How to Enroll In the Best Welder Certification Program near Opelika Alabama
Locating the ideal welding vocational school near Opelika AL is an essential first step to starting your new career as a professional welder. But since there are numerous schools to select from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more notably, once you have narrowed down your alternatives, how do you pick the right one? Many people start by checking out the schools that are closest to their residences. Once they have located those that are within commuting distance, they are drawn toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and tuition cost are important issues when reviewing welding trade schools, but they are not the only ones. Other factors include such things as reputation, accreditation and job placement rates. So before starting your search for a vocational school to become a welder, it's sensible to develop a list of qualifications that your chosen 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 Classes
There are multiple options available to receive training as a welder in a trade or vocational school. You can obtain a diploma, a certificate or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are available in Welding Engineering or Welding Technology, but are more advanced degrees than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also offered combined with an apprenticeship program. Following are brief explanations of the most typical welding programs available in the Opelika AL area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are generally offered by trade and technical schools and take about one year to finish. They are more hands-on training in nature, created mainly 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 complete and are most often offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology offers a more extensive education than the certificate or diploma while still supplying the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
A number of municipalities and states do have licensing prerequisites for welders, therefore don't forget to check for your location of future employment. As required, the welder school you choose should ready you for any licensing examinations that you will have to pass in addition to supplying the proper training to become a qualified welder.
Welding Certification Alternatives
There are several organizations that provide welder certifications, which evaluate the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Many Opelika AL employers not only demand a degree or certificate from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a renowned organization like the American Welding Society (AWS). A variety of certifications are available based on the type of work that the welder performs. Just some of the skills that certification can acknowledge are the welder's ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with certain metal thicknesses
- Work with various types of welds
- Operate according to contract specifications
As formerly stated, various cities, states or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those requiring licensing, some additionally require certification for various kinds of work. Certification is also a way to demonstrate to employers that you are an extremely skilled and qualified welder. So just as with licensing, check the requirements for your location and make sure that the welding vocational school you choose preps you for certification if needed.
What to Ask Welding Trade Programs
Once you have chosen the credential you would like to attain, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can begin to evaluate schools. As you can imagine, there are many welding trade and vocational schools in the Opelika AL area. That's why it's important to establish in advance what qualifications your chosen school must have. We have already covered two significant ones that many people look at first, which are location and tuition cost. As stated, although they are very important qualifiers, they are not the only ones that must be considered. After all, the school you select is going to provide the training that will be the foundation of your new profession as a welder. So following are some additional factors you may want to evaluate before selecting a welder trade school.
Accreditation. It's essential that the welding tech school you decide on is accredited by either a regional or a national organization. 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 has, for example Welding Technology. So verify that the program you select is accredited, not just the school alone. Also, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, like the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping ensure that you obtain a quality education, the accreditation can also assist in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases not offered in Opelika 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 also.
Apprenticeship and Job Assistance Programs. A large number of welding degree or certificate programs are provided in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Some other schools will assist in placing you in an apprenticeship or a job upon graduation. Find out if the schools you are considering help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. The schools should have partnerships with local unions and other metal working businesses to which they can refer their students. Older schools may have a larger network of graduates that they can utilize for referrals. These programs can assist students in finding employment and develop associations within the Opelika AL welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that start an educational program and complete it. It's essential that the welder program you pick has a higher completion rate. A reduced rate may mean that the students who enrolled in the program were dissatisfied with the training, the instructors, or the facilities, and quit. The job placement rate is also an indication of the quality of training. A higher job placement rate will not only confirm that the program has a good reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of Opelika AL contacts to help students obtain employment or apprenticeships after graduation.
Modern Facilities and Equipment. After you have limited your choice of welder schools to 2 or 3 possibilities, you should think out visiting the campuses to evaluate their facilities. Verify that both the equipment and the facilities 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 not sure 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 Opelika AL welding professional if they can give you a few suggestions.
School Location. Although we previously briefly covered the importance of location, there are a couple of additional issues that we should address. You should bear in mind that unless you have the ability to relocate, the welder program you choose needs to be within commuting distance of your Opelika AL home. If you do choose to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there may be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly the case for welding diploma programs offered by community colleges. Additionally, if the school provides a job placement or apprenticeship program, often their placements are within the school's regional community. So the location of the school should be in a region or state where you ultimately will desire to work.
Smaller Classes. One-on-one instruction is important for a manual trade such as welding. It's easy to be overlooked in larger classes and not obtain much one-on-one training. Find out what the typical class size is for the welder programs you are looking at. Inquire if you can sit in on some classes so that you can see just how much individual attention the students are getting. While there, talk with a few of the students and get their opinions. Also, chat with a few of the instructors and find out what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they hold.
Convenient Class Scheduling. Some people learn a new trade while still employed at their current job. Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are convenient enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Opelika AL, make certain that the schools you are considering offer those options. If you can only enroll part-time, verify that the school you pick offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the protocol is to make up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family circumstances.
Find the Right Opelika Welding Program for Certification
Picking the ideal welding school will probably be the most important decision you will make to begin your new trade. As we have covered in this article, there are a number of things that you will need to assess and compare between the programs you are considering. It's a must that any welder training that you are assessing includes a considerable amount of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be small in size and each student should have their own welding machine to train with. Classroom education should provide a real-world frame of reference, and the course of study should be current and in-line with industry standards. Training programs vary in length and the kind of credential provided, so you will have to ascertain what length of program and certificate or degree will best fulfill your needs. Every training program provides unique options for certification also. Probably the best approach to research your short list of schools is to visit each campus and talk with the faculty and students. Invest some time to attend some classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the training program you pick is the right one for you. With the proper training, effort and commitment, the final result will be a new career as a professional welder in Opelika AL.