How to Choose the Best Welding Trade School near Pelham Alabama
Locating the ideal welder vocational school near Pelham 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 determine which ones to consider? And more significantly, once you have fine tuned your alternatives, how do you pick the right one? A number of people begin by looking at the schools that are nearest to their homes. Once they have found those that are within driving distance, they gravitate toward the least costly one. Yes, location and tuition cost are necessary issues when examining welder technical schools, but they are not the only ones. Other considerations 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 sensible to develop a list of qualifications that your selected school must have. But before we explore our due diligence checklist, let's cover a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welder Certificate and Degree Training Classes
There are several options to get training as a welder in a technical or trade school. You can receive a diploma, a certificate or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are offered in Welding Technology or Welding Engineering, but are more advanced programs than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available combined with an apprenticeship program. Following are brief explanations of the most typical welding programs available in the Pelham AL area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are normally made available by trade and technical schools and require about one year to complete. They are more hands-on training in scope, designed largely to develop welding skills. They can provide 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 offers a more well-rounded education than the diploma or certificate while still supplying the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
Some municipalities and states do have licensing prerequisites for welders, so make sure to find out for your location of future employment. If required, the welding school you pick should prep you for any licensing exams that you will have to pass in addition to supplying the suitable training to become a professional welder.
Welder Certification Options
There are various organizations that provide welder certifications, which test the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Numerous Pelham AL employers not only require a certificate or degree from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a highly regarded organization such as the American Welding Society (AWS). Different certifications are offered based upon the type of work that the welder does. Some of the skills that certification can attest to are the welder's ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specific metal thicknesses
- Work with certain types of welds
- Work in compliance with contract specifications
As earlier mentioned, various cities, states or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those calling for licensing, many also require certification for various kinds of work. Certification is also a way to prove to employers that you are an extremely skilled and experienced welder. So just as with licensing, look into the requirements for your location and make certain that the welder technical school you choose preps you for certification as needed.
Topics to Ask Welding Vocational Programs
When 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 numerous welding trade and technical schools in the Pelham AL area. That's why it's essential to determine in advance what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have already discussed two significant ones that most people look at first, which are location and tuition cost. As mentioned, although they are very important qualifications, they are not the only ones that need to be looked at. After all, the school you pick is going to provide the training that will be the foundation of your new profession as a welder. So following are some additional factors you may need to evaluate before selecting a welder tech school.
Accreditation. It's extremely important that the welding trade school you choose is accredited by either a regional or a national agency. There are two basic kinds of accreditation. The school may attain Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a specific program the school has, such as Welding Technology. So confirm that the program you select is accredited, not just the school alone. Also, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, such as the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping make sure that you obtain a quality education, the accreditation can also help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are often not available in Pelham 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.
Job Placement and Apprenticeship Programs. Many welder degree or diploma programs are offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Various other schools will help place you in a job or an apprenticeship upon graduation. Ask if the schools you are reviewing 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 more substantial network of graduates that they can rely upon for placements. These programs can assist students in finding employment and establish relationships within the Pelham AL welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that enroll in an academic program and complete it. It's crucial that the welder program you pick has a higher completion rate. A reduced rate may mean that the students who joined the program were unhappy with the instruction, the teachers, or the facilities, and dropped out. The job placement rate is also an indication of the caliber of training. A high 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 Pelham AL contacts to help students secure employment or apprenticeships upon graduation.
Up-to-date Facilities and Equipment. After you have limited your selection of welder programs to two or three options, you should think out visiting the campuses to look over their facilities. Make sure that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be taught on are modern. In particular, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be working with in the field. If you are unsure 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 Pelham AL welding professional if they can give you some tips.
School Location. Although we previously briefly talked about the significance of location, there are a couple of additional issues that we need to address. You should keep in mind that unless you have the ability to relocate, the welder program you pick needs to be within driving distance of your Pelham AL home. If you do decide to attend an out-of-state school, apart from relocation costs there might be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly the case for welding degree programs offered by community colleges. Furthermore, if the school offers 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 an area or state where you subsequently will wish to work.
Small Classes. One-on-one instruction is essential for a manual trade such as welding. It's possible to be overlooked in bigger classes and not get much individualized training. Find out what the average class size is for the welding programs you are looking at. Inquire if you can sit in on a couple of classes so that you can observe how much individual attention the students are getting. While there, speak with several of the students and get their evaluations. Similarly, talk to a couple of the instructors and ask what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they hold.
Flexible Class Schedules. Many people learn a new trade 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 go to classes at night or on weekends near Pelham AL, verify that the schools you are considering provide those options. If you can only enroll part-time, make certain that the school you decide on offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the protocol is to make up classes if you you miss any due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Find the Best Pelham Welding Program for Certification
Selecting the ideal welder training program will probably be the most important decision you will make to launch your new career. As we have discussed in this article, there are a number of factors that you will need to evaluate and compare between the schools you are reviewing. It's a necessity that any welder school that you are evaluating includes a considerable amount of hands-on instruction. Classes should be smaller in size and every student must have their own welding machine to train with. Classroom teaching needs to provide a real-world context, and the curriculum should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Courses differ in length and the kind of credential provided, so you will have to ascertain what length of program and credential will best fulfill your needs. Every program offers different possibilities for certification as well. Probably the best means to research your short list of schools is to check out each campus and speak with the students and faculty. Invest some time to monitor some classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the program you decide on is the right one for you. With the proper training, effort and commitment, the end outcome will be a new trade as a professional welder in Pelham AL.