How to Enroll In the Right Welding Certification Classes near Oxford Alabama
Selecting the ideal welder technical school near Oxford AL is an important first step to starting your new career as a professional welder. But since there are a lot of schools to select from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more notably, once you have narrowed down your alternatives, how do you pick the right one? Most prospective students begin by looking at the schools that are closest to their homes. When they have found those that are within driving distance, they gravitate toward the least expensive one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are necessary concerns when reviewing welder trade 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 establish a list of qualifications that your selected school must have. But before we examine our due diligence checklist, let's cover a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welding Degree and Certificate Training Courses
There are a number of options available to obtain training as a welder in a trade or technical school. You can earn a a certificate, a diploma or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are available in Welding Technology or Welding Engineering, but are more advanced degrees than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Below are short descriptions of the most common welding programs offered in the Oxford AL area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are usually offered by technical and trade schools and take about one year to complete. They are more hands-on training in scope, fashioned primarily to develop welding skills. They can provide a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or additional 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 furnishes a more extensive education than the diploma or certificate while still supplying the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
Many municipalities and states do have licensing requirements for welders, so don't forget to find out for your location of future employment. If needed, the welder school you select should prep you for any licensing exams that you will have to take in addition to supplying the proper training to become a professional welder.
Welder Certification Alternatives
There are various institutions that offer welder certifications, which assess the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Many Oxford AL employers not only require 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 based on the kind of work that the welder does. Some of the things that certification can acknowledge are the welder's ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with certain metal thicknesses
- Work with various types of welds
- Work according to contract specifications
As earlier mentioned, many cities, states or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those requiring licensing, some additionally require certification for various types of work. Certification is also a means to prove to employers that you are an exceptionally skilled and qualified welder. So just as with licensing, check the requirements for your location and verify that the welder technical school you decide on readies you for certification if needed.
Points to Ask Welding Trade Programs
As soon as you have decided on the credential you would like to attain, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can start to evaluate schools. As you can imagine, there are a large number of welder trade and technical schools in the Oxford AL area. That's why it's important to determine in advance what qualifications your selected school must have. We have already discussed a couple of significant ones that many people look at first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As mentioned, although they are very important qualifiers, they are not the only ones that should be considered. After all, the program you decide on is going to provide the instruction that will be the foundation of your new career as a welder. So below are some additional factors you may need to consider before choosing a welding technical school.
Accreditation. It's extremely important that the welder vocational school you choose is accredited by either a national or a regional agency. There are 2 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 has, such as Welding Technology. So confirm that the program you pick is accredited, not just the school alone. Also, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, like the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping make sure that you obtain a superior education, the accreditation can also assist in obtaining 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 mandate licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited also.
Apprenticeship and Job Assistance Programs. Numerous welder degree or certificate programs are provided combined 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 reviewing help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. The schools should have partnerships 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 utilize for placements. 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 enroll in an educational program and finish it. It's crucial that the welding program you pick has a higher completion rate. A reduced rate could signify that the students who enrolled 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 caliber of training. A higher job placement rate will not only affirm that the school has a good reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of Oxford AL employer relationships to assist students obtain employment or apprenticeships after graduation.
Modern Facilities and Equipment. Once you have decreased your choice of welding schools to two or three possibilities, you should consider visiting the campuses to look over their facilities. Verify that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be taught on are modern. Specifically, the training equipment should be comparable to what you will be using on the job. 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. Otherwise, ask a local Oxford AL welding professional if they can give you some pointers.
School Location. Although we previously briefly covered the importance of location, there are a few additional points that we need to address. You should bear in mind that unless you have the ability to relocate, the welding program you select must be within commuting distance of your Oxford AL home. If you do decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides moving expenses there might be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially the case for welding degree programs offered by community colleges. Additionally, if the school provides 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 a region or state where you ultimately will wish to work.
Small Classes. One-on-one instruction is important for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's possible to get lost in larger classes and not receive much individualized training. Ask what the usual class size is for the welding programs you are looking at. Inquire if you can attend a few classes so that you can experience just how much personal attention the students are receiving. While there, speak with several of the students and get their feedback. Also, talk to a few of the instructors and ask what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they have earned.
Convenient Class Scheduling. Many people learn a new trade while still working at their present job. Confirm that the class schedules for the schools you are looking at are convenient enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Oxford AL, confirm that the schools you are considering provide those choices. If you can only attend part-time, confirm that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the policy is to make up classes if you you miss any because of illness, work or family responsibilities.
Choose the Right Oxford Welding Course for Certification
Selecting the ideal welder training program will undoubtedly be the most important decision you will make to launch your new profession. As we have discussed in this article, there are many things that you will need to assess and compare among the schools you are considering. It's a necessity that any welder school that you are assessing includes a lot of hands-on training. Classes need to be small in size and every student must have their own welding machine to train on. Classroom education should offer a real-world context, and the training program should be current and in-line with industry standards. Programs differ in length and the type of credential offered, so you will have to determine what length of program and credential will best fulfill your needs. Each program offers unique options for certification also. Probably the best means to research your final list of schools is to check out each campus and speak with the faculty and students. Invest some time to monitor some classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the program you choose is the best one for you. With the right training, hard work and commitment, the end result will be a new trade as a professional welder in Oxford AL.