courses than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Below are short explanations of the most prevalent welding programs offered in the Monroeville AL area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are generally offered by trade and technical schools and take about a year to finish. They are more hands-on training in nature, fashioned mainly to teach welding skills. They can provide a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or additional skills for working welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take two years to finish and are usually offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology furnishes a more well-rounded education than the diploma or certificate while still supplying the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
Many states and municipalities do have licensing requirements for welders, so make sure to find out for your location of future employment. As needed, the welding school you choose should prepare you for any licensing examinations that you will need to take in addition to furnishing the proper training to become a professional welder.
Welder Certification Choices
There are several organizations that provide welder certifications, which evaluate the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Numerous Monroeville AL employers not only require a degree or certificate from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a respected agency like the American Welding Society (AWS). Different certifications are available based on the kind of work that the welder performs. 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 kinds of welds
- Operate according to contract specifications
As earlier mentioned, some cities, states or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those calling for licensing, some also require certification for various kinds of work. Certification is also a means to demonstrate to employers that you are an extremely skilled and knowledgeable welder. So just as with licensing, check the requirements for your local area and make certain that the welding technical school you select prepares you for certification as needed.
Points to Ask Welding Trade Schools
After you have decided on the credential you want to obtain, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can start to assess schools. As you probably know, there are numerous welding trade and vocational schools in the Monroeville AL area. That's why it's necessary to determine up front what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have previously discussed a couple of important ones that many people look at 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 provide the instruction that will be the foundation of your new vocation as a welder. So below are some additional factors you might need to evaluate before selecting a welding technical school.
Accreditation. It's very important that the welding tech school you decide on is accredited by either a regional or a national agency. There are two standard types of accreditation. The school may attain 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 alone. Additionally, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, such as the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping ensure that you obtain a superior education, the accreditation may also help in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases not offered in Monroeville AL for schools that are not accredited. Also, for those states or local governments that mandate licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited as well.
Apprenticeship and Job Assistance Programs. A large number of welding diploma or degree programs are provided in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Other schools will help place 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 assistance program. These schools must have partnerships with local unions and other metal working businesses to which they can refer their students. More established schools may have a more substantial network of graduates that they can rely upon for placements. These programs can help students find employment and develop associations within the Monroeville AL welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that enroll in an academic program and complete it. It's essential that the welding program you choose has a higher completion rate. A low rate could signify that the students who were in the program were dissatisfied with the training, the instructors, or the facilities, and dropped out. 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 a good reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of Monroeville AL contacts to assist students secure apprenticeships or employment upon 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. Confirm that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be taught on are modern. Specifically, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be using in the field. If you are unsure what to look for, and are currently in an apprenticeship program, consult with the master welder you are working under for guidance. Otherwise, ask a local Monroeville AL welding professional if they can give you some tips.
School Location. Although we already briefly discussed the relevance of location, there are a few additional points that we should cover. You should bear in mind that unless you can relocate, the welder school you select must be within commuting distance of your Monroeville AL home. If you do decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation expenses there may be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially the case for welder certificate programs offered by community colleges. Furthermore, if the school provides a job placement or apprenticeship program, often 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 want to work.
Small Classes. Individualized instruction is essential for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's easy to get lost in larger classes and not obtain much individualized training. Find out what the average class size is for the welder programs you are looking at. Ask if you can sit in on a couple of classes so that you can observe how much individual attention the students are getting. While there, speak with some of the students and get their opinions. Also, talk to some of the trainers and ask what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they hold.
Flexible Class Scheduling. Lots of folks learn a new profession while still employed at their present job. Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are looking at are convenient enough to satisfy your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Monroeville AL, make certain that the schools you are reviewing offer those choices. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, check to see what the policy is to make up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
Choose the Right Monroeville Welding Program for Certification
Selecting the ideal welding training program will undoubtedly be the most critical decision you will make to start your new profession. As we have addressed in this article, there are a number of factors that you will need to assess and compare between the programs you are looking at. It's a must that any welder training that you are examining includes a lot of hands-on instruction. Classes should be small in size and every student must have their personal welding machine to train on. Classroom instruction needs to offer a real-world frame of reference, and the training program should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Programs differ in duration and the type of credential provided, so you will need to decide what length of program and certificate or degree will best fulfill your needs. Every program provides unique options for certification also. Probably the best approach to research your final list of schools is to go to each campus and speak with the students and faculty. Take the time to monitor a few classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the training program you pick is the right one for you. With the proper training, effort and dedication, the end outcome will be a new occupation as a professional welder in Monroeville AL.