How to Find the Best Welder Vocational School near Oxford Alabama
Choosing the ideal welder vocational school near Oxford AL is an essential first step to starting your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are so many schools to pick from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more notably, once you have narrowed down your options, how do you select the best one? A number of prospective students begin by checking out the schools that are closest to their homes. Once they have identified those that are within driving distance, they are drawn toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and tuition cost are important considerations when evaluating welding 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 sensible to develop a list of qualifications that your chosen school must have. But before we examine our due diligence checklist, let's talk a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welder Degree and Certificate Training Programs
There are a number of options available to receive 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 courses than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Below are brief summaries of the most prevalent welding programs offered in the Oxford AL area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are normally offered by technical and trade schools and require about a year to finish. They are more hands-on training in scope, created mainly to teach 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 usually offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology offers a more extensive education than the diploma or certificate while still providing the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
Some states and municipalities do have licensing requirements for welders, therefore make sure to find out for your location of potential employment. If needed, the welder school you pick 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 Choices
There are multiple organizations that offer welder certifications, which assess the knowledge and skill level of those applying. A large number of Oxford AL employers not only require a certificate or degree from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a highly regarded agency like the American Welding Society (AWS). A wide range of certifications are offered based upon the kind of work that the welder does. Just some of the skills that certification can attest to are the welder's ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specified metal thicknesses
- Work with various types of welds
- Operate according to contract specifications
As formerly mentioned, many states, cities or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those requiring licensing, some also require certification for various types of work. Certification is also a way to prove to employers that you are an extremely skilled and experienced welder. So similarly as with licensing, look into the requirements for your local area and confirm that the welder tech school you select readies you for certification if needed.
What to Ask Welding Trade Programs
Once you have decided on the credential you would like to earn, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can begin to assess schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are numerous welding vocational and trade schools in the Oxford AL area. That's why it's essential to establish in advance what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have previously covered a couple of important ones that most people look at first, which are location and tuition cost. As stated, although they are very important qualifiers, they are not the only ones that need to be considered. After all, the school you pick is going to provide the instruction that will be the foundation of your new career as a welder. So following are more factors you might want to consider before selecting a welder tech school.
Accreditation. It's very important that the welding vocational school you select is accredited by either a national or a regional organization. There are two basic kinds of accreditation. The school may earn 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 select is accredited, not just the school alone. Additionally, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, such as the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping make sure that you obtain an excellent education, the accreditation may also help in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently unavailable in Oxford 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 Placement and Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous welding degree or certificate programs are provided in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Some other schools will help place you in a job or an apprenticeship upon graduation. Find out if the schools you are looking at help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. These schools should have partnerships with local unions and various metal working businesses to which they can place their students. Older 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 Oxford AL welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that start an instructional program and complete it. It's essential that the welding program you select has a higher completion rate. A reduced rate may indicate that the students who were in the program were unhappy with the instruction, the instructors, or the facilities, and dropped out. The job placement rate is also an indication of the caliber of training. A higher job placement rate will not only affirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of Oxford AL employer relationships to assist students obtain apprenticeships or employment after graduation.
Modern Equipment and Facilities. Once you have decreased your choice of welding schools to two or three options, you should consider visiting the campuses to look over their facilities. Confirm that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be taught on are up-to-date. Specifically, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be working with in the field. If you are uncertain what to look for, and are currently in an apprenticeship program, consult with the master welder you are working under for guidance. If not, ask a local Oxford AL welding professional if they can give you a few tips.
School Location. Although we previously briefly talked about the relevance of location, there are a couple of additional issues that we need to deal with. You should remember that unless you are able to relocate, the welder school 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, apart from relocation expenses there might be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially the case for welding diploma programs offered by community colleges. Additionally, if the school offers a job placement or apprenticeship program, often their placements are within the school's regional community. So the location of the school needs to be in a region or state where you subsequently will wish to work.
Smaller Classes. Personalized instruction is essential for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's easy to be lost in larger classes and not receive much personalized instruction. Find out what the usual class size is for the welder schools you are looking at. Ask if you can sit in on some classes so that you can see just how much personal attention the students are receiving. While there, speak with several of the students and get their opinions. Similarly, talk to a few of the trainers and find out what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they have earned.
Flexible Class Scheduling. Lots of folks learn a new profession while still employed at their current job. Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are looking at are flexible enough to satisfy your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Oxford AL, make sure that the schools you are looking at offer those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you decide on offers part-time enrollment. Also, check to see what the protocol is to make up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family responsibilities.
Find the Right Oxford Welding School for Certification
Selecting the best welding school will undoubtedly be the most important decision you will make to begin your new career. As we have covered in this article, there are many things that you will need to assess and compare between the programs you are reviewing. It's a must that any welder training that you are evaluating includes a considerable amount of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be small in size and each student should have their personal welding machine to train with. Classroom education should provide a real-world perspective, and the training program should be current and conform with industry standards. Courses differ in length and the kind of credential provided, so you will need to decide what length of program and degree or certificate will best serve your needs. Every training program offers different possibilities for certification also. Probably The ideal approach to research your final list of schools is to check out each campus and speak with the faculty and students. Take the time to sit in on some classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the program you pick is the best one for you. With the proper training, effort and dedication, the final result will be a new career as a professional welder in Oxford AL.