How to Pick the Right Welding Technical School near Montevallo Alabama
Locating the right welder school near Montevallo AL is an essential first step to beginning your new career as a professional welder. But since there are so many schools to pick from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more significantly, once you have narrowed down your choices, how do you pick the right one? Most people begin by looking at the schools that are nearest to their residences. When they have located those that are within driving distance, they gravitate toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are necessary concerns when examining welding vocational 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 develop 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.
Welder Certificate and Degree Training Programs
There are a number of options available to receive training as a welder in a trade or vocational school. You can obtain a a certificate, a diploma or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are offered in Welding Engineering or Welding Technology, but are more advanced degrees than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Following are brief descriptions of the most prevalent welding programs offered in the Montevallo AL area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are usually made available by technical and trade schools and take about one year to complete. They are more hands-on training in nature, fashioned mainly to develop welding skills. They can furnish a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or additional skills for working welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take two years to complete and are most often offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology furnishes a more extensive 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 prerequisites for welders, so don't forget to check for your location of potential employment. If required, the welding school you choose should prepare you for any licensing examinations that you will need to pass in addition to furnishing the appropriate training to become a qualified welder.
Welding Certification Choices
There are several institutions that provide welding certifications, which test the knowledge and skill level of those applying. Many Montevallo AL employers not only demand a certificate or degree from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a respected organization such as the American Welding Society (AWS). A wide range of certifications are offered based upon the kind of work that the welder does. Some of the things that certification can acknowledge are the welder's ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specified metal thicknesses
- Work with certain types of welds
- Perform according to contract specifications
As earlier mentioned, various states, cities or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those calling for licensing, some also require certification for various kinds of work. Certification is also a way to demonstrate to employers that you are a highly skilled and knowledgeable welder. So just as with licensing, check the requirements for your location and make certain that the welding technical school you select preps you for certification as needed.
Points to Ask Welding Technical Programs
When you have decided on the credential you would like to earn, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can start to evaluate schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are numerous welding trade and technical schools in the Montevallo AL area. That's why it's important to determine in advance what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have previously covered a couple of important ones that most people consider first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As stated, although they are very important qualifiers, they are not the only ones that need to be considered. After all, the program you decide on is going to furnish the training that will be the foundation of your new profession as a welder. So following are more factors you may want to consider before choosing a welding trade school.
Accreditation. It's extremely important that the welder vocational school you choose is accredited by either a national or a regional agency. There are two basic kinds of accreditation. The school may attain Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a single program the school offers, for instance Welding Technology. So confirm 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, like the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). In addition to helping ensure that you receive an excellent education, the accreditation might also help in securing financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable in Montevallo AL for schools that are not accredited. Also, 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 offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Some other schools will help place you in an apprenticeship or a job after graduation. Find out if the schools you are looking at help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. The schools should have partnerships with local unions and other 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 help students find employment and establish relationships within the Montevallo AL welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that begin an educational program and complete it. It's important that the welder program you pick has a high completion rate. A low rate may indicate that the students who were in the program were dissatisfied with the instruction, the instructors, or the facilities, and dropped out. The job placement rate is also a good indicator of the caliber of training. A higher job placement rate will not only verify that the program has an excellent reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of Montevallo AL contacts to help students secure apprenticeships or employment upon graduation.
Up-to-date Facilities and Equipment. After you have narrowed down your selection of welding schools to 2 or 3 possibilities, you should think out going to the campuses to evaluate their facilities. Make sure that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be trained on are up-to-date. In particular, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be using 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. If not, ask a local Montevallo AL welding contractor if they can give you a few pointers.
School Location. Even though we already briefly talked about the relevance of location, there are a couple of additional issues that we should deal with. You should bear in mind that unless you can move, the welding program you pick must be within driving distance of your Montevallo AL home. If you do decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides relocation costs there could be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly the case for welder degree programs offered by community colleges. Also, if the school provides an apprenticeship or job placement program, often their placements are within the school's local community. So the location of the school should be in a region or state where you subsequently will desire to work.
Smaller Classes. Individualized instruction is essential for a manual trade such as welding. It's possible to be overlooked in bigger classes and not receive much personalized training. Find out what the average class size is for the welder schools you are reviewing. Ask if you can sit in on a few 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 opinions. Similarly, chat with a few of the teachers and ask what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they hold.
Flexible Class Scheduling. Lots of folks learn a new trade while still employed at their current job. Check to see 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 Montevallo AL, verify that the schools you are assessing provide those alternatives. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you decide on offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the policy is to make up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Montevallo Welding Program for Certification
Selecting the ideal welding training program will undoubtedly be the most important decision you will make to begin your new profession. As we have covered in this article, there are a number of things that you will need to assess and compare between the programs you are looking at. It's a must that any welding training program that you are assessing includes a considerable amount of hands-on instruction. Classes should be smaller in size and every student must have their personal welding machine to train with. Classroom instruction needs to provide a real-world frame of reference, and the training program should be current and in-line with industry standards. Courses vary in length and the kind of credential offered, so you will need to decide what length of program and degree or certificate will best satisfy your needs. Each program provides different options for certification as well. Probably the best approach to research your short list of schools is to visit each campus and talk with the students and faculty. Take the time to sit in on a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the school you pick is the ideal one for you. With the right training, hard work and commitment, the final outcome will be a new occupation as a professional welder in Montevallo AL.