How to Pick the Best Welding Certification Classes near Northport Alabama
Enrolling in the ideal welding technical school near Northport AL is an essential 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 notably, once you have fine tuned your choices, how do you select the best one? Most prospective students start by looking at the schools that are closest to their residences. Once they have found those that are within commuting distance, they are drawn toward the least expensive one. Yes, location and tuition cost are important considerations when evaluating welder technical schools, but they are not the only ones. Other considerations include such things as accreditation, reputation and job placement rates. So before beginning your search for a trade school to become a welder, it's prudent to create a list of qualifications that your selected school must have. But before we delve into our due diligence checklist, let's cover a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welding Certificate and Degree Training Programs
There are a number of options available to receive training as a welder in a technical or trade school. You can obtain a a certificate, a diploma 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 offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Below are brief summaries of the most common welding programs offered in the Northport AL area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are normally offered by trade and technical schools and require about 1 year to finish. They are more hands-on training in scope, created largely to teach 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 furnishes a more extensive education than the certificate or diploma while still providing the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
Some states and municipalities do have licensing prerequisites for welders, therefore be sure to check for your location of future employment. If needed, the welding school you choose should prep you for any licensing examinations that you will have to take in addition to providing the proper training to become a qualified welder.
Welding Certification Alternatives
There are a number of institutions that offer welding certifications, which test the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Numerous Northport AL employers not only expect a certificate or degree from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a respected organization such as the American Welding Society (AWS). A wide range of certifications are available based upon the type of work that the welder does. A few of the things that certification can acknowledge are the welder's ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specific metal thicknesses
- Work with certain kinds of welds
- Work according to contract specifications
As formerly mentioned, various cities, states or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those calling for licensing, a number also require certification for various types of work. Certification is also a way to prove to employers that you are an extremely skilled and knowledgeable welder. So similarly as with licensing, check the requirements for your local area and verify that the welder trade school you decide on readies you for certification as needed.
Questions to Ask Welding Vocational Programs
As soon as you have decided on the credential you would like to obtain, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can begin to evaluate schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are many welder vocational and trade schools in the Northport AL area. That's why it's important to establish in advance what qualifications your chosen school must have. We have already covered 2 significant ones that most people consider first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As stated, although they are very important qualifications, they are not the only ones that must be looked at. After all, the school you pick is going to furnish the education that will be the foundation of your new career as a welder. So below are more factors you may want to evaluate before picking a welding vocational school.
Accreditation. It's very important that the welder trade school you decide on is accredited by either a national or a regional organization. There are 2 standard types of accreditation. The school may earn Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a specific program the school has, such as Welding Technology. So make certain that the program you select is accredited, not just the school itself. Also, 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 a quality education, the accreditation might also assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases not available in Northport AL for schools that are not accredited. Finally, for those states or municipalities that mandate licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited also.
Job Placement and Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of welder diploma or degree programs are provided in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Other schools will help place you in a job or an apprenticeship upon graduation. Find out 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. More established 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 academic program and finish it. It's important that the welder school you choose has a higher completion rate. A low rate might indicate that the students who were in the program were unhappy with the training, the teachers, 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 school has an excellent reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of Northport AL contacts to assist students secure employment or apprenticeships upon graduation.
Modern Equipment and Facilities. Once you have decreased your choice of welder programs to two or three possibilities, you should think out visiting the campuses to look over their facilities. Confirm that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be taught on are modern. In particular, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be using on the job. If you are unsure 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 Northport AL welding contractor if they can give you some tips.
School Location. Even though we previously briefly discussed the importance of location, there are a couple of additional points that we should address. You should keep in mind that unless you have the ability to relocate, the welding program you select must be within driving distance of your Northport AL home. If you do opt to attend an out-of-state school, apart from relocation 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. Also, if the school provides an apprenticeship or job placement program, more than likely their placements are within the school's local community. So the location of the school needs to be in an area or state where you ultimately will wish to work.
Small Classes. One-on-one instruction is essential for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's easy to get lost in larger classes and not get much one-on-one instruction. Ask what the typical class size is for the welding programs you are considering. Ask if you can attend a couple of classes so that you can experience just how much individual attention the students are receiving. While there, talk with several of the students and get their feedback. Also, talk to a few of the trainers and find out what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they have earned.
Convenient Class Schedules. Some people learn a new trade while still employed at their current job. Check to see that the class schedules for the programs you are considering are flexible enough to satisfy your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Northport AL, make certain that the schools you are reviewing provide those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, 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 circumstances.
Choose the Best Northport Welding Program for Certification
Choosing the right welder school will probably be the most critical decision you will make to begin your new trade. As we have covered in this article, there are several things that you will need to assess and compare between the programs you are considering. It's a necessity that any welding school that you are evaluating includes a good deal of hands-on training. Classes need to be small in size and each student must have their personal welding machine to train on. Classroom teaching should provide a real-world perspective, and the course of study should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Training programs vary in length and the kind of credential provided, so you will need to ascertain what length of program and certificate or degree will best serve your needs. Each program offers different possibilities for certification as well. Probably the best way to research your short list of schools is to go to each campus and talk with the teachers and students. Invest some time to sit in on some classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the program you choose is the best one for you. With the proper training, effort and dedication, the end result will be a new trade as a professional welder in Northport AL.