How to Enroll In the Right Welding Certification Program near Northport Alabama
Choosing the ideal welding school near Northport AL is an important first step to starting your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are a lot of schools to pick from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more importantly, once you have fine tuned your options, how do you pick the best one? Many people start by reviewing the schools that are closest to their homes. Once they have found those that are within driving distance, they gravitate toward the least costly one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are important concerns when evaluating welding vocational schools, but they are not the only ones. Other considerations 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 wise to create a list of qualifications that your chosen 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 Programs
There are multiple options available to obtain 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 courses than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available combined with an apprenticeship program. Below are short descriptions of the most typical welding programs offered in the Northport AL area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are normally made available 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 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 usually offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology provides a more well-rounded education than the certificate or diploma while still supplying the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
Some municipalities and states do have licensing requirements for welders, therefore make sure to find out for your location of future employment. If needed, the welder school you select should prepare you for any licensing examinations that you will have to pass in addition to furnishing the suitable training to become a qualified welder.
Welding Certification Choices
There are various organizations that provide welder certifications, which assess the knowledge and skill level of those applying. A large number of Northport AL employers not only demand a certificate or degree from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a renowned agency such as the American Welding Society (AWS). A wide range of certifications are available based on the type of work that the welder performs. Some of the skills that certification can acknowledge are the welder's ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specific metal thicknesses
- Work with specific kinds of welds
- Perform in compliance with contract specifications
As already stated, many cities, states or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those mandating licensing, a number also require certification for various kinds of work. Certification is also a means to prove to employers that you are a highly skilled and experienced welder. So just as with licensing, check the requirements for your location and confirm that the welding trade school you select preps you for certification if needed.
Topics to Ask Welder Trade Schools
When you have chosen the credential you would like to attain, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can begin to assess schools. As you probably know, there are a large number of welder trade and vocational schools in the Northport AL area. That's why it's necessary to decide in advance what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have already covered 2 important ones that most people look at 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 pick is going to furnish the instruction that will be the foundation of your new vocation as a welder. So below are more factors you may need to evaluate before choosing a welding vocational school.
Accreditation. It's extremely important that the welding trade school you pick is accredited by either a regional or a national organization. There are 2 basic 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 has, for example Welding Technology. So verify 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 agency, like the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping ensure that you obtain an excellent education, the accreditation can also assist in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are often not offered in Northport AL for schools that are not accredited. Also, for those states or local governments that mandate licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited also.
Apprenticeship and Job Placement Programs. A large number of welder degree or diploma programs are offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Other schools will help place you in an apprenticeship or a job upon graduation. Find out if the schools you are looking at assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. These schools must have relationships 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 utilize for referrals. These programs can help students find employment and establish associations within the Northport AL welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that begin an instructional program and finish it. It's crucial that the welder school you choose has a higher completion rate. A low rate may mean 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 caliber of training. A high job placement rate will not only affirm that the program has an excellent reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of Northport AL employer relationships to help students obtain employment or apprenticeships upon graduation.
Up-to-date Equipment and Facilities. After you have narrowed down your choice of welding programs to two or three possibilities, you should think out visiting the campuses to evaluate their facilities. Make sure that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be taught on are up-to-date. Specifically, the training equipment should be comparable to what you will be using in the field. 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 Northport AL welding contractor if they can give you some tips.
School Location. Even though we previously briefly covered the importance of location, there are a few additional points that we should deal with. You should keep in mind that unless you have the ability to move, the welder school you select needs to be within commuting distance of your Northport AL home. If you do choose to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there might be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially true for welding certificate programs offered by community colleges. Additionally, if the school offers an apprenticeship or job placement program, most likely their placements are within the school's regional community. So the location of the school should be in a region or state where you subsequently will desire to work.
Smaller Classes. Individualized instruction is essential for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's easy to get lost in larger classes and not receive much individualized training. Ask what the typical class size is for the welder schools you are considering. Ask if you can sit in on some classes so that you can witness how much individual attention the students are receiving. While there, speak with several of the students and get their feedback. Similarly, chat with some of the trainers and find out what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they have earned.
Convenient Class Schedules. Lots of folks learn a new profession while still employed at their present job. Make sure that the class schedules for the schools you are reviewing are convenient enough to meet your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Northport AL, confirm that the schools you are reviewing provide those alternatives. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you pick offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the policy is to make up classes if you you miss any because of work, sickness or family emergencies.
Find the Right Northport Welding School for Certification
Choosing the right welding school will probably be the most important decision you will make to begin your new career. As we have discussed in this article, there are many things that you will need to examine and compare among the programs you are looking at. It's a must that any welder school that you are assessing includes a lot of hands-on training. Classes should be small in size and every student should have their personal welding machine to train on. Classroom teaching needs to offer a real-world perspective, and the training program should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Programs vary in length and the type of credential offered, so you will need to determine what length of program and certificate or degree will best serve your needs. Each program provides unique possibilities for certification also. Perhaps The ideal approach to research your short list of schools is to check out each campus and speak with the teachers and students. Take the time to monitor a few classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the school you decide on is the best one for you. With the right training, effort and dedication, the final result will be a new trade as a professional welder in Northport AL.