How to Enroll In the Best Welding Certificate Program near Mountain Brook Alabama
Choosing the right welding technical school near Mountain Brook AL is an essential first step to starting your new career as a professional welder. But since there are numerous schools to select from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more significantly, once you have fine tuned your options, how do you select the best one? Many prospective students begin by reviewing the schools that are nearest to their homes. When they have identified those that are within commuting distance, they are drawn toward the least costly one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are important issues when evaluating welding trade 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 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 Programs
There are several options available to receive training as a welder in a technical or trade school. You can receive a diploma, a certificate or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are available in Welding Technology or Welding Engineering, but are more advanced degrees than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Following are brief summaries of the most common welding programs available in the Mountain Brook 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 mainly to teach welding skills. They can furnish a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or supplemental skills for experienced welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take 2 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 certificate or diploma while still supplying the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
Many states and municipalities do have licensing prerequisites for welders, so don't forget to find out for your location of potential employment. If required, the welding school you choose should ready you for any licensing examinations that you will need to pass in addition to providing the suitable training to become a professional welder.
Welder Certification Alternatives
There are several organizations that provide welding certifications, which test the knowledge and skill level of those applying. Many Mountain Brook AL employers not only require a certificate or degree from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a renowned agency like the American Welding Society (AWS). Different certifications are offered based on the kind of work that the welder performs. Some of the things that certification can attest to are the welder's ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specific metal thicknesses
- Work with certain kinds of welds
- Work according to contract specifications
As earlier mentioned, many cities, states or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those mandating licensing, a number also require certification for various kinds of work. Certification is also a way to prove to employers that you are a highly skilled and qualified welder. So similarly as with licensing, check the requirements for your location and make sure that the welder technical school you decide on preps you for certification if needed.
Points to Ask Welding Technical Programs
Once you have chosen the credential you want to attain, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can start to assess schools. As you can imagine, there are a large number of welder trade and technical schools in the Mountain Brook AL area. That's why it's essential to determine in advance what qualifications your chosen school must have. We have already covered two significant ones that many people look at first, which are location and tuition cost. As mentioned, although they are very important qualifications, they are not the only ones that should be looked at. After all, the program you pick is going to furnish the education that will be the foundation of your new profession as a welder. So below are some additional factors you might want to evaluate before picking a welding technical school.
Accreditation. It's extremely important that the welding tech school you select is accredited by either a national or a regional organization. There are 2 basic 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, for example Welding Technology. So confirm that the program you pick is accredited, not just the school itself. Additionally, 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 receive an excellent education, the accreditation might also assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are often not offered in Mountain Brook AL for non-accredited schools. Also, for those states or municipalities that mandate licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited also.
Apprenticeship and Job Assistance Programs. A large number of welding degree or certificate programs are provided combined with an apprenticeship program. Some other schools will assist in placing you in an apprenticeship or a job after graduation. Find out if the schools you are considering help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. These schools should have associations with local unions and various metal working businesses to which they can refer their students. Older schools may have a larger network of graduates that they can rely upon for referrals. These programs can assist students in finding employment and establish associations within the Mountain Brook AL welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that start an educational program and finish it. It's crucial that the welder school you pick has a higher completion rate. A reduced rate might indicate that the students who joined the program were dissatisfied with the training, the instructors, or the facilities, and quit. The job placement rate is also an indication of the quality of training. A high job placement rate will not only affirm that the program has a good reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of Mountain Brook AL employer relationships to help students secure apprenticeships or employment upon graduation.
Up-to-date Equipment and Facilities. Once you have narrowed down your selection of welding programs to 2 or 3 possibilities, you should consider going to the campuses to inspect their facilities. Verify that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be taught 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 already in an apprenticeship program, consult with the master welder you are working under for guidance. If not, ask a local Mountain Brook AL welding contractor if they can give you some tips.
School Location. Although we previously briefly talked about the relevance of location, there are a couple of additional issues that we need to deal with. You should keep in mind that unless you are able to move, the welder school you choose must be within commuting distance of your Mountain Brook AL home. If you do opt 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 welding certificate programs offered by community colleges. Furthermore, if the school offers an apprenticeship or job placement program, often their placements are within the school's local community. So the location of the school needs to be in an area or state where you ultimately will desire to work.
Smaller Classes. One-on-one training is important for a manual trade such as welding. It's possible to get lost in bigger classes and not get much one-on-one training. Ask what the typical class size is for the welding programs you are reviewing. Inquire if you can sit in on a few classes so that you can observe just how much individual attention the students are receiving. While there, speak with a few of the students and get their evaluations. Similarly, speak with a couple of the instructors and find out what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they hold.
Flexible Class Scheduling. Lots of folks learn a new profession while still employed at their present job. Check to see that the class schedules for the schools you are considering are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Mountain Brook AL, verify that the schools you are looking at offer those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, verify that the school you choose offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the policy is to make up classes if you you miss any because of illness, work or family circumstances.
Choose the Right Mountain Brook Welding Course for Certification
Picking the right welding school will probably be the most important decision you will make to launch your new profession. As we have covered in this article, there are a number of things that you will need to evaluate and compare among the schools you are looking at. It's a necessity that any welding training program that you are assessing includes a lot of hands-on training. Classes need to be small in size and every student should have their personal welding machine to train with. Classroom teaching should offer a real-world frame of reference, and the course of study should be current and in-line with industry standards. Programs differ in length and the kind of credential provided, so you will need to decide what length of program and degree or certificate will best fulfill your needs. Each training program provides different possibilities for certification as well. Perhaps the best approach to research your final list of schools is to check out each campus and talk with the students and faculty. Take the time to attend some classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the program you decide on is the best one for you. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, the final result will be a new occupation as a professional welder in Mountain Brook AL.