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How to Pick the Right Welding Training Classes near Opelika Alabama

Opelika Alabama construction welder on the jobSelecting the ideal welding vocational school near Opelika AL is an essential first step to beginning your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are so many schools to select from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more significantly, once you have fine tuned your options, how do you select the best one? A number of prospective students begin by reviewing the schools that are nearest to their homes. When they have identified those that are within driving distance, they gravitate toward the least costly one. Yes, location and tuition cost are crucial concerns 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 initiating your search for a trade school to become a welder, it's prudent to establish a list of qualifications that your selected school must have. But before we explore our due diligence checklist, let's cover a little bit about how to become a welder.

Welder Degree and Certificate Training Programs

Opelika Alabama welder working in fabrication shop

There are a number of options to obtain training as a welder in a technical or trade 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 programs than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Following are brief summaries of the most prevalent welding programs available in the Opelika AL area.

  • Diploma and Certificate Programs are generally made available by trade and technical schools and take about one year to complete. They are more hands-on training in scope, fashioned primarily to develop welding skills. They can provide a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or specialized skills for experienced welders.
  • Associate Degree Programs will take two years to finish and are most often offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology furnishes a more extensive education than the diploma or certificate while still furnishing the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.

Some states and municipalities do have licensing prerequisites for welders, so be sure to find out for your location of potential employment. As needed, the welder school you choose should prepare you for any licensing examinations that you will have to pass in addition to providing the suitable training to become a qualified welder.

Welder Certification Options

Opelika Alabama welder welding metal table

There are various institutions that offer welding certifications, which evaluate the skill level and knowledge of those applying. A large number of Opelika AL employers not only demand a degree or certificate from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a respected agency such as the American Welding Society (AWS). Different certifications are available dependent on the type of work that the welder performs. Just some of the things that certification can acknowledge are the welder's ability to

  • Operate in compliance with specific codes
  • Work with certain metal thicknesses
  • Work with specific types of welds
  • Work according to contract specifications

As formerly mentioned, various states, cities or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those requiring licensing, many also require certification for different kinds of work. Certification is also a way to prove to employers that you are an exceptionally skilled and experienced welder. So just as with licensing, check the requirements for your local area and confirm that the welder technical school you decide on preps you for certification as needed.

Questions to Ask Welding Vocational Schools

Opelika Alabama electrician welding electrical pole

Once you have chosen the credential you would like to obtain, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can start to evaluate schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are a large number of welding vocational and trade schools in the Opelika AL area. That's why it's important to determine up front what qualifications your selected school must have. We have previously discussed a couple of significant ones that many people consider first, which are location and tuition cost. As stated, although they are very important qualifications, they are not the only ones that need to be looked at. After all, the school you select is going to provide the education that will be the foundation of your new vocation as a welder. So following are more factors you might need to consider before selecting a welding vocational school.

Accreditation. It's extremely important that the welding technical school you select is accredited by either a national or a regional agency. There are two basic kinds of accreditation. The school may attain Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a single program the school offers, such as Welding Technology. So confirm that the program you pick is accredited, not just the school itself. Also, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, such as the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). In addition to helping ensure that you receive a quality education, the accreditation can also help in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable in Opelika AL for non-accredited schools. Finally, for those states or local governments that require licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited also.

Apprenticeship and Job Assistance Programs. Many welder certificate or degree programs are offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Various other schools will assist in placing you in a job or an apprenticeship upon graduation. Ask if the schools you are looking at help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. The 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 assist students in finding employment and develop relationships within the Opelika AL welding community.

Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that begin an instructional program and complete it. It's essential that the welder school you choose has a high completion rate. A reduced rate could signify that the students who enrolled in the program were unhappy with the instruction, the instructors, or the facilities, and quit. The job placement rate is also an indication of the quality of training. A high job placement rate will not only confirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the trade, but additionally that it has the network of Opelika AL contacts to help students obtain apprenticeships or employment upon graduation.

Modern Facilities and Equipment. Once you have narrowed down your choice of welder programs to 2 or 3 options, you should consider visiting the campuses to look over their facilities. Make sure that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be instructed on are up-to-date. Specifically, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be working with on the job. If you are uncertain what to look for, and are already in an apprenticeship program, consult with the master welder you are working under for guidance. If not, ask a local Opelika AL welding professional if they can give you some tips.

School Location. Even though we previously briefly covered the importance of location, there are a couple of additional points that we need to cover. You should keep in mind that unless you can relocate, the welding program you select must be within driving distance of your Opelika AL home. If you do opt to attend an out-of-state school, besides moving costs there might be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially the case for welder 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 local community. So the location of the school needs to be in an area or state where you ultimately will desire to work.

Small Classes. Individualized instruction is essential for a manual trade such as welding. It's possible to be lost in bigger classes and not obtain much personalized training. Ask what the usual class size is for the welder programs you are considering. Ask if you can sit in on a couple of classes so that you can observe just how much individual attention the students are receiving. While there, talk with a few of the students and get their feedback. Also, talk with 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. Lots of folks learn a new profession while still working at their current 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 in the evenings or on weekends near Opelika AL, confirm that the schools you are considering 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 if you you miss any due to work, sickness or family circumstances.

Find out More About Opelika Welder Vocational Schools

Choose the Best Opelika Welding Training for Certification

Choosing the ideal welding training program will probably be the most important decision you will make to launch your new career. As we have covered in this article, there are several things that you will need to evaluate and compare among the schools you are considering. It's a prerequisite that any welding training program that you are examining includes a considerable amount of hands-on training. Classes need to be smaller in size and every student should have their personal welding machine to train with. Classroom instruction needs to offer a real-world context, and the training program should be current and conform with industry standards. Courses vary in duration and the type of credential provided, so you will need to ascertain what length of program and credential will best fulfill your needs. Every program offers unique possibilities for certification as well. Perhaps The ideal means to research your final list of schools is to go to each campus and speak with the faculty and students. Take the time to sit in on some classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the training program you select is the best one for you. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, the final result will be a new occupation as a professional welder in Opelika AL.

 

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