How to Enroll In the Best Welding Certificate Program near Montgomery Alabama
Locating the ideal welding vocational school near Montgomery AL is an important first step to starting your new career as a professional welder. But since there are a lot of schools to select from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more notably, once you have narrowed down your options, how do you select the best one? Many people start by checking out the schools that are nearest 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 concerns when examining welding vocational schools, but they are not the only ones. Other concerns include such things as accreditation, reputation and job placement rates. So before beginning your search for a vocational school to become a welder, it's wise 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 Degree and Certificate Training Classes
There are several alternatives available to get 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 offered in Welding Technology or Welding Engineering, but are more advanced degrees than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also offered along with an apprenticeship program. Following are brief descriptions of the most typical welding programs offered in the Montgomery AL area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are usually made available by technical and trade schools and require about a year to finish. They are more hands-on training in scope, fashioned primarily to teach welding skills. They can furnish a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or specialized 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 well-rounded education than the diploma or certificate while still furnishing the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
Many states and municipalities do have licensing requirements for welders, therefore don't forget to check 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 providing the proper training to become a qualified welder.
Welder Certification Alternatives
There are a number of organizations that provide welding certifications, which test the skill level and knowledge of those applying. A large number of Montgomery AL employers not only require a degree or certificate from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a renowned agency such as the American Welding Society (AWS). Different certifications are offered based on the kind of work that the welder does. Some of the skills that certification can attest to 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 previously mentioned, many cities, states or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those requiring licensing, a number additionally require certification for various kinds of work. Certification is also a way to demonstrate to employers that you are an exceptionally skilled and qualified welder. So similarly as with licensing, look into the requirements for your location and confirm that the welder vocational school you decide on readies you for certification if needed.
Topics to Ask Welder Technical Schools
After you have decided on the credential you want to earn, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can begin to evaluate schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are many welder vocational and trade schools in the Montgomery AL area. That's why it's important to determine up front what qualifications your selected school must have. We have already discussed 2 important ones that most people look at first, which are location and tuition cost. As stated, although they are essential qualifications, they are not the only ones that must be considered. After all, the school you pick is going to furnish the instruction that will be the foundation of your new profession as a welder. So following are some additional factors you might need to evaluate before selecting a welding trade school.
Accreditation. It's very important that the welder vocational school you choose is accredited by either a national or a regional agency. There are two standard types of accreditation. The school may earn Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a single program the school has, for instance Welding Technology. So make certain that the program you choose 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 quality education, the accreditation may also assist in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently unavailable in Montgomery AL for schools that are not accredited. Also, for those states or local governments that require licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited as well.
Job Assistance and Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of welding diploma or degree programs are provided combined with an apprenticeship program. Some other schools will help place you in an apprenticeship or a job upon graduation. Ask if the schools you are reviewing assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. These schools must have partnerships with local unions and other metal working businesses to which they can refer their students. More established 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 Montgomery AL welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that begin an educational program and complete it. It's crucial that the welder school you pick has a higher completion rate. A lower rate could indicate that the students who enrolled in the program were unhappy with the training, the instructors, 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 program has a good reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of Montgomery AL contacts to assist students secure apprenticeships or employment after graduation.
Up-to-date Facilities and Equipment. After you have decreased your selection of welder schools to 2 or 3 possibilities, you should consider visiting the campuses to look over their facilities. Make sure 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 using in the field. If you are unsure 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 Montgomery AL welding contractor if they can give you a few pointers.
School Location. Even though we previously briefly covered the importance of location, there are a couple of additional issues that we need to cover. You should keep in mind that unless you can move, the welding program you choose needs to be within commuting distance of your Montgomery AL home. If you do choose to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to moving expenses there might be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially the case for welding degree programs offered by community colleges. Additionally, if the school offers a job placement or apprenticeship program, more than likely their placements are within the school's local community. So the location of the school should be in a region or state where you ultimately will desire to work.
Small Classes. Personalized instruction is important for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's easy to get overlooked in larger classes and not get much individualized training. Find out what the typical class size is for the welding schools you are considering. Inquire if you can attend some classes so that you can observe how much individual attention the students are getting. While there, talk with a few of the students and get their feedback. Also, speak with a couple of the teachers and find out what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they hold.
Convenient Class Schedules. Lots of folks learn a new trade while still employed at their present job. Verify 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, confirm that the schools you are assessing provide those choices. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the protocol is to make up classes should you miss any due to illness, work or family circumstances.
Find the Best Montgomery Welding School for Certification
Choosing the ideal welder school will undoubtedly be the most important decision you will make to launch your new profession. As we have covered in this article, there are many factors that you will need to assess and compare among the schools you are considering. It's a necessity that any welder school that you are examining includes a good deal of hands-on training. Classes need to be small in size and every student should have their personal welding machine to train with. Classroom instruction needs to offer a real-world context, and the curriculum should be current and in-line with industry standards. Programs vary in length and the kind of credential offered, so you will have to ascertain what length of program and degree or certificate will best satisfy your needs. Each program provides unique possibilities for certification also. Perhaps the best approach to research your short list of schools is to go to each campus and speak with the faculty and students. Invest some time to monitor some classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the training program you pick is the ideal one for you. With the proper training, effort and dedication, the end result will be a new trade as a professional welder in Montgomery AL.