How to Choose the Best Welder Degree Program near Montevallo Alabama
Locating the ideal welding trade school near Montevallo AL is an essential first step to starting your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are numerous schools to pick from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more significantly, once you have fine tuned your choices, how do you pick the best one? Many prospective students start by reviewing the schools that are closest to their homes. Once they have located those that are within driving distance, they are drawn toward the least costly one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are necessary issues when evaluating welder vocational 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 wise to establish a list of qualifications that your chosen school must have. But before we examine our due diligence checklist, let's cover a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welder Certificate and Degree Training
There are several options available to get 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 courses than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also offered combined with an apprenticeship program. Below are brief explanations of the most prevalent welding programs available in the Montevallo AL area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are usually made available by technical and trade schools and require about one year to complete. 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 supplemental 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 offers a more well-rounded education than the certificate or diploma while still furnishing the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
Some municipalities and states do have licensing requirements for welders, so make sure to find out for your location of future employment. As required, the welding school you pick should prep you for any licensing exams that you will need to take in addition to supplying the appropriate training to become a professional welder.
Welder Certification Choices
There are various institutions that offer welding certifications, which test the knowledge and skill level of those applying. A large number of Montevallo AL employers not only require a degree or certificate from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a highly regarded agency like the American Welding Society (AWS). Different certifications are available based upon the type of work that the welder performs. Just some of the things that certification can attest to are the welder's ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with certain metal thicknesses
- Work with various types of welds
- Operate based on contract specifications
As earlier mentioned, various cities, states or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those calling for licensing, many also require certification for different kinds of work. Certification is also a means to demonstrate to employers that you are a highly skilled and knowledgeable welder. So just as with licensing, check the requirements for your local area and make sure that the welder vocational school you decide on readies you for certification as needed.
Topics to Ask Welder Trade Schools
Once you have chosen the credential you want to attain, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can begin to assess schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are numerous welding vocational and trade schools in the Montevallo AL area. That's why it's important to determine up front what qualifications your chosen school must have. We have already discussed a couple of significant ones that most 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 pick is going to provide the instruction that will be the foundation of your new career as a welder. So below are more factors you might need to consider before choosing a welder trade school.
Accreditation. It's very important that the welder trade school you pick is accredited by either a national or a regional agency. There are 2 basic types of accreditation. The school may attain Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on an individual program the school offers, for example Welding Technology. So make sure that the program you pick is accredited, not just the school alone. Additionally, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, for example the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). In addition to helping make sure that you receive a quality education, the accreditation might also help in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases not available in Montevallo AL for non-accredited schools. Finally, for those states or municipalities that mandate licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited also.
Apprenticeship and Job Placement Programs. A large number of welding degree or diploma programs are offered combined with an apprenticeship program. Some other schools will assist in placing you in an apprenticeship or a job after 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 associations with local unions and various metal working businesses to which they can place their students. Older schools may have a more substantial network of graduates that they can rely upon for placements. These programs can assist students in finding employment and develop associations within the Montevallo AL welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that start an educational program and complete it. It's crucial that the welder program you choose has a higher completion rate. A reduced rate could signify that the students who enrolled in the program were unhappy with the training, the instructors, or the facilities, and quit. The job placement rate is also an indication of the caliber of training. A high job placement rate will not only verify 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 Equipment and Facilities. Once you have limited your choice of welding programs to 2 or 3 possibilities, you should consider going to the campuses to inspect their facilities. Verify that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are modern. Specifically, 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 already in an apprenticeship program, ask 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 previously briefly discussed the importance of location, there are a couple of additional points that we should cover. You should remember that unless you have the ability to relocate, the welder program you select needs to be within driving distance of your Montevallo AL home. If you do opt to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides moving expenses there might be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially the case for welder certificate programs offered by community colleges. Also, if the school provides a job placement or apprenticeship program, more than likely their placements are within the school's regional community. So the location of the school needs to be in a region or state where you subsequently will want to work.
Small Classes. Personalized training is essential for a manual trade such as welding. It's possible to get overlooked in larger classes and not obtain much individualized instruction. Find out what the typical class size is for the welding programs you are looking at. Ask if you can sit in on some classes so that you can see just how much personal attention the students are receiving. While there, talk with some of the students and get their opinions. Similarly, speak with some of the teachers and find out what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they have earned.
Flexible Class Schedules. Some people learn a new profession while still employed at their present job. Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are considering are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Montevallo AL, verify that the schools you are looking at offer those alternatives. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, verify 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.
Choose the Best Montevallo Welding Course for Certification
Picking the ideal welder school will undoubtedly be the most important decision you will make to start your new career. As we have discussed in this article, there are several factors that you will need to assess and compare among the schools you are looking at. It's a necessity that any welder training that you are considering includes a considerable amount of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be smaller in size and every student should have their personal welding machine to train with. Classroom teaching should offer a real-world frame of reference, and the course of study should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Programs vary in duration and the kind of credential offered, so you will need to decide what length of program and credential will best fulfill your needs. Every program offers unique possibilities for certification also. Perhaps the best means to research your short list of schools is to visit each campus and talk with the faculty and students. Invest some time to sit in on some 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 right training, effort and commitment, the final outcome will be a new occupation as a professional welder in Montevallo AL.