How to Pick the Right Welding Trade School near Montevallo Alabama
Choosing the ideal welding school near Montevallo AL is an essential first step to beginning your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are numerous schools to select from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more significantly, once you have fine tuned your choices, how do you select the best one? A number of prospective students begin by checking out the schools that are closest to their residences. Once they have identified those that are within driving distance, they are drawn toward the least costly one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are necessary considerations when reviewing welder technical 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 vocational school to become a welder, it's prudent 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.
Welding Degree and Certificate Training Classes
There are multiple options available to get training as a welder in a trade or technical school. You can receive a a certificate, a diploma or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are offered 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 brief summaries of the most prevalent welding programs available in the Montevallo AL area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are generally made available by trade and technical schools and take about one year to complete. They are more hands-on training in scope, created primarily 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 finish and are most often offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology offers a more well-rounded education than the diploma or certificate while still supplying the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
Many states and municipalities do have licensing requirements for welders, so don't forget to check for your location of future employment. As needed, the welding school you choose should prepare you for any licensing exams that you will need to take in addition to providing the suitable training to become a professional welder.
Welding Certification Options
There are multiple organizations that offer welder certifications, which assess the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Numerous Montevallo AL employers not only require a degree or certificate from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a highly regarded organization such as the American Welding Society (AWS). A wide range of certifications are offered dependent on the kind of work that the welder performs. A few 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 specific kinds of welds
- Perform based on contract specifications
As already stated, some states, cities 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 way to demonstrate to employers that you are an exceptionally skilled and qualified welder. So just as with licensing, look into the requirements for your location and verify that the welder tech school you choose prepares you for certification if needed.
What to Ask Welding Tech Schools
Once you have decided on the credential you would like to attain, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can start to evaluate schools. As you probably know, there are numerous welder trade and vocational schools in the Montevallo AL area. That's why it's necessary to decide in advance what qualifications your selected school must have. We have already discussed two significant 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 pick is going to provide the instruction that will be the foundation of your new career as a welder. So following are more factors you may want to consider before picking a welding vocational school.
Accreditation. It's extremely important that the welding trade school you pick is accredited by either a national or a regional organization. There are two basic 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, for example 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 acknowledged accrediting agency, 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 assist in securing financial aid or student loans, which are often not offered in Montevallo AL for non-accredited schools. Finally, for those states or local governments that require licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited as well.
Job Placement and Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous welding degree or diploma programs are provided in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Some other schools will assist in placing you in a job or an apprenticeship upon graduation. Ask if the schools you are considering assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. The schools should have relationships with local unions and other metal working businesses to which they can refer their students. Older schools may have a larger network of graduates that they can utilize for placements. These programs can assist students in finding employment and establish associations within the Montevallo AL welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that begin an educational program and complete it. It's important that the welder school you pick has a high completion rate. A lower rate might mean that the students who enrolled in the program were dissatisfied with the training, the instructors, or the facilities, and quit. 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 trade, but also that it has the network of Montevallo AL employer relationships to assist students obtain employment or apprenticeships upon graduation.
Up-to-date Facilities and Equipment. Once you have narrowed down your choice of welding programs to two or three possibilities, you should consider going to the campuses to evaluate 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 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 Montevallo AL welding contractor if they can give you a few tips.
School Location. Even though we previously briefly covered the relevance of location, there are a couple of additional issues that we need to address. You should bear in mind that unless you have the ability to relocate, the welder program you choose needs to be within commuting distance of your Montevallo AL home. If you do choose to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there could 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 offers an apprenticeship or job placement program, more than 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 ultimately will desire to work.
Small Classes. One-on-one training is essential for a manual trade such as welding. It's easy to be lost in larger classes and not get much personalized instruction. Find out what the typical class size is for the welder schools you are looking at. Ask if you can sit in on a couple of classes so that you can observe how much personal attention the students are receiving. While there, speak with several of the students and get their evaluations. Similarly, chat with a few of the teachers and ask what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they hold.
Flexible Class Scheduling. Many people learn a new trade while still employed at their present job. Confirm that the class schedules for the schools you are considering are convenient enough to satisfy your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Montevallo AL, make certain that the schools you are considering provide those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you decide on offers part-time enrollment. Also, check to see what the protocol is to make up classes if you you miss any due to illness, work or family circumstances.
Choose the Right Montevallo Welding Program for Certification
Picking the best welder training program will probably be the most critical decision you will make to begin your new trade. As we have discussed in this article, there are many factors that you will need to examine and compare among the programs you are reviewing. It's a must that any welding training that you are reviewing includes a considerable amount of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be small in size and each student should have their personal welding machine to train with. Classroom instruction should provide a real-world context, and the curriculum should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Programs vary in length and the kind of credential offered, so you will need to ascertain what length of program and degree or certificate will best satisfy your needs. Every training program provides unique options for certification also. Probably the best approach to research your short list of schools is to check out each campus and speak with the students and instructors. Invest some time to attend a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the program you decide on is the ideal one for you. With the right training, effort and dedication, the final outcome will be a new trade as a professional welder in Montevallo AL.