How to Pick the Best Welding Degree Program near Montgomery Alabama
Choosing the ideal welding technical school near Montgomery AL is an essential first step to beginning your new career as a professional welder. But since there are numerous schools to choose from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more notably, once you have fine tuned your alternatives, how do you pick the right one? A number of prospective students start by checking out the schools that are closest to their homes. When they have identified those that are within driving distance, they gravitate toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are crucial issues when evaluating welding vocational schools, but they are not the only ones. Other concerns include such things as accreditation, reputation and job placement rates. So before starting your search for a trade school to become a welder, it's sensible to establish a list of qualifications that your selected school must have. But before we examine our due diligence checklist, let's talk a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welder Certificate and Degree Training Courses
There are multiple options available to receive training as a welder in a trade or vocational school. You can earn a a certificate, a diploma or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are available in Welding Technology or Welding Engineering, but are more advanced programs than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also offered combined with an apprenticeship program. Following are brief explanations of the most common welding programs offered in the Montgomery AL area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are normally made available by technical and trade schools and take about one year to finish. They are more hands-on training in nature, designed mainly to teach welding skills. They can furnish a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or supplemental skills for working welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take two years to finish 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 prepares students to enter the workforce.
Some states and municipalities do have licensing requirements for welders, so don't forget to check for your location of potential employment. As required, the welder school you choose should prepare you for any licensing exams that you will have to pass in addition to providing the proper training to become a professional welder.
Welding Certification Options
There are multiple institutions that offer welding certifications, which test the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Many Montgomery AL employers not only require a degree or certificate from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a highly regarded agency such as the American Welding Society (AWS). A variety of certifications are offered based upon the type of work that the welder does. Just some of the things that certification can acknowledge are the welder's ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specific metal thicknesses
- Work with various types of welds
- Perform based on contract specifications
As previously stated, various states, cities or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those mandating licensing, many also require certification for various types of work. Certification is also a means to prove to employers that you are a highly skilled and experienced welder. So just as with licensing, check the requirements for your location and make sure that the welding tech school you select prepares you for certification if needed.
What to Ask Welder Technical Programs
As soon as you have decided on the credential you want to obtain, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can begin to evaluate schools. As you can imagine, there are many welding trade and vocational schools in the Montgomery AL area. That's why it's essential to determine in advance what qualifications your selected school must have. We have already discussed two significant ones that most people look at first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As stated, although they are essential qualifications, they are not the only ones that need to be looked at. After all, the school you choose is going to furnish the training that will be the foundation of your new career as a welder. So below are some additional factors you may need to consider before picking a welder trade school.
Accreditation. It's extremely important that the welder vocational school you choose is accredited by either a national or a regional organization. There are two standard kinds of accreditation. The school may receive Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a specific program the school offers, for example Welding Technology. So make certain that the program you pick is accredited, not just the school itself. 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 get a quality education, the accreditation may also help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases not available in Montgomery AL for schools that are not accredited. Finally, for those states or municipalities that require licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited as well.
Apprenticeship and Job Assistance Programs. Many welder diploma or degree programs are offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Some other schools will assist in placing you in an apprenticeship or a job upon graduation. Ask if the schools you are reviewing help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. These schools must 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 referrals. These programs can help students find employment and establish relationships within the Montgomery AL welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that enroll in an instructional program and finish it. It's important that the welder school you choose has a higher completion rate. A low rate may indicate that the students who joined 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 quality of training. A higher job placement rate will not only verify that the school has an excellent reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of Montgomery AL contacts to help students secure apprenticeships or employment upon graduation.
Modern Facilities and Equipment. After you have limited your choice of welder schools to two or three possibilities, you should consider going to the campuses to look over their facilities. Make sure that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be taught on are modern. In particular, the training equipment should be comparable to what you will be working with in the field. If you are unsure what to look for, and are already in an apprenticeship program, consult with the master welder you are working under for guidance. If not, ask a local Montgomery AL welding professional if they can give you some pointers.
School Location. Although we previously briefly discussed the importance of location, there are a couple of additional issues that we need to cover. You should keep in mind that unless you are able to move, the welding program you pick must be within driving distance of your Montgomery AL home. If you do decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides moving costs there may be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly the case for welding certificate programs offered by community colleges. Also, if the school offers a job placement or apprenticeship program, most likely their placements are within the school's local community. So the location of the school should be in an area or state where you subsequently will wish to work.
Small Classes. One-on-one instruction is important for a manual trade such as welding. It's possible to get overlooked in bigger classes and not receive much one-on-one training. Find out what the usual class size is for the welder schools you are considering. Inquire if you can sit in on some classes so that you can see how much individual attention the students are getting. While there, talk with a few of the students and get their evaluations. Similarly, chat with a few of the instructors and find out what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they have earned.
Flexible Class Scheduling. Many people learn a new profession while still employed at their present job. Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are considering are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Montgomery AL, verify that the schools you are looking at offer those options. If you can only attend 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 because of work, sickness or family responsibilities.
Find the Best Montgomery Welding Course for Certification
Choosing the ideal welder training program will probably 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 necessity that any welding training program that you are reviewing includes a good deal of hands-on training. Classes need to be small in size and each student must have their own welding machine to train on. Classroom instruction needs to provide a real-world frame of reference, and the curriculum should be current and conform with industry standards. Programs vary in duration and the kind of credential provided, so you will need to decide what length of program and certificate or degree will best fulfill your needs. Every training program offers unique options for certification also. Perhaps The ideal means to research your short list of schools is to visit each campus and speak with the faculty and students. Invest some time to attend a few classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the program you pick is the ideal one for you. With the proper training, effort and dedication, the final result will be a new occupation as a professional welder in Montgomery AL.