How to Find the Right Welding Degree Program near Pelham Alabama
Selecting the right welding vocational school near Pelham AL is an important first step to beginning your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are numerous schools to select from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more notably, once you have fine tuned your alternatives, how do you select the best one? A number of people start by checking out the schools that are closest to their residences. When they have found those that are within commuting distance, they are drawn toward the least costly one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are important issues when reviewing welding technical schools, but they are not the only ones. Other concerns 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 wise to create a list of qualifications that your chosen school must have. But before we delve into our due diligence checklist, let's cover a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welding Certificate and Degree Programs
There are several alternatives available 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 Engineering or Welding Technology, but are more advanced courses than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also offered along with an apprenticeship program. Following are short summaries of the most typical welding programs available in the Pelham AL area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are generally offered by trade and technical schools and take about a year to complete. They are more hands-on training in scope, created primarily to develop welding skills. They can provide a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or specialized skills for experienced welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take two years to complete and are usually offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology furnishes a more well-rounded education than the certificate or diploma while still supplying the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
Many municipalities and states do have licensing requirements for welders, so make sure to find out for your location of future employment. As needed, the welder school you choose should ready you for any licensing exams that you will need to pass in addition to supplying the proper training to become a professional welder.
Welder Certification Alternatives
There are several organizations that provide welder certifications, which test the knowledge and skill level of those applying. A large number of Pelham AL employers not only expect a certificate or degree from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a renowned organization such as the American Welding Society (AWS). A wide range of certifications are available dependent on the type of work that the welder performs. Just some of the things that certification can attest to are the welder's ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with certain metal thicknesses
- Work with various types of welds
- Work in compliance with contract specifications
As already stated, some states, cities or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those mandating licensing, many also require certification for various kinds of work. Certification is also a means to demonstrate to employers that you are an exceptionally skilled and knowledgeable welder. So just as with licensing, check the requirements for your local area and make sure that the welding vocational school you choose readies you for certification as needed.
What to Ask Welder Technical Schools
As soon as you have decided on the credential you want to earn, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can begin to compare schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are a large number of welder trade and technical schools in the Pelham AL area. That's why it's essential to determine up front what qualifications your chosen school must have. We have already covered a couple of significant ones that many people look at first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As stated, although they are very important qualifications, they are not the only ones that need to be looked at. After all, the school you decide on is going to provide 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 choosing a welder vocational school.
Accreditation. It's essential that the welder vocational school you choose is accredited by either a regional or a national agency. There are two standard types of accreditation. The school may earn 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 pick is accredited, not just the school itself. 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). In addition to helping ensure that you get a superior education, the accreditation might also assist in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are often not offered in Pelham AL for non-accredited schools. Finally, 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. Many welder diploma or degree programs are provided combined with an apprenticeship program. 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 assistance program. The schools should have relationships with local unions and various 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 assist students in finding employment and develop associations within the Pelham AL welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that begin an educational program and finish it. It's crucial that the welding school you choose has a high completion rate. A low rate may mean that the students who enrolled in the program were unhappy with the instruction, 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 affirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of Pelham AL contacts to assist students obtain employment or apprenticeships after graduation.
Modern Equipment and Facilities. After you have narrowed down your choice of welder schools to two or three options, you should consider visiting the campuses to look over their facilities. Confirm that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are up-to-date. Specifically, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be using on the job. If you are not sure what to look for, and are currently in an apprenticeship program, ask the master welder you are working under for guidance. If not, ask a local Pelham AL welding contractor if they can give you some pointers.
School Location. Even though we already briefly talked about the importance of location, there are a few additional points that we need to address. You should keep in mind that unless you can move, the welder school you pick must be within driving distance of your Pelham AL home. If you do choose to attend an out-of-state school, besides moving expenses there may be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially the case for welding degree programs offered by community colleges. Furthermore, if the school offers an apprenticeship or job placement program, often their placements are within the school's local community. So the location of the school needs to be in an area or state where you ultimately will desire to work.
Smaller Classes. Individualized instruction is essential for a manual trade such as welding. It's easy to be overlooked in larger classes and not receive much personalized training. Find out what the usual class size is for the welding programs you are looking at. Ask if you can sit in on a couple of classes so that you can experience how much individual attention the students are receiving. While there, speak with some of the students and get their feedback. Also, speak with a couple of the trainers and find out what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they hold.
Convenient Class Schedules. Many people learn a new trade while still employed at their current job. Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are considering are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Pelham AL, verify that the schools you are looking at offer those alternatives. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, verify that the school you decide on offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the policy is to make up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Choose the Right Pelham Welding Course for Certification
Picking the best welder training program will undoubtedly be the most critical decision you will make to begin your new profession. As we have discussed in this article, there are a number of factors that you will need to evaluate and compare between the programs you are reviewing. It's a must that any welder training program that you are evaluating includes a considerable amount of hands-on training. Classes need to be smaller in size and each student should have their own welding machine to train on. Classroom education needs to offer a real-world frame of reference, and the curriculum should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Courses differ in duration and the type of credential provided, so you will need to determine what length of program and certificate or degree will best fulfill your needs. Every program offers unique possibilities for certification also. Perhaps The ideal means to research your final list of schools is to go to each campus and speak with the students and faculty. Invest some time to monitor some classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the training program you select is the best one for you. With the right training, effort and dedication, the final outcome will be a new occupation as a professional welder in Pelham AL.