How to Select the Best Welding Trade School near Montgomery Alabama
Choosing the right welder vocational school near Montgomery AL is an essential first step to launching your new career as a professional welder. But since there are so many schools to select from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more significantly, once you have narrowed down your choices, how do you select the best one? Many prospective students start by reviewing 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 tuition cost are crucial concerns when examining welder vocational schools, but they are not the only ones. Other considerations include such things as accreditation, reputation and job placement rates. So before initiating your search for a trade school to become a welder, it's sensible to develop a list of qualifications that your selected 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 multiple options available to get training as a welder in a trade or technical 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 degrees than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available along with an apprenticeship program. Following are short explanations of the most common 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 complete. They are more hands-on training in scope, fashioned primarily to develop welding skills. They can furnish a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or specialized skills for experienced welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take 2 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 certificate or diploma while still supplying the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
Many states and municipalities do have licensing requirements for welders, so don't forget to check for your location of future employment. As required, the welder school you pick should prepare you for any licensing exams that you will have to pass in addition to furnishing the suitable training to become a qualified welder.
Welding Certification Alternatives
There are several organizations that provide welder certifications, which evaluate the knowledge and skill level of those applying. Many Montgomery AL employers not only demand a degree or certificate from an accredited welding school, 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 performs. Just 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 various kinds of welds
- Work based on contract specifications
As earlier mentioned, some states, cities or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those requiring licensing, some additionally require certification for different types of work. Certification is also a means to demonstrate to employers that you are an extremely skilled and knowledgeable welder. So similarly as with licensing, look into the requirements for your local area and make certain that the welding technical school you decide on prepares you for certification as needed.
Questions to Ask Welding Technical Schools
As soon as you have chosen the credential you want to attain, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can start to evaluate schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are many welder trade and vocational schools in the Montgomery AL area. That's why it's necessary to decide in advance what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have previously covered 2 important ones that most people consider 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 program you select 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 need to evaluate before picking a welding tech school.
Accreditation. It's essential that the welding technical school you decide on is accredited by either a regional or a national agency. There are 2 standard types of accreditation. The school may attain Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a specific program the school offers, 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 acknowledged accrediting organization, like the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). In addition to helping make sure that you obtain an excellent education, the accreditation might also assist in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently unavailable in Montgomery AL for schools that are not accredited. Finally, for those states or municipalities that require licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited as well.
Job Assistance and Apprenticeship Programs. Many welder degree or diploma programs are provided combined with an apprenticeship program. Some other schools will help place you in a job or an apprenticeship upon graduation. Ask if the schools you are considering help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. The schools must have relationships with local unions and other metal working businesses to which they can place 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 relationships within the Montgomery AL welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that begin an instructional program and finish it. It's important that the welder school you select has a high completion rate. A reduced rate might mean that the students who were 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 high job placement rate will not only verify that the school has an excellent reputation within the trade, but additionally that it has the network of Montgomery AL contacts to help students obtain apprenticeships or employment upon graduation.
Modern Equipment and Facilities. After you have decreased your choice of welder schools to two or three options, you should consider going to the campuses to inspect their facilities. Confirm 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 not sure 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 a few tips.
School Location. Even though we previously briefly covered the importance of location, there are a couple of additional points that we need to address. You should keep in mind that unless you can move, the welding program you choose must be within driving distance of your Montgomery AL home. If you do choose to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation expenses there could be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially the case for welding degree programs offered by community colleges. Furthermore, 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 should be in an area or state where you ultimately will wish to work.
Small Classes. One-on-one instruction is essential for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's possible to get overlooked in bigger classes and not obtain much one-on-one instruction. Find out what the usual class size is for the welder schools you are looking at. Ask if you can sit in on some classes so that you can witness just how much personal attention the students are receiving. While there, speak with a few of the students and get their opinions. Also, talk to a few of the instructors and ask what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they have earned.
Flexible Class Scheduling. Lots of folks learn a new trade while still employed at their present job. Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are reviewing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Montgomery AL, verify that the schools you are reviewing provide those options. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you select 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 Montgomery Welding Program for Certification
Picking the best welding school will probably be the most critical decision you will make to launch your new trade. As we have covered in this article, there are many factors that you will need to evaluate and compare among the schools you are looking at. It's a must that any welder school that you are assessing includes a lot of hands-on training. Classes should be smaller in size and every student must have their personal welding machine to train on. Classroom education needs to offer a real-world perspective, and the course of study should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Programs differ in length and the kind of credential provided, so you will need to ascertain what length of program and degree or certificate will best serve your needs. Each program offers different options for certification as well. Probably The ideal approach to research your short list of schools is to visit each campus and talk with the teachers and students. Invest some time to sit in on a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the school you decide on is the ideal one for you. With the right training, hard work and commitment, the end result will be a new occupation as a professional welder in Montgomery AL.