How to Select the Right Welding Certification Course near Montgomery Alabama
Enrolling in the ideal welder technical school near Montgomery AL is an essential first step to beginning your new career as a professional welder. But since there are so many schools to choose from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more notably, once you have fine tuned your options, how do you pick the best one? A number of prospective students start by looking at the schools that are closest to their homes. When they have found those that are within driving distance, they gravitate toward the least expensive one. Yes, location and tuition cost are necessary considerations when reviewing welder technical schools, but they are not the only ones. Other factors include such things as reputation, accreditation and job placement rates. So before beginning your search for a vocational 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.
Welding Degree and Certificate Training Classes
There are multiple options available to obtain training as a welder in a technical or trade 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 combined with an apprenticeship program. Following are brief descriptions of the most typical welding programs available in the Montgomery AL area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are generally made available by technical and trade schools and take about a year to finish. They are more hands-on training in scope, designed mainly to teach 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 finish and are usually offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology offers a more extensive education than the diploma or certificate while still furnishing the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
A number of states and municipalities do have licensing prerequisites for welders, so be sure to check for your location of potential employment. As required, the welding school you pick should prep you for any licensing exams that you will have to take in addition to furnishing the proper training to become a qualified welder.
Welding Certification Choices
There are several organizations that offer welding certifications, which assess the skill level and knowledge of those applying. A large number of Montgomery AL employers not only expect a certificate or degree from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a renowned organization like the American Welding Society (AWS). A variety of certifications are offered based upon the kind of work that the welder does. A few of the things that certification can attest to are the welder's ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specific metal thicknesses
- Work with specific kinds of welds
- Perform based on contract specifications
As earlier stated, various states, cities or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those calling for licensing, a number also require certification for various types of work. Certification is also a way to prove to employers that you are a highly skilled and experienced welder. So just as with licensing, check the requirements for your local area and verify that the welding tech school you select preps you for certification as needed.
What to Ask Welding Trade Schools
When you have chosen the credential you would like to attain, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can begin to compare schools. As you can imagine, there are many welding trade and technical schools in the Montgomery AL area. That's why it's important to establish in advance what qualifications your selected school must have. We have already discussed a couple of significant ones that many people look at first, which are location and tuition cost. As stated, although they are very important qualifiers, they are not the only ones that should be looked at. After all, the program you pick is going to provide the education that will be the foundation of your new vocation as a welder. So following are some additional factors you might want to evaluate before picking a welding vocational school.
Accreditation. It's extremely important that the welding tech school you pick is accredited by either a regional or a national agency. There are 2 standard kinds of accreditation. The school may earn Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on an individual program the school has, such as Welding Technology. So make sure that the program you select is accredited, not just the school alone. 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 ensure that you obtain a superior education, the accreditation can also help in getting financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases not available in Montgomery AL for non-accredited schools. Finally, for those states or municipalities that mandate licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited as well.
Job Placement and Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous welding diploma or degree programs are offered combined with an apprenticeship program. Some other schools will help place you in a job or an apprenticeship upon graduation. Find out if the schools you are reviewing help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. The schools should have partnerships with local unions and various metal working businesses to which they can refer their students. More established schools may have a larger network of graduates that they can utilize for referrals. These programs can help students find employment and establish associations within the Montgomery AL welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that begin an instructional program and finish it. It's crucial that the welder program you select has a higher completion rate. A low rate may signify that the students who enrolled in the program were dissatisfied with the instruction, the teachers, 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 confirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of Montgomery AL contacts to assist students obtain apprenticeships or employment upon graduation.
Up-to-date Equipment and Facilities. Once you have narrowed down your choice of welding programs to 2 or 3 possibilities, you should consider visiting the campuses to look over their facilities. Make sure that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be taught on are modern. Specifically, the training equipment should be comparable to what you will be working with on the job. If you are unsure what to look for, and are currently in an apprenticeship program, ask the master welder you are working under for guidance. Otherwise, ask a local Montgomery AL welding contractor if they can give you a few pointers.
School Location. Even though we previously briefly talked about the importance of location, there are a couple of additional issues that we should address. You should remember that unless you can relocate, the welding school you choose needs to be within driving distance of your Montgomery AL home. If you do choose to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to moving expenses there may be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially true for welder diploma programs offered by community colleges. Also, if the school provides an apprenticeship or job placement program, most 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 ultimately will desire to work.
Small Classes. Individualized instruction is important for a manual trade such as welding. It's easy to get overlooked in larger classes and not obtain much one-on-one training. Find out what the usual class size is for the welder schools you are considering. Ask if you can attend a couple of classes so that you can see how much personal attention the students are receiving. While there, talk with some of the students and get their evaluations. Also, talk to a couple of the instructors and find out what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they hold.
Flexible Class Scheduling. Some people learn a new profession while still working at their present job. Make sure that the class schedules for the schools you are considering are convenient enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Montgomery AL, confirm that the schools you are reviewing offer those choices. If you can only enroll part-time, verify 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 Right Montgomery Welding Course for Certification
Choosing the best welder school will undoubtedly be the most critical decision you will make to launch your new profession. As we have addressed in this article, there are several factors that you will need to examine and compare among the schools you are looking at. It's a must that any welder training that you are considering includes a good deal of hands-on training. Classes should be small in size and each student must have their personal welding machine to train on. Classroom teaching should provide a real-world perspective, and the course of study should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Training programs vary in duration and the kind of credential provided, so you will need to ascertain what length of program and degree or certificate will best satisfy your needs. Each training program offers unique possibilities for certification as well. Probably The ideal means to research your final list of schools is to visit each campus and speak with the students and instructors. Take the time to sit in on some classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the training program you select is the best one for you. With the right training, effort and dedication, the end result will be a new trade as a professional welder in Montgomery AL.