How to Choose the Right Welder Certification Classes near Muscle Shoals Alabama
Finding the ideal welding school near Muscle Shoals AL is an important first step to starting your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are numerous schools to pick from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more importantly, once you have narrowed down your options, how do you pick the best one? Most prospective students start by checking out the schools that are closest to their residences. Once they have located those that are within driving distance, they are drawn toward the least costly one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are crucial issues when evaluating welding vocational schools, but they are not the only ones. Other concerns include such things as accreditation, reputation and job placement rates. So before starting your search for a trade school to become a welder, it's prudent to establish a list of qualifications that your selected school must have. But before we examine our due diligence checklist, let's talk a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welder Degree and Certificate Training Courses
There are several options available to get training as a welder in a trade or vocational 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 programs than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available combined with an apprenticeship program. Following are brief explanations of the most common welding programs offered in the Muscle Shoals AL area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are usually made available by technical and trade schools and take about a year to complete. They are more hands-on training in scope, fashioned primarily to teach welding skills. They can furnish a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or supplemental skills for working 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 certificate or diploma while still providing the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
Some municipalities and states do have licensing prerequisites for welders, therefore be sure to find out for your location of potential employment. As required, the welding school you select should ready you for any licensing exams that you will need to take in addition to furnishing the suitable training to become a qualified welder.
Welding Certification Choices
There are multiple organizations that provide welding certifications, which assess the knowledge and skill level of those applying. Many Muscle Shoals AL employers not only expect a certificate or degree from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a respected organization like the American Welding Society (AWS). A wide range of certifications are available dependent on the kind of work that the welder performs. Some of the skills that certification can acknowledge are the welder's ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specified metal thicknesses
- Work with specific kinds of welds
- Work in compliance with contract specifications
As previously stated, various states, cities or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those mandating licensing, a number also require certification for different kinds of work. Certification is also a way to prove to employers that you are a highly skilled and experienced welder. So similarly as with licensing, check the requirements for your location and make sure that the welding technical school you decide on readies you for certification as needed.
Subjects to Ask Welding Tech Schools
When you have chosen the credential you would like to obtain, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can begin to assess schools. As you can imagine, there are numerous welder trade and technical schools in the Muscle Shoals AL area. That's why it's necessary to decide in advance what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have previously discussed a couple of significant ones that most 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 need to be considered. After all, the program you choose is going to provide the training that will be the foundation of your new career as a welder. So following are some additional factors you may need to consider before picking a welding tech school.
Accreditation. It's essential that the welding vocational school you decide on is accredited by either a regional or a national agency. There are two standard types of accreditation. The school may receive Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a specific program the school offers, for example Welding Technology. So make certain that the program you pick is accredited, not just the school itself. Additionally, 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). Besides helping make sure that you receive a quality education, the accreditation can also help in securing financial aid or student loans, which are often not offered in Muscle Shoals 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.
Job Placement and Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous welding degree or diploma programs are provided combined with an apprenticeship program. Various other schools will help place you in an apprenticeship or a job after graduation. Find out if the schools you are reviewing assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. These schools must have associations with local unions and various metal working businesses to which they can place their students. Older schools may have a more substantial network of graduates that they can rely upon for placements. These programs can assist students in finding employment and establish relationships 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 educational program and finish it. It's important that the welding school you pick has a high completion rate. A low rate may indicate that the students who enrolled in the program were dissatisfied with the instruction, the teachers, 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 verify that the program has a good reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of Muscle Shoals AL employer relationships to assist students obtain apprenticeships or employment upon graduation.
Modern Facilities and Equipment. Once you have decreased your choice of welding programs to 2 or 3 options, you should think out going to the campuses to inspect their facilities. Verify that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be trained on are up-to-date. Specifically, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be using in the field. If you are uncertain what to look for, and are already in an apprenticeship program, ask the master welder you are working under for guidance. If not, ask a local Muscle Shoals AL welding professional if they can give you some suggestions.
School Location. Although we already briefly covered the relevance of location, there are a few additional points that we should deal with. You should keep in mind that unless you are able to move, the welder program you pick must be within driving distance of your Muscle Shoals AL home. If you do opt to attend an out-of-state school, besides moving costs there might be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially the case for welding certificate programs offered by community colleges. Additionally, if the school offers a job placement or apprenticeship program, most 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 ultimately will desire to work.
Smaller Classes. Personalized instruction is essential for a manual trade such as welding. It's easy to get lost in larger classes and not get much personalized instruction. Find out what the typical class size is for the welder schools you are looking at. Ask if you can sit in on some classes so that you can see how much individual attention the students are receiving. While there, speak with several of the students and get their feedback. Similarly, talk to a few of the teachers and find out what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they have earned.
Flexible Class Scheduling. Lots of folks learn a new trade while still working at their present job. Check to see that the class schedules for the schools you are reviewing are convenient enough to satisfy your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Muscle Shoals AL, make sure 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, find out what the protocol is to make up classes if you you miss any because of work, sickness or family responsibilities.
Find the Best Muscle Shoals Welding Training for Certification
Picking the right welder 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 many factors that you will need to examine and compare between the schools you are considering. It's a must that any welding training that you are examining includes a lot of hands-on training. Classes need to be small in size and each student must have their own welding machine to train on. Classroom instruction should offer a real-world context, and the curriculum should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Courses vary in length and the kind of credential provided, so you will need to determine what length of program and certificate or degree will best serve your needs. Each training program provides unique options for certification also. Probably the best way to research your short list of schools is to visit each campus and talk with the students and instructors. Invest some time to attend a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the program you select is the best one for you. With the proper training, effort and commitment, the final result will be a new career as a professional welder in Muscle Shoals AL.