How to Find the Best Welder Technical School near Opelika Alabama
Selecting the ideal welder school near Opelika AL is an important first step to launching your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are numerous schools to choose from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more notably, once you have fine tuned your alternatives, how do you pick the best one? Most people begin by reviewing the schools that are nearest to their residences. When they have identified those that are within commuting distance, they are drawn toward the least costly one. Yes, location and tuition cost are necessary considerations when evaluating welder technical 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 wise to establish a list of qualifications that your chosen school must have. But before we examine our due diligence checklist, let's cover a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welding Degree and Certificate Training Classes
There are multiple alternatives available to get training as a welder in a technical or trade school. You can earn a diploma, a certificate or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are available in Welding Technology or Welding Engineering, but are more advanced programs than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available combined with an apprenticeship program. Following are brief explanations of the most prevalent welding programs offered in the Opelika AL area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are usually offered by trade and technical schools and take about one year to complete. They are more hands-on training in scope, designed largely to develop welding skills. They can provide a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or supplemental skills for experienced welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take 2 years to finish and are most often offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology provides a more extensive education than the diploma or certificate while still providing the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
A number of states and municipalities do have licensing prerequisites for welders, so make sure to find out for your location of future employment. If required, the welding school you pick should prepare you for any licensing examinations that you will need to pass in addition to providing the appropriate training to become a professional welder.
Welder Certification Alternatives
There are various institutions that provide welder certifications, which assess the knowledge and skill level of those applying. Numerous Opelika AL employers not only expect a degree or certificate from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a highly regarded agency such as the American Welding Society (AWS). A wide range of certifications are available dependent on the type of work that the welder does. Just 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 based on contract specifications
As already stated, some states, cities or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those calling for licensing, some additionally require certification for different kinds of work. Certification is also a means to demonstrate to employers that you are an exceptionally skilled and knowledgeable welder. So just as with licensing, check the requirements for your location and confirm that the welding trade school you decide on prepares you for certification as needed.
Subjects to Ask Welder Trade Programs
After you have chosen the credential you want to attain, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can begin to compare schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are many welder trade and vocational schools in the Opelika AL area. That's why it's necessary to establish up front what qualifications your chosen school must have. We have previously discussed a couple of important ones that most people look at first, which are location and tuition cost. As stated, although they are essential qualifiers, they are not the only ones that need to be looked at. After all, the program you choose is going to furnish the instruction that will be the foundation of your new career as a welder. So following are more factors you may need to consider before picking a welding technical school.
Accreditation. It's extremely important that the welder technical school you choose is accredited by either a national or a regional agency. There are 2 basic kinds of accreditation. The school may attain Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a specific program the school has, for example Welding Technology. So make certain that the program you select is accredited, not just the school alone. Additionally, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, like the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping make sure that you obtain an excellent education, the accreditation can also help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not available in Opelika AL for non-accredited schools. Also, for those states or municipalities that mandate licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited also.
Apprenticeship and Job Placement Programs. Numerous welding diploma or degree programs are offered combined with an apprenticeship program. Various other schools will help place 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 placement program. The schools must have relationships with local unions and various metal working businesses to which they can refer their students. Older schools may have a larger network of graduates that they can rely upon for placements. These programs can assist students in finding employment and establish associations within the Opelika AL welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that begin an academic program and complete it. It's important that the welding school you select has a higher completion rate. A low rate could indicate that the students who joined the program were dissatisfied with the instruction, the teachers, or the facilities, and quit. The job placement rate is also a good indicator of the quality of training. A high job placement rate will not only verify that the school has an excellent reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of Opelika AL employer relationships to assist students secure apprenticeships or employment upon graduation.
Up-to-date Facilities and Equipment. After you have limited your selection of welding programs to 2 or 3 options, you should consider going to the campuses to evaluate their facilities. Verify that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be instructed on are up-to-date. In particular, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be using 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. Otherwise, ask a local Opelika AL welding contractor if they can give you some tips.
School Location. Although we already briefly talked about the importance of location, there are a couple of additional issues that we need to address. You should keep in mind that unless you are able to relocate, the welder school you select must be within commuting distance of your Opelika AL home. If you do decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there might 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 offers an apprenticeship or job placement program, more than likely their placements are within the school's regional community. So the location of the school needs to be in an area or state where you ultimately will desire to work.
Small Classes. Personalized instruction is important for a manual trade such as welding. It's easy to be overlooked in larger classes and not receive much personalized training. Find out what the typical class size is for the welding programs you are reviewing. Ask if you can attend some classes so that you can witness just how much personal attention the students are receiving. While there, talk with some of the students and get their feedback. Also, talk with some of the teachers and find out what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they hold.
Convenient Class Schedules. Lots of folks learn a new trade while still working at their present job. Confirm that the class schedules for the schools you are reviewing are flexible enough to satisfy your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Opelika AL, make certain that the schools you are assessing offer those options. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you choose offers part-time enrollment. Also, check to see what the policy is to make up classes if you you miss any due to illness, work or family circumstances.
Choose the Right Opelika Welding School for Certification
Selecting the best welder training program will undoubtedly be the most important decision you will make to launch your new career. As we have discussed in this article, there are several factors that you will need to evaluate and compare between the programs you are looking at. It's a necessity that any welder school that you are evaluating includes a considerable amount of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be small in size and every student should have their personal welding machine to train with. Classroom instruction should provide a real-world context, and the curriculum should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Training programs differ in duration and the type of credential provided, so you will need to decide what length of program and credential will best fulfill your needs. Each training program provides different possibilities for certification also. Perhaps The ideal approach to research your short list of schools is to check out each campus and talk with the teachers and students. Invest some time to monitor some classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the program you choose is the right one for you. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, the final result will be a new career as a professional welder in Opelika AL.