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How to Pick the Right Welder Certificate Program near Oxford Alabama

Oxford Alabama construction welder on the jobLocating the right welding school near Oxford AL is an essential first step to launching your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are a lot of schools to choose from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more importantly, once you have fine tuned your alternatives, how do you select the right one? Many prospective students start by reviewing the schools that are nearest to their residences. When they have identified those that are within commuting distance, they gravitate toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and tuition cost are important issues when reviewing welding vocational schools, but they are not the only ones. Other concerns include such things as reputation, accreditation and job placement rates. So before initiating your search for a trade school to become a welder, it's prudent to establish 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.

Welder Degree and Certificate Training

Oxford Alabama welder working in fabrication shop

There are multiple options to get training as a welder in a trade or vocational school. You can receive a diploma, a certificate 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 offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Below are short descriptions of the most prevalent welding programs offered in the Oxford AL area.

  • Diploma and Certificate Programs are generally offered by technical and trade schools and require about 1 year to complete. They are more hands-on training in nature, fashioned primarily to teach welding skills. They can furnish a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or additional skills for experienced welders.
  • Associate Degree Programs will take 2 years to complete and are most often offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology furnishes a more extensive education than the certificate or diploma while still furnishing the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.

A number of municipalities and states do have licensing requirements for welders, so make sure to find out for your location of future employment. As needed, the welding school you pick should ready you for any licensing examinations that you will have to pass in addition to providing the appropriate training to become a qualified welder.

Welding Certification Alternatives

Oxford Alabama welder welding metal table

There are several organizations that offer welding certifications, which evaluate the knowledge and skill level of those applying. Numerous Oxford AL employers not only demand a degree or certificate from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a renowned agency like the American Welding Society (AWS). Different certifications are offered based on the kind of work that the welder performs. A few of the things that certification can attest to are the welder's ability to

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

As earlier mentioned, many cities, states or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those requiring licensing, some also require certification for various kinds of work. Certification is also a means to prove to employers that you are an exceptionally skilled and knowledgeable welder. So just as with licensing, look into the requirements for your location and verify that the welding trade school you select prepares you for certification as needed.

Points to Ask Welding Vocational Programs

Oxford Alabama electrician welding electrical beam

As soon as you have decided on the credential you would like to earn, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can begin to assess schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are a large number of welder trade and vocational schools in the Oxford AL area. That's why it's essential to determine in advance what qualifications your selected school must have. We have previously covered a couple of significant ones that many people consider first, which are location and tuition cost. As stated, although they are very important qualifications, they are not the only ones that must be considered. After all, the school you decide on is going to furnish the instruction that will be the foundation of your new career as a welder. So following are more factors you might need to evaluate before picking a welding vocational school.

Accreditation. It's extremely important that the welder tech school you select is accredited by either a regional or a national agency. There are 2 standard types of accreditation. The school may attain Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a single program the school has, for example Welding Technology. So make sure that the program you choose is accredited, not just the school itself. Also, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, like the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping ensure that you get an excellent education, the accreditation may also help 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 as well.

Apprenticeship and Job Placement Programs. A large number of welder certificate or degree programs are provided in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Some other schools will assist in placing you in an apprenticeship or a job upon graduation. Ask if the schools you are considering assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. These schools should have relationships with local unions and various metal working businesses to which they can refer their students. Older schools may have a more substantial network of graduates that they can utilize for placements. These programs can assist students in finding employment and establish relationships within the Oxford AL welding community.

Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that start an instructional program and complete it. It's crucial that the welding school you pick has a higher completion rate. A low rate might signify that the students who enrolled in the program were unhappy with the instruction, the instructors, or the facilities, and dropped out. 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 program has a good reputation within the trade, but additionally that it has the network of Oxford AL employer relationships to help students obtain apprenticeships or employment after graduation.

Up-to-date Equipment and Facilities. Once you have narrowed down your selection of welder programs to two or three options, you should consider visiting the campuses to look over their facilities. Make sure that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be taught on are up-to-date. In particular, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be using in the field. 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 contractor if they can give you a few pointers.

School Location. Even though we previously briefly discussed 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 welding program you pick needs to be within commuting distance of your Oxford AL home. If you do decide to attend an out-of-state school, apart from relocation expenses there may be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially the case for welding certificate programs offered by community colleges. Furthermore, if the school provides an apprenticeship or job placement program, most likely their placements are within the school's local community. So the location of the school should be in a region or state where you subsequently will desire to work.

Small Classes. Individualized instruction is important for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's possible to get overlooked in larger classes and not get much individualized instruction. Ask what the usual class size is for the welder schools you are looking at. Ask if you can sit in on a couple of classes so that you can see how much individual attention the students are getting. While there, speak with some of the students and get their feedback. Also, chat with a few of the teachers and find out what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they hold.

Flexible Class Schedules. Lots of folks learn a new profession while still employed at their present job. Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are considering are convenient enough to meet your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Oxford AL, verify that the schools you are looking at provide those alternatives. If you can only enroll part-time, make certain that the school you choose offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the protocol is to make up classes should you miss any due to illness, work or family emergencies.

Learn More About Oxford Welder Schools

Find the Best Oxford Welding Program for Certification

Picking the best welder training program will probably be the most critical decision you will make to start your new career. As we have addressed in this article, there are a number of factors that you will need to examine and compare between the programs you are considering. It's a must that any welding school that you are assessing includes a lot of hands-on training. Classes need to be small in size and each student must have their personal welding machine to train on. Classroom education should provide a real-world frame of reference, and the training program should be current and in-line with industry standards. Courses differ in length and the type of credential offered, so you will have to ascertain what length of program and certificate or degree will best satisfy your needs. Each training program provides different possibilities for certification also. Perhaps the best approach to research your final list of schools is to go to each campus and talk with the teachers and students. Invest some time to attend some classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the program you choose is the ideal one for you. With the proper training, effort and commitment, the end outcome will be a new trade as a professional welder in Oxford AL.

 

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