How to Enroll In the Right Welding Certificate Program near Muscle Shoals Alabama
Finding the ideal welder technical school near Muscle Shoals AL is an important first step to starting your new career as a professional welder. But since there are a lot of schools to pick from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more notably, once you have fine tuned your options, how do you pick the right one? Many people begin by checking out the schools that are closest to their residences. When they have found those that are within driving distance, they gravitate toward the least expensive one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are crucial considerations when examining welding trade schools, but they are not the only ones. Other factors include such things as reputation, accreditation and job placement rates. So before initiating your search for a trade school to become a welder, it's prudent to develop a list of qualifications that your chosen school must have. But before we delve into our due diligence checklist, let's talk a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welding Certificate and Degree Training
There are multiple options to obtain 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 Technology or Welding Engineering, but are more advanced courses than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available along with an apprenticeship program. Following are short explanations of the most common welding programs offered in the Muscle Shoals AL area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are usually made available by technical and trade schools and require 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 specialized 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 extensive education than the certificate or diploma while still providing the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
A number of municipalities and states do have licensing prerequisites for welders, therefore make sure to find out for your location of potential employment. As needed, the welding school you choose should ready you for any licensing exams that you will have to take in addition to supplying the appropriate training to become a professional welder.
Welding Certification Alternatives
There are multiple organizations that provide welder certifications, which test the skill level and knowledge of those applying. A large number of Muscle Shoals AL employers not only expect a certificate or degree from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a highly regarded organization such as the American Welding Society (AWS). A wide range of certifications are offered dependent on the type of work that the welder does. Some of the skills that certification can attest to are the welder's ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specified metal thicknesses
- Work with various kinds of welds
- Perform in compliance with contract specifications
As formerly mentioned, many cities, states or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those mandating licensing, many also require certification for different types of work. Certification is also a way to demonstrate to employers that you are an exceptionally skilled and qualified welder. So similarly as with licensing, look into the requirements for your local area and verify that the welding tech school you choose prepares you for certification if needed.
Topics to Ask Welding Vocational Schools
After you have chosen the credential you would like to obtain, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can begin to evaluate schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are a large number of welding trade and technical schools in the Muscle Shoals AL area. That's why it's important to determine in advance what qualifications your chosen school must have. We have already covered 2 important ones that many people consider first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As stated, although they are very important qualifiers, they are not the only ones that need to be considered. After all, the school you pick is going to provide the instruction that will be the foundation of your new career as a welder. So below are some additional factors you may need to consider before selecting a welder technical school.
Accreditation. It's very important that the welding vocational school you pick is accredited by either a regional or a national organization. There are two basic kinds of accreditation. The school may attain Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on an individual program the school offers, for instance Welding Technology. So verify that the program you choose is accredited, not just the school itself. Additionally, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, for example the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping make sure that you obtain a superior education, the accreditation may also assist in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases not available in Muscle Shoals AL for schools that are not accredited. Finally, for those states or municipalities that require licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited also.
Job Assistance and Apprenticeship Programs. Many welding degree or diploma programs are provided in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Other schools will assist in placing you in a job or an apprenticeship upon graduation. Find out if the schools you are considering help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. The schools should have partnerships with local unions and other 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 placements. These programs can help students find 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 start an academic program and finish it. It's important that the welder school you choose has a high completion rate. A reduced rate might indicate that the students who were in the program were dissatisfied with the instruction, the teachers, or the facilities, and dropped out. The job placement rate is also a good indicator of the caliber of training. A high job placement rate will not only affirm that the program has a good reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of Muscle Shoals AL employer relationships to help students secure employment or apprenticeships after graduation.
Modern Equipment and Facilities. Once you have decreased your choice of welding schools to two or three options, you should think out going to the campuses to look over 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 comparable to what you will be using on the job. 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 a few pointers.
School Location. Even though we previously briefly discussed the significance of location, there are a few additional issues that we need to deal with. You should bear in mind that unless you can relocate, the welding school you choose must be within driving distance of your Muscle Shoals AL home. If you do opt to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there may be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly true for welder degree programs offered by community colleges. Additionally, if the school provides an apprenticeship or job placement program, more than likely their placements are within the school's regional community. So the location of the school should be in an area or state where you subsequently will want to work.
Smaller Classes. Personalized training is important for a manual trade such as welding. It's easy to get lost in bigger classes and not receive much individualized training. Ask what the usual class size is for the welder programs you are considering. Inquire if you can sit in on a couple of classes so that you can witness how much individual attention the students are getting. While there, talk with some of the students and get their feedback. Also, talk to a few of the instructors and find out what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they have earned.
Convenient Class Schedules. Lots of folks learn a new profession while still working at their present job. Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are considering are convenient enough to satisfy your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Muscle Shoals AL, confirm that the schools you are assessing provide those choices. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the school you decide on offers part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the protocol is to make up classes should you miss any due to illness, work or family responsibilities.
Find the Best Muscle Shoals Welding Course for Certification
Selecting the ideal welding school will probably be the most critical decision you will make to begin your new trade. As we have addressed in this article, there are many things that you will need to assess and compare between the programs you are looking at. It's a prerequisite that any welding school that you are evaluating includes a lot of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be smaller in size and every student should have their own welding machine to train on. Classroom teaching needs to offer a real-world perspective, and the course of study should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Courses vary in duration and the kind of credential offered, so you will need to decide what length of program and credential will best serve your needs. Every program offers different possibilities for certification as well. Perhaps The ideal means to research your final list of schools is to visit each campus and speak with the faculty and students. Take the time to monitor a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the program you pick is the best one for you. With the right training, effort and commitment, the end outcome will be a new trade as a professional welder in Muscle Shoals AL.