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How to Choose the Right Welding Training Classes near Oxford Alabama

Oxford Alabama construction welder at work siteChoosing the right welding technical school near Oxford AL is an essential first step to launching 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 significantly, once you have fine tuned your options, how do you select the best one? A number of people start by reviewing the schools that are closest to their homes. When they have found those that are within commuting distance, they gravitate toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and tuition cost are important issues when examining welder vocational schools, but they are not the only ones. Other concerns include such things as reputation, accreditation and job placement rates. So before beginning your search for a trade school to become a welder, it's sensible to develop 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 Degree and Certificate Training Courses

Oxford Alabama welder working in metal shop

There are several options to receive training as a welder in a trade or vocational 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 in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Following are short summaries of the most typical welding programs offered in the Oxford AL area.

  • Certificate and Diploma Programs are usually offered by trade and technical schools and require about one year to finish. 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 specialized skills for working welders.
  • Associate Degree Programs will take two years to finish and are most often 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 prepares students to enter the workforce.

Many municipalities and states do have licensing prerequisites for welders, therefore don't forget to find out for your location of future employment. As needed, the welding school you select should prep you for any licensing exams that you will have to take in addition to supplying the suitable training to become a professional welder.

Welder Certification Choices

Oxford Alabama welder welding metal frame

There are multiple institutions that provide 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 program, but also certification from a respected agency like the American Welding Society (AWS). A wide range of certifications are available dependent on the type of work that the welder does. Some of the skills that certification can acknowledge are the welder's ability to

  • Operate in compliance with specific codes
  • Work with specified metal thicknesses
  • Work with certain types of welds
  • Operate based on contract specifications

As already stated, some cities, states or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those mandating licensing, some also require certification for different types of work. Certification is also a way to demonstrate to employers that you are an extremely skilled and experienced welder. So just as with licensing, look into the requirements for your local area and confirm that the welder technical school you select readies you for certification as needed.

Questions to Ask Welding Technical Programs

Oxford Alabama welder welding electrical beam

Once you have decided on the credential you want to attain, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can start to assess schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are many welder vocational and trade schools in the Oxford AL area. That's why it's essential to determine in advance what qualifications your chosen school must have. We have already covered a couple of important ones that many people look at first, which are location and tuition cost. As mentioned, although they are essential qualifications, they are not the only ones that should be looked at. After all, the school you decide on is going to furnish the training that will be the foundation of your new career as a welder. So below are some additional factors you might need to consider before selecting a welding technical school.

Accreditation. It's extremely important that the welder vocational school you select is accredited by either a regional or a national agency. There are two standard kinds of accreditation. The school may receive Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on an individual program the school offers, such as Welding Technology. So verify that the program you select 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). In addition to helping make sure that you get a superior education, the accreditation might also help in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases not available in Oxford AL for non-accredited schools. Finally, for those states or local governments that require licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited as well.

Apprenticeship and Job Assistance Programs. Numerous welder degree or diploma programs are offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Various other schools will assist in placing 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 placement program. These schools should have associations 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 placements. These programs can help students find employment and develop associations 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 complete it. It's essential that the welder program you choose has a higher completion rate. A low rate may signify that the students who joined the program were dissatisfied with the training, the instructors, or the facilities, and quit. The job placement rate is also an indication of the caliber of training. A high job placement rate will not only confirm that the program has an excellent reputation within the trade, but additionally that it has the network of Oxford AL employer relationships to help students secure apprenticeships or employment upon graduation.

Modern Equipment and Facilities. After you have narrowed down your choice of welder programs to two or three options, you should think out going to the campuses to look over their facilities. Verify that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be taught on are up-to-date. Specifically, the training equipment should be comparable to what you will be working with 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. If not, ask a local Oxford AL welding professional if they can give you a few suggestions.

School Location. Even though we already briefly talked about the importance of location, there are a couple of additional points that we should address. You should keep in mind that unless you have the ability to move, the welder program you choose must be within commuting distance of your Oxford AL home. If you do choose to enroll in an out-of-state school, apart from relocation expenses there may be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly true for welding diploma programs offered by community colleges. Furthermore, if the school offers a job placement or apprenticeship program, most likely their placements are within the school's regional community. So the location of the school should be in an area or state where you subsequently will desire to work.

Smaller Classes. Personalized training is essential for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's easy to be overlooked in larger classes and not get much one-on-one training. Ask what the usual class size is for the welding schools you are considering. Inquire if you can attend a couple of classes so that you can see how much personal attention the students are receiving. While there, talk with several of the students and get their evaluations. Also, talk to a few of the instructors and ask what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they hold.

Convenient Class Schedules. Many people learn a new trade while still employed at their current job. Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are looking at are convenient enough to meet your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Oxford AL, confirm that the schools you are reviewing offer those alternatives. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the policy is to make up classes should you miss any due to illness, work or family circumstances.

Learn More About Oxford Welder Training Programs

Find the Best Oxford Welding Course for Certification

Picking the ideal welding school will probably be the most critical decision you will make to begin your new trade. As we have discussed in this article, there are many things that you will need to examine and compare between the programs you are reviewing. It's a necessity that any welding training that you are examining includes a considerable amount of hands-on training. Classes need to be smaller in size and each student should have their own welding machine to train with. Classroom education should offer a real-world perspective, and the curriculum should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Training programs vary in length and the kind of credential offered, so you will need to decide what length of program and degree or certificate will best satisfy your needs. Every training program provides different options for certification as well. Perhaps the best means to research your short list of schools is to check out each campus and talk with the students and instructors. Invest some time to sit in on some classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the school you select is the right one for you. With the right training, effort and commitment, the end result will be a new occupation as a professional welder in Oxford AL.

 

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