How to Find the Right Welding Training Classes near Montgomery Alabama
Selecting the right welder school near Montgomery AL is an important first step to launching your new career as a professional welder. But since there are a lot of schools to pick from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more significantly, once you have fine tuned your alternatives, how do you pick the best one? Most people begin by checking out the schools that are closest to their homes. Once they have located those that are within commuting distance, they gravitate toward the least expensive one. Yes, location and tuition cost are crucial issues when reviewing welding technical schools, but they are not the only ones. Other factors include such things as reputation, accreditation and job placement rates. So before initiating your search for a vocational school to become a welder, it's prudent 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 multiple alternatives available to obtain 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 available in Welding Engineering or Welding Technology, but are more advanced courses than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Below are short summaries of the most common welding programs offered in the Montgomery AL area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are usually made available by technical and trade schools and take about 1 year to finish. They are more hands-on training in nature, designed primarily to teach 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 two years to complete and are most often offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology provides a more well-rounded education than the diploma or certificate while still supplying the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
Many states and municipalities do have licensing requirements for welders, therefore don't forget to find out for your location of potential employment. As needed, the welding school you pick should ready you for any licensing examinations that you will have to pass in addition to supplying the suitable training to become a professional welder.
Welder Certification Alternatives
There are multiple organizations that provide welding certifications, which test the skill level and knowledge of those applying. A large number of Montgomery AL employers not only demand a certificate or degree from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a respected agency like the American Welding Society (AWS). A wide range of certifications are available based on the kind of work that the welder performs. 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 various types of welds
- Operate according to contract specifications
As previously stated, some states, cities or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those mandating licensing, many also require certification for different kinds of work. Certification is also a means to prove to employers that you are an extremely skilled and knowledgeable welder. So just as with licensing, look into the requirements for your location and make sure that the welding vocational school you decide on prepares you for certification as needed.
Points to Ask Welding Trade Programs
Once you have decided on the credential you want to obtain, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can begin to evaluate schools. As you probably know, there are many welder trade and technical schools in the Montgomery AL area. That's why it's essential to establish up front what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have already covered 2 important ones that most people look at first, which are location and tuition cost. As mentioned, although they are very important qualifiers, they are not the only ones that need to be considered. After all, the school you pick is going to provide the education that will be the foundation of your new vocation as a welder. So below are some additional factors you might want to consider before choosing a welding vocational school.
Accreditation. It's extremely important that the welder trade school you pick is accredited by either a national or a regional organization. There are 2 standard types of accreditation. The school may earn Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on an individual program the school offers, for instance Welding Technology. So verify that the program you pick is accredited, not just the school alone. Also, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, such as the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping ensure that you receive an excellent education, the accreditation may also help in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently unavailable in Montgomery AL for non-accredited schools. Also, for those states or municipalities that require licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited also.
Apprenticeship and Job Placement Programs. Many welder degree or diploma programs are offered combined with an apprenticeship program. Various other schools will help place you in a job or an apprenticeship upon graduation. Ask if the schools you are reviewing help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. These schools should have partnerships with local unions and other metal working businesses to which they can place their students. More established schools may have a more substantial network of graduates that they can rely upon for referrals. These programs can assist students in finding 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 enroll in an academic program and finish it. It's essential that the welder program you select has a high completion rate. A lower rate may signify that the students who were in the program were unhappy with the instruction, the instructors, or the facilities, and quit. 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 a good reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of Montgomery AL contacts to assist students secure employment or apprenticeships after graduation.
Up-to-date Equipment and Facilities. Once you have decreased your choice of welding programs to two or three options, you should think out visiting the campuses to look over 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 comparable to what you will be working with in the field. If you are uncertain 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 some pointers.
School Location. Even though we already briefly talked about the importance of location, there are a few additional points that we need to address. You should bear in mind that unless you can move, the welding school you choose must be within commuting distance of your Montgomery AL home. If you do decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there might be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially the case for welder diploma programs offered by community colleges. Furthermore, 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 needs to be in a region or state where you subsequently will wish to work.
Small Classes. Individualized training is essential for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's easy to be overlooked in bigger classes and not receive much individualized training. Ask what the usual class size is for the welder schools you are reviewing. Ask if you can attend some classes so that you can witness just how much individual attention the students are receiving. While there, talk with a few of the students and get their evaluations. Similarly, speak with some of the teachers and find out what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they hold.
Convenient Class Schedules. Many people learn a new profession while still working at their current job. Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are flexible enough to satisfy your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Montgomery AL, verify that the schools you are reviewing offer those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, verify that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the protocol is to make up classes if you you miss any because of work, sickness or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Montgomery Welding Program for Certification
Picking the best welding training program will probably be the most critical decision you will make to launch your new career. As we have discussed in this article, there are many factors that you will need to assess and compare between the programs you are reviewing. It's a necessity that any welder training program that you are considering includes a lot of hands-on instruction. Classes should be smaller in size and each student should have their own welding machine to train on. Classroom education should provide a real-world frame of reference, and the training program should be current and conform with industry standards. Courses differ in duration and the type of credential provided, so you will need to determine what length of program and certificate or degree will best satisfy your needs. Every training program offers unique possibilities for certification as well. Perhaps The ideal means to research your short list of schools is to check out each campus and talk with the teachers and students. Take the time to attend a few classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the training program you select is the best one for you. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, the final result will be a new career as a professional welder in Montgomery AL.