How to Enroll In the Best Welding Technical School near Opelika Alabama
Locating the right welder trade school near Opelika AL is an essential first step to launching your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are a lot of schools to choose from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more significantly, once you have fine tuned your choices, how do you select the best one? Most people start by reviewing the schools that are nearest to their homes. Once they have identified those that are within commuting distance, they gravitate toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and tuition cost are important concerns when evaluating welding technical schools, but they are not the only ones. Other concerns include such things as accreditation, reputation and job placement rates. So before beginning your search for a vocational school to become a welder, it's wise to develop 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.
Welding Degree and Certificate Training Courses
There are multiple alternatives available to obtain 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 available in Welding Technology or Welding Engineering, but are more advanced programs than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Following are brief descriptions of the most typical welding programs available in the Opelika AL area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are usually offered by technical and trade schools and take about one year to finish. They are more hands-on training in nature, fashioned primarily to teach welding skills. They can furnish a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or specialized skills for working welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take two years to finish and are usually offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology offers a more extensive education than the certificate or diploma while still furnishing the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
Many municipalities and states do have licensing requirements for welders, so be sure to check for your location of future employment. If needed, the welding school you select should ready you for any licensing examinations that you will have to pass in addition to supplying the appropriate training to become a qualified welder.
Welding Certification Options
There are a number of institutions that provide welding certifications, which evaluate the knowledge and skill level of those applying. Numerous Opelika AL employers not only demand a certificate or degree from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a highly regarded agency such as the American Welding Society (AWS). A variety of certifications are offered based on the type of work that the welder performs. A few of the things that certification can attest to are the welder's ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specific metal thicknesses
- Work with specific kinds of welds
- Perform according to contract specifications
As formerly mentioned, various states, cities or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those calling for licensing, some additionally require certification for various kinds of work. Certification is also a means 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 verify that the welding technical school you decide on readies you for certification if needed.
Topics to Ask Welder Vocational Schools
When you have decided on the credential you want to earn, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can begin to compare schools. As you probably know, there are a large number of welding trade and vocational schools in the Opelika AL area. That's why it's necessary to determine up front what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have previously covered a couple of significant ones that most people look at first, which are location and tuition cost. As mentioned, although they are essential qualifiers, they are not the only ones that must be considered. After all, the school you decide on is going to furnish the training that will be the foundation of your new profession as a welder. So following are some additional factors you may need to evaluate before choosing a welder technical school.
Accreditation. It's extremely important that the welding tech school you decide on is accredited by either a regional or a national organization. There are 2 standard types of accreditation. The school may attain Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on an individual program the school has, for example Welding Technology. So make certain that the program you choose is accredited, not just the school itself. Also, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, like the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping ensure that you get a quality education, the accreditation might also assist in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are often unavailable in Opelika AL for schools that are not accredited. Also, for those states or local governments that require licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited also.
Job Assistance and Apprenticeship Programs. Many welder diploma or degree programs are provided combined with an apprenticeship program. Various other schools will help place you in an apprenticeship or a job after graduation. Ask if the schools you are reviewing help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. The schools must have partnerships 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 utilize for placements. These programs can help students find employment and establish associations within the Opelika AL welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that start an instructional program and complete it. It's essential that the welding program you choose has a higher completion rate. A reduced rate may signify that the students who were in the program were unhappy with the instruction, the teachers, 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 affirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of Opelika AL employer relationships to assist students obtain employment or apprenticeships upon graduation.
Modern Equipment and Facilities. After you have limited your selection of welder programs to 2 or 3 possibilities, you should think out going to the campuses to inspect their facilities. Make sure that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be taught on are up-to-date. In particular, the training equipment should be comparable to what you will be working with in the field. If you are not sure 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 contractor if they can give you some suggestions.
School Location. Even though we previously briefly talked about the significance of location, there are a few additional points that we should cover. You should remember that unless you are able to move, the welder program you pick needs to be within driving distance of your Opelika AL home. If you do decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides 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. Also, if the school provides an apprenticeship or job placement 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 wish to work.
Small Classes. One-on-one training is important for a manual trade such as welding. It's easy to be lost in larger classes and not receive much personalized training. Ask what the usual class size is for the welder programs you are considering. Inquire if you can sit in on a few classes so that you can witness how much personal attention the students are getting. While there, speak with a few of the students and get their feedback. Similarly, speak with some of the teachers and find out what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they hold.
Convenient Class Schedules. Many people learn a new profession while still working at their present job. Check to see that the class schedules for the programs you are considering are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Opelika AL, make sure that the schools you are reviewing provide those choices. If you can only enroll part-time, make sure that the school you pick offers part-time enrollment. Also, check to see what the policy is to make up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Opelika Welding Course for Certification
Picking the right welding training program will undoubtedly be the most critical decision you will make to begin your new career. As we have addressed in this article, there are a number of things that you will need to evaluate and compare between the programs you are reviewing. It's a prerequisite that any welder training program that you are considering includes a lot of hands-on training. Classes need to be small in size and each student should have their own welding machine to train with. Classroom education needs to provide a real-world perspective, and the curriculum should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Courses vary in length and the kind of credential offered, so you will need to determine what length of program and credential will best satisfy your needs. Each program provides different options for certification also. Probably The ideal means to research your final list of schools is to go to each campus and speak with the teachers and students. Invest some time to sit in on some classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the program you choose is the ideal one for you. With the proper training, hard work and dedication, the final outcome will be a new trade as a professional welder in Opelika AL.