How to Choose the Right Welding Training Program near Muscle Shoals Alabama
Selecting the ideal welding school near Muscle Shoals AL is an important first step to launching your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are a lot of 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 right one? Many prospective students start by looking at the schools that are nearest to their residences. Once they have found those that are within commuting distance, they gravitate toward the least expensive one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are important considerations when reviewing welding trade schools, but they are not the only ones. Other factors 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 wise to develop a list of qualifications that your chosen school must have. But before we examine our due diligence checklist, let's cover a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welder Certificate and Degree Programs
There are a number of alternatives available to get training as a welder in a trade or vocational school. You can earn a a certificate, a diploma or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are offered in Welding Technology or Welding Engineering, but are more advanced programs than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Below are brief summaries of the most typical welding programs offered in the Muscle Shoals AL area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are normally offered by technical and trade schools and take about 1 year to finish. They are more hands-on training in nature, designed mainly to develop welding skills. They can provide a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or additional skills for working welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take 2 years to complete and are usually offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology provides a more well-rounded education than the diploma or certificate while still furnishing the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
Many municipalities and states do have licensing requirements for welders, therefore don't forget to find out for your location of potential employment. As required, the welder school you pick should prepare you for any licensing exams that you will have to pass in addition to supplying the proper training to become a professional welder.
Welding Certification Options
There are various institutions that offer welding certifications, which evaluate the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Many Muscle Shoals AL employers not only expect a degree or certificate from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a renowned agency such as the American Welding Society (AWS). A variety of certifications are available based upon the kind of work that the welder does. A few of the skills that certification can acknowledge are the welder's ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specific metal thicknesses
- Work with certain types of welds
- Perform according to contract specifications
As formerly mentioned, many cities, states or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those requiring licensing, a number additionally require certification for different kinds of work. Certification is also a means to demonstrate to employers that you are an exceptionally skilled and qualified welder. So just as with licensing, look into the requirements for your local area and verify that the welder vocational school you decide on readies you for certification as needed.
What to Ask Welder Tech Programs
When you have decided on the credential you would like to earn, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can start to assess schools. As you probably know, there are a large number of welder trade and technical schools in the Muscle Shoals AL area. That's why it's essential to decide in advance what qualifications your selected school must have. We have previously discussed a couple of significant ones that many 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 should be considered. After all, the program you select is going to provide the instruction 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 technical school.
Accreditation. It's very important that the welder tech school you choose is accredited by either a national or a regional agency. There are 2 standard kinds of accreditation. The school may receive Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a single program the school offers, for example Welding Technology. So verify that the program you select is accredited, not just the school alone. Additionally, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, for example the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping make sure that you receive an excellent education, the accreditation may also help in getting financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not available in Muscle Shoals AL for non-accredited schools. Finally, for those states or local governments that mandate licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited also.
Job Placement and Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of welding degree or certificate programs are offered combined with an apprenticeship program. Other schools will help place you in an apprenticeship or a job upon graduation. Ask if the schools you are considering assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. These schools should have relationships with local unions and various metal working businesses to which they can place their students. Older schools may have a larger network of graduates that they can rely upon for placements. These programs can assist students in finding employment and develop associations within the Muscle Shoals AL welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that enroll in an instructional program and complete it. It's important that the welder school you choose has a high completion rate. A low rate could signify that the students who were in the program were dissatisfied with the training, the teachers, or the facilities, and quit. The job placement rate is also a good indicator of the caliber of training. A high job placement rate will not only verify that the program has a good reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of Muscle Shoals AL employer relationships to assist students secure employment or apprenticeships after graduation.
Up-to-date Equipment and Facilities. After you have limited your choice of welder schools to 2 or 3 possibilities, you should think out visiting the campuses to inspect their facilities. Verify that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are modern. In particular, the training equipment should be similar 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 Muscle Shoals AL welding contractor if they can give you a few tips.
School Location. Although we previously briefly discussed the significance of location, there are a few additional issues that we need to deal with. You should remember that unless you can relocate, the welding program you pick needs to be within commuting distance of your Muscle Shoals AL home. If you do decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, apart from relocation expenses there may be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly true for welding certificate programs offered by community colleges. Also, if the school provides a job placement or apprenticeship program, most likely their placements are within the school's local community. So the location of the school should be in a region or state where you subsequently will want to work.
Small Classes. One-on-one instruction is important for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's possible to get lost in bigger classes and not obtain much individualized instruction. Ask what the typical class size is for the welding programs you are reviewing. Inquire if you can sit in on some classes so that you can witness just how much individual attention the students are getting. While there, talk with several of the students and get their opinions. Similarly, talk to some of the teachers and ask what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they hold.
Convenient Class Scheduling. Many people learn a new trade while still employed at their present job. Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are considering are convenient enough to meet your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Muscle Shoals AL, make certain that the schools you are looking at offer those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you pick offers part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the protocol is to make up classes if you you miss any because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Choose the Right Muscle Shoals Welding Training for Certification
Choosing the ideal welding school will undoubtedly be the most important decision you will make to start your new career. As we have addressed in this article, there are several things that you will need to examine and compare among the schools you are considering. It's a necessity that any welder training that you are considering includes a considerable amount of hands-on training. Classes should be small in size and each student must have their personal welding machine to train with. Classroom education needs to offer a real-world context, and the training program should be current and in-line with industry standards. Training programs differ in duration and the kind of credential offered, so you will have to ascertain what length of program and credential will best fulfill your needs. Every training program provides different options for certification also. Perhaps the best approach to research your final list of schools is to check out each campus and talk with the faculty and students. Take the time to sit in on some classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the training program you choose is the right one for you. With the right training, hard work and dedication, the final outcome will be a new occupation as a professional welder in Muscle Shoals AL.