How to Find the Best Welding Technical School near Ozark Alabama
Choosing the right welding vocational school near Ozark 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 significantly, once you have fine tuned your alternatives, how do you select the right one? Many prospective students start by checking out the schools that are closest to their homes. Once they have located those that are within commuting distance, they are drawn toward the least expensive one. Yes, location and tuition cost are important issues when reviewing welder technical schools, but they are not the only ones. Other considerations 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 prudent to develop 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 Certificate and Degree Training Classes
There are a number of options to receive training as a welder in a technical or trade 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 programs than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available combined with an apprenticeship program. Following are short summaries of the most common welding programs available in the Ozark AL area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are generally offered by trade and technical schools and require about a year to finish. They are more hands-on training in scope, created largely to teach welding skills. They can furnish 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 most often offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology provides a more extensive education than the certificate or diploma while still providing the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
A number of municipalities and states do have licensing prerequisites for welders, so be sure to find out for your location of future employment. If needed, the welder school you select should ready you for any licensing examinations that you will need to pass in addition to furnishing the proper training to become a professional welder.
Welding Certification Options
There are several organizations that provide welder certifications, which evaluate the skill level and knowledge of those applying. A large number of Ozark AL employers not only expect a certificate or degree from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a renowned agency like the American Welding Society (AWS). A wide range of certifications are offered dependent 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 specified metal thicknesses
- Work with certain types of welds
- Perform in compliance with contract specifications
As earlier mentioned, various states, cities or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those calling for licensing, a number also require certification for various kinds of work. Certification is also a means to demonstrate to employers that you are a highly skilled and qualified welder. So similarly as with licensing, look into the requirements for your local area and verify that the welding vocational school you select preps you for certification if needed.
Questions to Ask Welding Trade Programs
After you have chosen the credential you want to obtain, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can begin to compare schools. As you can imagine, there are numerous welder vocational and trade schools in the Ozark AL area. That's why it's important to determine up front 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 tuition cost. As stated, although they are very important qualifiers, they are not the only ones that need to be considered. After all, the program you select is going to furnish the education that will be the foundation of your new vocation as a welder. So following are some additional factors you might want to evaluate before picking a welder technical school.
Accreditation. It's extremely important that the welder technical school you choose is accredited by either a national or a regional agency. There are 2 basic kinds of accreditation. The school may earn Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a specific program the school offers, such as Welding Technology. So verify that the program you select is accredited, not just the school itself. Also, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, for example the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). In addition to helping ensure that you obtain an excellent education, the accreditation can also help in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are often not available in Ozark AL for non-accredited schools. 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. A large number of welding diploma or degree programs are provided combined with an apprenticeship program. Some other schools will help place you in a job or an apprenticeship upon graduation. Ask if the schools you are reviewing assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. These schools should have relationships with local unions and other metal working businesses to which they can place their students. More established schools may have a more substantial network of graduates that they can utilize for referrals. These programs can help students find employment and establish relationships within the Ozark AL welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that enroll in an instructional program and complete it. It's essential that the welding school you choose has a higher completion rate. A lower rate might indicate that the students who joined the program were dissatisfied with the training, the teachers, or the facilities, and quit. The job placement rate is also an indication of the quality of training. A high job placement rate will not only affirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of Ozark AL contacts to assist students obtain apprenticeships or employment upon graduation.
Up-to-date Equipment and Facilities. After you have limited your selection of welder schools to 2 or 3 options, you should think out going to the campuses to inspect their facilities. Make sure that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are modern. In particular, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be working with on the job. If you are not sure what to look for, and are already in an apprenticeship program, consult with the master welder you are working under for guidance. Otherwise, ask a local Ozark AL welding professional if they can give you some tips.
School Location. Even though we previously briefly covered the importance of location, there are a couple of additional points that we should address. You should bear in mind that unless you have the ability to relocate, the welding program you pick must be within commuting distance of your Ozark AL home. If you do choose to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides relocation costs there could be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially true for welding certificate programs offered by community colleges. Additionally, if the school offers an apprenticeship or job placement program, often their placements are within the school's regional community. So the location of the school should be in a region or state where you subsequently will want to work.
Small Classes. Individualized training is important for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's easy to get overlooked in bigger classes and not receive much one-on-one instruction. Find out what the usual class size is for the welding programs you are considering. Ask if you can attend some classes so that you can see just how much personal attention the students are receiving. While there, speak with a few of the students and get their feedback. Also, speak with a couple of the teachers and find out what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they hold.
Convenient Class Scheduling. Lots of folks learn a new trade while still working at their present job. Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are considering are convenient enough to satisfy your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Ozark AL, verify that the schools you are considering provide those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you choose offers part-time enrollment. Also, check to see what the policy is to make up classes if you you miss any due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Find the Right Ozark Welding Course for Certification
Choosing the best welder 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 a number of things that you will need to evaluate and compare between the programs you are reviewing. It's a must that any welding training that you are reviewing includes a lot of hands-on training. Classes need to be smaller in size and every student must have their personal welding machine to train with. Classroom education needs to provide a real-world frame of reference, and the training program should be current and conform with industry standards. Courses differ in duration and the type of credential provided, so you will need to decide what length of program and degree or certificate will best serve your needs. Every program offers different options for certification as well. Perhaps The ideal means to research your short list of schools is to visit each campus and speak with the teachers and students. Invest some time to sit in on a few classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the training program you pick is the best one for you. With the proper training, hard work and dedication, the final result will be a new trade as a professional welder in Ozark AL.