How to Choose the Right Welder Vocational School near Mountain Brook Alabama
Choosing the ideal welding school near Mountain Brook AL is an important first step to launching your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are a lot of schools to choose from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more notably, once you have fine tuned your options, how do you pick the right one? A number of prospective students begin by reviewing the schools that are nearest to their residences. Once they have identified those that are within commuting distance, they gravitate toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are necessary concerns when examining welding technical 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 vocational school to become a welder, it's prudent to create a list of qualifications that your selected school must have. But before we explore our due diligence checklist, let's talk a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welding Certificate and Degree Training Classes
There are a number of options to get training as a welder in a trade or technical school. You can obtain 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 offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Following are brief explanations of the most typical welding programs available in the Mountain Brook AL area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are usually made available by trade and technical schools and require about one year to complete. They are more hands-on training in scope, designed primarily to develop welding skills. They can provide 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 usually offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology offers a more extensive 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, so don't forget to check for your location of future employment. As needed, the welding school you select should ready you for any licensing exams that you will have to pass in addition to supplying the suitable training to become a professional welder.
Welder Certification Options
There are a number of organizations that provide welding certifications, which assess the knowledge and skill level of those applying. A large number of Mountain Brook AL employers not only demand a degree or certificate from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a respected agency such as the American Welding Society (AWS). A variety of certifications are offered based on the kind of work that the welder does. 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 specific types of welds
- Operate in compliance with contract specifications
As previously mentioned, many cities, states or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those mandating licensing, some also require certification for different kinds of work. Certification is also a way to prove to employers that you are an extremely skilled and qualified welder. So just as with licensing, check the requirements for your location and make sure that the welder trade school you select preps you for certification if needed.
Topics to Ask Welder Trade Schools
Once you have chosen the credential you would like to earn, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can start to assess schools. As you can imagine, there are many welding trade and technical schools in the Mountain Brook AL area. That's why it's necessary to decide up front what qualifications your chosen school must have. We have already covered two important ones that many people look at first, which are location and tuition cost. As stated, although they are very important qualifiers, they are not the only ones that should be considered. 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 more factors you might want to consider before selecting a welding vocational school.
Accreditation. It's extremely important that the welder trade school you select is accredited by either a regional or a national agency. There are two 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 confirm that the program you choose is accredited, not just the school itself. Also, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, such as 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 may also assist in getting financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases not available in Mountain Brook AL for non-accredited schools. Also, for those states or municipalities that require licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited as well.
Apprenticeship and Job Assistance Programs. Numerous welder certificate or degree programs are offered combined with an apprenticeship program. Various other schools will help place you in an apprenticeship or a job after graduation. Ask if the schools you are reviewing help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. These 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 more substantial network of graduates that they can utilize for placements. These programs can help students find employment and develop relationships within the Mountain Brook AL welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that start an educational program and finish it. It's crucial that the welding school you choose has a high completion rate. A lower rate could indicate that the students who were in the program were dissatisfied with the training, the instructors, or the facilities, and dropped out. The job placement rate is also a good indicator of the quality of training. A high job placement rate will not only affirm that the program has an excellent reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of Mountain Brook AL contacts to assist students secure employment or apprenticeships after graduation.
Modern Facilities and Equipment. Once you have decreased your selection of welding schools to two or three options, you should think out visiting the campuses to evaluate their facilities. Verify that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are modern. Specifically, 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 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 contractor if they can give you some tips.
School Location. Even though we previously briefly covered the significance of location, there are a few additional points that we should cover. You should remember that unless you are able to move, the welding program you choose needs to be within commuting distance of your Mountain Brook AL home. If you do opt to enroll in an out-of-state school, apart from moving expenses there might 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 a job placement or apprenticeship program, often their placements are within the school's local community. So the location of the school should be in an area or state where you subsequently will wish to work.
Small Classes. Individualized instruction is important for a manual trade such as welding. It's possible to be overlooked in bigger classes and not obtain much personalized instruction. Find out what the usual class size is for the welding schools you are reviewing. Ask if you can sit in on a couple of classes so that you can see how much individual attention the students are getting. While there, talk with several of the students and get their opinions. Similarly, talk to a couple of the instructors and ask what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they have earned.
Convenient Class Scheduling. Lots of folks learn a new profession while still employed at their current job. Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are considering are flexible enough to satisfy your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Mountain Brook AL, make sure that the schools you are looking at offer those choices. If you can only attend part-time, verify that the school you choose offers part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the policy is to make up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family circumstances.
Choose the Best Mountain Brook Welding Program for Certification
Selecting the right welder school will undoubtedly be the most important decision you will make to begin your new profession. As we have covered in this article, there are many things that you will need to examine and compare among the programs you are considering. It's a necessity that any welder training program that you are considering includes a considerable amount of hands-on training. Classes need to be smaller in size and every student should have their personal welding machine to train on. Classroom education needs to offer a real-world frame of reference, and the training program should be current and conform with industry standards. Programs differ in length and the kind of credential provided, so you will have to determine what length of program and credential will best fulfill your needs. Every program offers unique possibilities for certification also. Probably the best way to research your short list of schools is to go to each campus and talk with the faculty and students. Take the time to attend a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the program you decide on is the best one for you. With the right training, effort and commitment, the final result will be a new occupation as a professional welder in Mountain Brook AL.