How to Pick the Best Welding Certification Classes near Northport Alabama
Locating the right welding trade school near Northport AL is an essential first step to beginning your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are so many schools to pick 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 checking out the schools that are closest to their homes. Once they have located those that are within driving distance, they gravitate toward the least costly one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are necessary considerations when evaluating welder vocational schools, but they are not the only ones. Other considerations 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 wise to develop 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.
Welder Certificate and Degree Programs
There are multiple options available to receive training as a welder in a trade or technical school. You can obtain a diploma, a certificate or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are offered in Welding Engineering or Welding Technology, 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 explanations of the most prevalent welding programs available in the Northport AL area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are usually made available by technical and trade schools and take about a year to finish. They are more hands-on training in scope, fashioned largely to develop welding skills. They can furnish a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or specialized skills for experienced welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take 2 years to finish 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 readies students to enter the workforce.
Some states and municipalities do have licensing requirements for welders, so make sure to check for your location of future employment. If required, the welding school you pick should ready you for any licensing examinations that you will need to pass in addition to supplying the appropriate training to become a qualified welder.
Welder Certification Options
There are multiple organizations that provide welding certifications, which assess the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Numerous Northport AL employers not only expect a certificate or degree from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a respected agency such as the American Welding Society (AWS). A wide range of certifications are offered based upon the type of work that the welder performs. Some 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 various types of welds
- Perform according to contract specifications
As earlier stated, some cities, states or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those mandating licensing, a number also require certification for various types of work. Certification is also a way to demonstrate to employers that you are an extremely skilled and experienced welder. So just as with licensing, check the requirements for your local area and make sure that the welding trade school you select prepares you for certification as needed.
What to Ask Welding Tech 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 can imagine, there are a large number of welder trade and vocational schools in the Northport AL area. That's why it's essential to establish in advance what qualifications your chosen school must have. We have previously discussed 2 important ones that most people consider first, which are location and tuition cost. As stated, although they are very important qualifiers, they are not the only ones that should be considered. After all, the program you select is going to furnish the education that will be the foundation of your new vocation as a welder. So following are more factors you may want to evaluate before picking a welding trade school.
Accreditation. It's very important that the welding tech school you decide on is accredited by either a regional or a national organization. There are two basic kinds of accreditation. The school may earn Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a specific program the school offers, for instance Welding Technology. So make sure that the program you select is accredited, not just the school itself. Additionally, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, such as the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). In addition to helping make sure that you receive a superior education, the accreditation can also assist in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are often not offered in Northport AL for schools that are not accredited. Finally, for those states or local governments that require licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited as well.
Job Assistance and Apprenticeship Programs. Many welding diploma or degree programs are offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Various other schools will assist in placing you in an apprenticeship or a job after graduation. Find out if the schools you are reviewing help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. The schools must have associations with local unions and other metal working businesses to which they can refer their students. Older schools may have a more substantial network of graduates that they can rely upon for referrals. These programs can assist students in finding employment and establish relationships within the Northport 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 essential that the welder school you choose has a high completion rate. A reduced rate could indicate 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 an indication of the quality of training. A high job placement rate will not only affirm that the school has a good reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of Northport AL employer relationships to help students obtain apprenticeships or employment upon graduation.
Up-to-date Equipment and Facilities. After you have decreased your selection of welding programs to two or three options, you should consider visiting the campuses to evaluate their facilities. Confirm that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are modern. Specifically, the training equipment should be comparable to what you will be working with in the field. 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. If not, ask a local Northport AL welding professional if they can give you a few tips.
School Location. Although we previously briefly discussed the importance of location, there are a couple of additional issues that we should cover. You should bear in mind that unless you are able to relocate, the welding program you choose needs to be within commuting distance of your Northport AL home. If you do opt to attend an out-of-state school, besides moving expenses there could be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially true for welding diploma programs offered by community colleges. Additionally, if the school offers a job placement or apprenticeship 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 subsequently will want to work.
Small Classes. Individualized training is important for a manual trade such as welding. It's possible to get overlooked in larger classes and not receive much one-on-one instruction. Find out what the usual class size is for the welding programs you are reviewing. Inquire if you can sit in on a couple of classes so that you can see how much personal attention the students are receiving. While there, talk with several of the students and get their evaluations. Also, talk with a few of the teachers and ask what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they have earned.
Flexible Class Schedules. Some people learn a new profession while still employed at their current job. Check to see that the class schedules for the schools you are looking at are convenient enough to satisfy your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Northport AL, make certain that the schools you are reviewing provide those alternatives. If you can only attend part-time, verify that the school you choose 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 circumstances.
Choose the Best Northport Welding School for Certification
Selecting the ideal welding training program will probably be the most important decision you will make to launch your new trade. As we have discussed in this article, there are many factors that you will need to examine and compare among the programs you are considering. It's a must that any welding training program that you are reviewing includes a considerable amount of hands-on training. Classes should be small in size and each student should have their personal welding machine to train on. Classroom education needs to provide a real-world frame of reference, and the training program should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Courses differ in length and the type of credential provided, so you will have to ascertain what length of program and credential will best fulfill your needs. Each program provides unique options for certification as well. Probably the best approach to research your final list of schools is to visit each campus and speak with the students and faculty. Take the time to monitor a few 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 proper training, hard work and dedication, the final result will be a new trade as a professional welder in Northport AL.