How to Pick the Right Welding Certificate Program near Mountain Brook Alabama
Selecting the right welding trade school near Mountain Brook AL is an important first step to launching your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are so many schools to select from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more importantly, once you have narrowed down your options, how do you pick the best one? Many prospective students begin by reviewing the schools that are closest to their residences. Once they have identified those that are within commuting distance, they are drawn toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and tuition cost are crucial concerns when examining welding trade schools, but they are not the only ones. Other concerns 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 establish a list of qualifications that your chosen 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 alternatives available to receive training as a welder in a technical or trade school. You can earn a diploma, a certificate 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 combined with an apprenticeship program. Following are brief summaries of the most typical welding programs available in the Mountain Brook AL area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are normally offered by trade and technical schools and take about a year to finish. They are more hands-on training in scope, created largely 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 2 years to finish and are most often offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology offers a more well-rounded education than the diploma or certificate while still providing the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
A number of states and municipalities do have licensing requirements for welders, therefore be sure to find out for your location of potential employment. If needed, the welding school you pick should ready you for any licensing exams that you will have to take in addition to furnishing the appropriate training to become a professional welder.
Welding Certification Alternatives
There are several organizations that provide welder certifications, which evaluate the knowledge and skill level of those applying. A large number of Mountain Brook AL employers not only require a certificate or degree from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a highly regarded organization such as the American Welding Society (AWS). Different certifications are offered dependent on the kind of work that the welder does. Some of the things that certification can attest to are the welder's ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with certain metal thicknesses
- Work with certain types of welds
- Perform in compliance with contract specifications
As already stated, many cities, states or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those mandating licensing, many additionally require certification for different kinds of work. Certification is also a way to prove to employers that you are an exceptionally skilled and knowledgeable welder. So just as with licensing, look into the requirements for your location and make sure that the welder tech school you choose prepares you for certification if needed.
Subjects to Ask Welding Trade Schools
When you have decided on the credential you would like to attain, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can start to assess schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are many welding trade and vocational schools in the Mountain Brook AL area. That's why it's important to establish in advance what qualifications your chosen school must have. We have already covered a couple of important ones that most people consider first, which are location and tuition cost. As mentioned, although they are essential qualifiers, they are not the only ones that need to be considered. After all, the school you select is going to provide the instruction that will be the foundation of your new career as a welder. So following are more factors you might need to evaluate before picking a welder trade school.
Accreditation. It's essential that the welding technical school you choose is accredited by either a regional or a national agency. There are 2 standard kinds of accreditation. The school may earn 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 certain that the program you choose is accredited, not just the school alone. 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). Besides helping ensure that you get a superior education, the accreditation might also help in getting financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases not offered in Mountain Brook AL for non-accredited schools. Finally, for those states or local governments that require licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited as well.
Apprenticeship and Job Assistance Programs. Many welder degree or certificate programs are provided combined with an apprenticeship program. Various other schools will assist in placing you in an apprenticeship or a job after graduation. Ask if the schools you are considering assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. The schools must have partnerships with local unions and various metal working businesses to which they can refer their students. More established schools may have a more substantial network of graduates that they can utilize for referrals. These programs can assist students in finding employment and establish associations within the Mountain Brook AL welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that begin an academic program and complete it. It's essential that the welder school you choose has a high completion rate. A low rate could indicate that the students who enrolled in the program were unhappy with the instruction, the teachers, or the facilities, and dropped out. The job placement rate is also a good indicator of the quality of training. A higher job placement rate will not only confirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the trade, but additionally that it has the network of Mountain Brook AL employer relationships to help students obtain employment or apprenticeships upon graduation.
Up-to-date Equipment and Facilities. After you have decreased your selection of welding programs to 2 or 3 options, you should consider going to the campuses to evaluate their facilities. Confirm that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be taught on are up-to-date. In particular, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be working with on the job. If you are not sure what to look for, and are currently in an apprenticeship program, consult with the master welder you are working under for guidance. If not, ask a local Mountain Brook AL welding professional if they can give you a few pointers.
School Location. Even though we previously briefly discussed the importance of location, there are a couple of additional points that we should cover. You should keep in mind that unless you can move, the welder school you pick must be within driving 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 the case for welding degree programs offered by community colleges. Also, if the school offers a job placement or apprenticeship program, more than likely their placements are within the school's regional community. So the location of the school needs to be in a region or state where you subsequently will want to work.
Smaller Classes. Personalized training is important for a manual trade such as welding. It's possible to get lost in larger classes and not receive much personalized instruction. Find out what the average class size is for the welding schools you are looking at. Inquire if you can attend a few 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. Also, speak with some of the trainers and find out what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they have earned.
Flexible Class Schedules. Lots of folks learn a new trade while still employed at their present job. Check to see that the class schedules for the schools you are reviewing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Mountain Brook AL, make certain that the schools you are reviewing provide those options. If you can only enroll part-time, verify that the school you choose offers part-time enrollment. Also, check to see what the protocol is to make up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Find the Right Mountain Brook Welding Course for Certification
Selecting the right welding school will probably be the most important decision you will make to start your new trade. As we have covered in this article, there are a number of things that you will need to assess and compare between the programs you are reviewing. It's a necessity that any welding training that you are evaluating 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 instruction needs to provide a real-world perspective, and the training program should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Courses 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 different possibilities for certification as well. Perhaps The ideal approach to research your short list of schools is to go to each campus and speak with the students and instructors. Take the time to sit in on a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the program you select is the right one for you. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, the final result will be a new trade as a professional welder in Mountain Brook AL.