How to Select the Best Welding Vocational School near Opp Alabama
Locating the ideal welding trade school near Opp AL is an essential first step to starting your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are a lot of schools to pick from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more importantly, once you have fine tuned your alternatives, how do you pick the right one? Many prospective students start by looking at the schools that are nearest to their residences. When they have located those that are within commuting distance, they gravitate toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are necessary concerns when examining welding technical schools, but they are not the only ones. Other concerns 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 prudent to create a list of qualifications that your selected school must have. But before we examine our due diligence checklist, let's talk a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welding Certificate and Degree Programs
There are multiple options to receive training as a welder in a trade or technical school. You can earn a diploma, a certificate or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are offered in Welding Engineering or Welding Technology, but are more advanced degrees than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Following are brief summaries of the most common welding programs available in the Opp AL area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are normally made available by technical and trade schools and require about one year to complete. They are more hands-on training in scope, created largely to develop welding skills. They can furnish a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or additional skills for working welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take 2 years to finish and are usually offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology offers a more well-rounded education than the certificate or diploma while still providing the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
Some municipalities and states do have licensing prerequisites for welders, therefore make sure to find out for your location of potential employment. As required, the welding school you pick should prepare you for any licensing examinations that you will need to pass in addition to providing the suitable training to become a qualified welder.
Welding Certification Options
There are a number of organizations that offer welding certifications, which evaluate the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Many Opp AL employers not only expect a degree or certificate from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a respected agency such as the American Welding Society (AWS). A variety of certifications are offered dependent on the type of work that the welder does. 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 certain types of welds
- Work according to contract specifications
As earlier stated, many cities, states or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those calling for licensing, some also require certification for different types of work. Certification is also a means to demonstrate to employers that you are a highly skilled and qualified welder. So just as with licensing, look into the requirements for your location and make sure that the welding vocational school you select preps you for certification if needed.
What to Ask Welder Trade Schools
After you have chosen the credential you want to attain, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can start to evaluate schools. As you probably know, there are many welder trade and technical schools in the Opp AL area. That's why it's essential to establish up front what qualifications your chosen school must have. We have previously discussed two important ones that most people look at first, which are location and tuition cost. As mentioned, although they are very important qualifications, they are not the only ones that should be looked at. After all, the program you pick is going to furnish the instruction that will be the foundation of your new career as a welder. So below are more factors you might need to consider before choosing a welding trade school.
Accreditation. It's very important that the welding technical school you decide on is accredited by either a regional or a national agency. There are two basic 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 offers, for instance Welding Technology. So confirm that the program you choose is accredited, not just the school alone. Additionally, 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). Besides helping ensure that you obtain an excellent education, the accreditation might also help in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently not offered in Opp 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 as well.
Apprenticeship and Job Placement Programs. A large number of welder diploma or degree programs are offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Some other schools will help place you in a job or an apprenticeship after graduation. Ask if the schools you are considering help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. The schools should have associations with local unions and various metal working businesses to which they can refer their students. More established 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 Opp AL welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that start an instructional program and finish it. It's crucial that the welding school you choose has a higher completion rate. A reduced rate may signify that the students who enrolled in 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 a good reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of Opp AL contacts to help students secure apprenticeships or employment after graduation.
Up-to-date Equipment and Facilities. Once you have limited your selection of welding programs to 2 or 3 options, you should consider going to the campuses to inspect their facilities. Confirm 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 unsure what to look for, and are already in an apprenticeship program, consult with the master welder you are working under for guidance. Otherwise, ask a local Opp AL welding contractor if they can give you a few pointers.
School Location. Even though we previously briefly discussed the significance of location, there are a couple of additional issues that we need to deal with. You should keep in mind that unless you can relocate, the welding school you choose needs to be within driving distance of your Opp AL home. If you do decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides relocation expenses there might be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly the case for welder degree programs offered by community colleges. Additionally, if the school offers a job placement or apprenticeship 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 subsequently will desire to work.
Smaller Classes. Personalized instruction is essential for a manual trade such as welding. It's easy to get lost in bigger classes and not receive much individualized instruction. Find out what the average class size is for the welder programs you are considering. Ask if you can sit in on some classes so that you can see how much individual attention the students are receiving. While there, talk with several of the students and get their opinions. Also, chat with a couple of the instructors and ask what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they hold.
Convenient Class Schedules. Lots of folks learn a new profession while still working at their current job. Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are considering are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Opp AL, verify that the schools you are considering provide those options. If you can only attend part-time, make certain that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the protocol is to make up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family emergencies.
Find the Right Opp Welding Course for Certification
Selecting the ideal welder training program will undoubtedly be the most important decision you will make to start your new profession. As we have discussed in this article, there are many factors that you will need to evaluate and compare between the programs you are considering. It's a necessity that any welding training that you are examining includes a considerable amount of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be smaller in size and every student should have their personal welding machine to train with. Classroom education should offer a real-world context, and the course of study should be current and in-line with industry standards. Training programs differ in length and the kind of credential provided, so you will have to determine what length of program and certificate or degree will best serve your needs. Each program offers different options for certification as well. Perhaps the best means to research your final list of schools is to visit each campus and talk with the students and faculty. Take the time to sit in on a few classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the training program you choose is the best one for you. With the proper training, effort and commitment, the final result will be a new occupation as a professional welder in Opp AL.