How to Choose the Best Welding Certificate Program near Ozark Alabama
Finding the ideal welder technical school near Ozark AL is an important first step to beginning your new career as a professional welder. But since there are a lot of schools to choose from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more importantly, once you have fine tuned your options, how do you pick the best one? A number of people begin by looking at the schools that are closest to their residences. When they have located those that are within commuting distance, they are drawn toward the least costly one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are necessary considerations when evaluating welding technical schools, but they are not the only ones. Other considerations include such things as reputation, accreditation and job placement rates. So before starting your search for a trade school to become a welder, it's sensible to develop a list of qualifications that your chosen school must have. But before we delve into our due diligence checklist, let's talk a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welder Degree and Certificate Training Courses
There are several options to get training as a welder in a trade or vocational school. You can obtain a a certificate, a diploma or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are available in Welding Engineering or Welding Technology, but are more advanced programs than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available along with an apprenticeship program. Below are short descriptions of the most common welding programs available in the Ozark AL area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are normally offered by technical and trade schools and take about a year to finish. They are more hands-on training in scope, fashioned mainly to develop welding skills. They can furnish a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or additional skills for working welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take 2 years to finish and are usually offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology furnishes a more well-rounded education than the diploma or certificate while still supplying the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
Some states and municipalities do have licensing prerequisites for welders, so don't forget to find out for your location of future employment. As required, the welder school you select should prep you for any licensing examinations that you will need to take in addition to furnishing the proper training to become a professional welder.
Welder Certification Choices
There are a number of organizations that offer welding certifications, which evaluate the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Numerous Ozark AL employers not only expect a degree or certificate from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a renowned agency such as the American Welding Society (AWS). A variety of certifications are offered based upon the kind of work that the welder does. Just 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 specific kinds of welds
- Perform according to contract specifications
As already stated, various cities, states or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those mandating licensing, many additionally require certification for various types of work. Certification is also a means to prove to employers that you are a highly skilled and knowledgeable welder. So similarly as with licensing, look into the requirements for your location and make certain that the welder technical school you decide on readies you for certification if needed.
Questions to Ask Welding Technical Programs
When you have decided on the credential you want to obtain, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can begin to assess schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are a large number of welder vocational and trade schools in the Ozark AL area. That's why it's important to establish up front what qualifications your chosen school must have. We have already discussed two significant ones that most people consider first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As mentioned, although they are essential qualifiers, they are not the only ones that should be looked at. After all, the program you choose 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 consider before selecting a welding tech school.
Accreditation. It's essential that the welding technical school you decide on is accredited by either a national or a regional agency. There are two standard types of accreditation. The school may receive Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a specific program the school offers, such as Welding Technology. So confirm that the program you choose is accredited, not just the school itself. 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). Besides helping make sure that you receive a quality education, the accreditation might also assist in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently not available in Ozark AL for non-accredited schools. Finally, for those states or local governments that require licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited as well.
Job Placement and Apprenticeship Programs. Many welder degree or certificate programs are offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Some other schools will help place you in an apprenticeship or a job upon graduation. Find out if the schools you are considering help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. The schools should have partnerships with local unions and other metal working businesses to which they can place their students. More established schools may have a larger network of graduates that they can utilize for placements. 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 educational program and complete it. It's important that the welding school you choose has a high completion rate. A reduced rate could 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 quality of training. A high job placement rate will not only verify that the school has an excellent reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of Ozark AL contacts to assist students secure employment or apprenticeships upon graduation.
Modern Equipment and Facilities. After you have narrowed down your choice of welder schools to two or three possibilities, 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 instructed on are modern. Specifically, the training equipment should be comparable to what you will be using on the job. If you are unsure what to look for, and are already in an apprenticeship program, consult with the master welder you are working under for guidance. If not, ask a local Ozark AL welding contractor if they can give you some tips.
School Location. Although we already briefly covered the significance of location, there are a couple of additional issues that we should cover. You should bear in mind that unless you are able to move, the welder program you choose must be within commuting distance of your Ozark AL home. If you do choose to attend an out-of-state school, apart from moving costs there might be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly the case for welder degree programs offered by community colleges. Additionally, if the school provides an apprenticeship or job placement program, more than likely their placements are within the school's regional community. So the location of the school needs to be in an area or state where you subsequently will desire to work.
Smaller Classes. Personalized instruction is essential for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's possible to get lost in larger classes and not receive much one-on-one instruction. Ask what the average class size is for the welding programs you are looking at. Inquire if you can attend a couple of classes so that you can witness just how much personal attention the students are receiving. While there, talk with some of the students and get their feedback. Also, talk with some of the teachers and ask what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they hold.
Convenient Class Scheduling. Lots of folks learn a new profession while still working at their current job. Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are considering are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Ozark AL, make sure that the schools you are assessing offer those alternatives. If you can only attend part-time, confirm 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 work, sickness or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Ozark Welding Program for Certification
Picking the ideal welder school will undoubtedly be the most important decision you will make to start your new trade. As we have addressed in this article, there are many things that you will need to assess and compare between the programs you are looking at. It's a necessity that any welding training program that you are reviewing includes a good deal of hands-on instruction. Classes should be smaller in size and each student must have their personal welding machine to train on. Classroom education needs to offer a real-world perspective, and the curriculum should be current and in-line with industry standards. Courses differ in length and the type of credential offered, so you will have to determine what length of program and credential will best satisfy your needs. Every program provides different options for certification also. Perhaps the best approach to research your final 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 training program you decide on is the ideal one for you. With the right training, hard work and dedication, the final result will be a new trade as a professional welder in Ozark AL.