How to Select the Right Welding Degree Program near Oxford Alabama
Locating the right welding trade school near Oxford AL is an important first step to starting your new career as a professional welder. But since there are so many schools to pick from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more significantly, once you have narrowed down your options, how do you pick the best one? Most prospective students begin by looking at the schools that are nearest to their residences. Once they have located those that are within driving distance, they gravitate toward the least costly one. Yes, location and tuition cost are important issues when evaluating welding trade schools, but they are not the only ones. Other considerations 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 delve into our due diligence checklist, let's cover a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welder Degree and Certificate Training Classes
There are a number of options to get training as a welder in a trade or technical school. You can obtain 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 made available along with an apprenticeship program. Below are short summaries of the most typical welding programs available in the Oxford AL area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are usually made available by trade and technical schools and require about one year to complete. They are more hands-on training in scope, created primarily 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 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 providing the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
Many municipalities and states do have licensing prerequisites for welders, so be sure to find out for your location of future employment. If required, the welding school you choose should prepare you for any licensing examinations that you will have to take in addition to supplying the suitable training to become a professional welder.
Welding Certification Options
There are several organizations that offer welder certifications, which evaluate the knowledge and skill level of those applying. Many Oxford AL employers not only require a degree or certificate from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a renowned agency such as the American Welding Society (AWS). A wide range of certifications are offered based upon the kind 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 specific metal thicknesses
- Work with various kinds of welds
- Work based on contract specifications
As previously mentioned, some states, cities or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those requiring licensing, some additionally require certification for different types of work. Certification is also a means to prove to employers that you are an exceptionally skilled and knowledgeable welder. So similarly as with licensing, check the requirements for your local area and verify that the welder vocational school you decide on readies you for certification as needed.
Questions to Ask Welding Trade Programs
When you have decided on the credential you would like to attain, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can begin to assess schools. As you probably know, there are many welder trade and vocational schools in the Oxford AL area. That's why it's necessary to determine in advance what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have previously covered a couple of important ones that many people look at first, which are location and tuition cost. As stated, although they are essential qualifications, they are not the only ones that must be considered. After all, the program you decide on is going to provide the education that will be the foundation of your new career as a welder. So following are more factors you might want to evaluate before selecting a welding technical school.
Accreditation. It's extremely important that the welding vocational school you pick is accredited by either a national or a regional agency. There are two basic types of accreditation. The school may earn Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on an individual program the school has, for instance Welding Technology. So confirm that the program you choose is accredited, not just the school itself. 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). In addition to helping ensure that you get a superior education, the accreditation can also assist in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not offered in Oxford AL for schools that are not accredited. Finally, for those states or local governments that mandate licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited also.
Apprenticeship and Job Assistance Programs. Many welder degree or certificate programs are provided combined with an apprenticeship program. Other schools will help place 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 placement program. The schools must have relationships with local unions and other metal working businesses to which they can place their students. Older schools may have a more substantial network of graduates that they can rely upon for referrals. These programs can help students find employment and establish relationships within the Oxford AL welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that start an instructional program and finish it. It's crucial that the welding school you pick has a high completion rate. A lower rate might signify that the students who were in the program were dissatisfied with the training, the teachers, or the facilities, and dropped out. 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 an excellent reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of Oxford AL contacts to help students obtain employment or apprenticeships after graduation.
Up-to-date Facilities and Equipment. After you have decreased your choice of welder programs to 2 or 3 possibilities, you should consider visiting the campuses to evaluate their facilities. Confirm that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be trained 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, consult with the master welder you are working under for guidance. Otherwise, ask a local Oxford AL welding professional if they can give you a few tips.
School Location. Even though we already briefly talked about the significance of location, there are a couple of additional points that we need to address. You should remember that unless you are able to relocate, the welder program you choose needs to be within driving distance of your Oxford AL home. If you do choose to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to moving expenses there could 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 provides an apprenticeship or job placement program, more than likely their placements are within the school's local community. So the location of the school needs to be in a region or state where you ultimately will want to work.
Small Classes. Individualized training is important for a manual trade such as welding. It's easy to be overlooked in bigger classes and not obtain much personalized training. Find out what the average class size is for the welding schools you are looking at. Inquire if you can attend a couple of classes so that you can witness just how much personal attention the students are receiving. While there, talk with several of the students and get their feedback. Similarly, talk with a few of the trainers and ask what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they hold.
Convenient Class Schedules. Many people learn a new profession while still employed at their current job. Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are reviewing are convenient enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Oxford AL, make certain that the schools you are assessing provide those choices. If you can only attend part-time, confirm that the school you decide on 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.
Choose the Best Oxford Welding Training for Certification
Picking the right welding school will undoubtedly be the most important decision you will make to begin your new trade. As we have addressed in this article, there are a number of things that you will need to assess and compare between the schools you are considering. It's a must that any welding training program that you are examining includes a lot of hands-on training. Classes should be small in size and every student should have their own welding machine to train with. Classroom teaching needs to offer a real-world perspective, and the training program should be current and in-line with industry standards. Courses differ in duration and the type of credential provided, so you will have to ascertain what length of program and degree or certificate will best satisfy your needs. Each training program provides different options for certification also. Probably The ideal means to research your final list of schools is to visit each campus and speak with the students and instructors. Take the time to sit in on some classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the program you decide on is the best one for you. With the right training, hard work and dedication, the end result will be a new career as a professional welder in Oxford AL.