How to Choose the Best Welder Training Program near Montevallo Alabama
Selecting the right welder trade school near Montevallo AL is an important first step to starting your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are a lot of schools to select from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more importantly, once you have fine tuned your choices, how do you select the right one? Many prospective students start by checking out the schools that are nearest to their residences. When they have found those that are within commuting distance, they gravitate toward the least expensive one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are crucial considerations when examining welder trade schools, but they are not the only ones. Other concerns include such things as accreditation, reputation and job placement rates. So before initiating your search for a trade school to become a welder, it's prudent to establish a list of qualifications that your selected school must have. But before we delve into our due diligence checklist, let's cover a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welder Certificate and Degree Programs
There are multiple alternatives available to receive training as a welder in a trade or technical school. You can obtain a diploma, a certificate or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are available in Welding Technology or Welding Engineering, but are more advanced courses than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also offered along with an apprenticeship program. Below are short summaries of the most common welding programs offered in the Montevallo AL area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are normally offered by technical and trade schools and require about a year to finish. They are more hands-on training in scope, fashioned primarily to develop welding skills. They can provide a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or supplemental skills for experienced welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take two years to complete 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 furnishing the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
Some states and municipalities do have licensing requirements for welders, so don't forget to find out for your location of future employment. As needed, the welding school you choose should ready you for any licensing exams that you will need to pass in addition to providing the proper training to become a professional welder.
Welder Certification Choices
There are several institutions that provide welding certifications, which assess the skill level and knowledge of those applying. A large number of Montevallo AL employers not only expect a certificate or degree from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a highly regarded organization like the American Welding Society (AWS). Different certifications are available based on the type of work that the welder does. Just some of the skills that certification can acknowledge are the welder's ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with certain metal thicknesses
- Work with various types of welds
- Perform according to contract specifications
As previously mentioned, some cities, states or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those mandating licensing, a number additionally require certification for different kinds of work. Certification is also a means to demonstrate to employers that you are a highly skilled and experienced welder. So just as with licensing, look into the requirements for your local area and make sure that the welder technical school you decide on readies you for certification if needed.
Topics to Ask Welding Trade Schools
As soon as you have decided on the credential you want to earn, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can start to assess schools. As you can imagine, there are many welding trade and vocational schools in the Montevallo AL area. That's why it's necessary to decide up front what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have previously covered 2 important ones that many 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 program you pick is going to provide the education that will be the foundation of your new profession as a welder. So following are some additional factors you might need to consider before selecting a welder tech school.
Accreditation. It's very important that the welding trade school you select is accredited by either a national or a regional organization. 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 single program the school has, for example Welding Technology. So make sure that the program you choose is accredited, not just the school itself. Also, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, like the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). In addition to helping make sure that you receive a superior education, the accreditation can also help in getting financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not offered in Montevallo AL for schools that are not accredited. Finally, for those states or municipalities that mandate licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited as well.
Apprenticeship and Job Placement Programs. Many welder diploma or degree programs are offered combined with an apprenticeship program. Various other schools will help place you in an apprenticeship or a job upon graduation. Ask if the schools you are looking at help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. These schools should have relationships with local unions and other metal working businesses to which they can place their students. Older schools may have a larger network of graduates that they can rely upon for referrals. These programs can assist students in finding employment and develop associations within the Montevallo AL welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that enroll in an instructional program and complete it. It's crucial that the welding school you select has a high completion rate. A low 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 an indication of the caliber of training. A higher job placement rate will not only verify that the school has a good reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of Montevallo AL contacts to help students obtain employment or apprenticeships upon graduation.
Up-to-date Facilities and Equipment. Once you have decreased your choice of welder schools to two or three options, you should consider going to the campuses to look over their facilities. Verify that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be taught on are up-to-date. In particular, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be using on the job. If you are not sure 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 Montevallo AL welding professional if they can give you a few pointers.
School Location. Even though we already briefly covered the importance of location, there are a few additional issues that we should deal with. You should keep in mind that unless you can move, the welding school you choose needs to be within driving distance of your Montevallo AL home. If you do opt to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there may be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially the case for welding certificate programs offered by community colleges. Furthermore, if the school offers a job placement or apprenticeship program, more than likely 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 desire to work.
Small Classes. Individualized training is important for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's easy to be overlooked in bigger classes and not receive much personalized instruction. Find out what the typical class size is for the welding programs you are considering. Ask if you can attend some classes so that you can observe how much individual attention the students are getting. While there, speak with several of the students and get their evaluations. Also, chat with a few of the instructors 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 employed at their present job. Make sure that the class schedules for the schools you are looking at are convenient enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Montevallo AL, confirm that the schools you are looking at provide those choices. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you choose offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the policy is to make up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Find the Best Montevallo Welding Training for Certification
Choosing the ideal welding school will undoubtedly be the most critical decision you will make to start your new profession. As we have covered in this article, there are many things that you will need to assess and compare between the programs you are looking at. It's a prerequisite that any welder training that you are examining includes a lot of hands-on instruction. Classes should be small in size and each student must have their own welding machine to train with. Classroom instruction should provide a real-world context, and the training program should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Courses vary in length and the kind of credential provided, so you will have to ascertain what length of program and degree or certificate will best fulfill your needs. Every training program provides different options for certification also. Probably The ideal approach to research your short list of schools is to go to each campus and speak with the faculty and students. Invest some time to monitor a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the training program you select is the right one for you. With the proper training, effort and dedication, the final outcome will be a new career as a professional welder in Montevallo AL.