How to Select the Best Welding Certification Classes near Pelham Alabama
Selecting the right welding trade school near Pelham AL is an important first step to launching your new career as a professional welder. But since there are numerous schools to pick from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more importantly, once you have narrowed down your options, how do you pick the right one? Most prospective students start by checking out the schools that are closest to their residences. Once they have identified those that are within driving distance, they gravitate toward the least expensive one. Yes, location and tuition cost are important issues when examining welder trade schools, but they are not the only ones. Other considerations include such things as accreditation, reputation and job placement rates. So before initiating your search for a vocational school to become a welder, it's wise to establish a list of qualifications that your chosen school must have. But before we explore our due diligence checklist, let's cover a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welder Degree and Certificate Training Classes
There are multiple options available to receive training as a welder in a trade or vocational school. You can obtain a diploma, a certificate or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are offered 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. Following are brief descriptions of the most typical welding programs offered in the Pelham AL area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are normally made available by technical and trade schools and require about 1 year to complete. They are more hands-on training in nature, created mainly to teach welding skills. They can provide a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or additional skills for experienced welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take two years to finish and are usually offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology provides a more well-rounded education than the diploma or certificate while still providing the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
Some states and municipalities do have licensing requirements for welders, therefore be sure to check for your location of potential employment. As required, the welding school you choose 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 Choices
There are various institutions that offer welder certifications, which evaluate the skill level and knowledge of those applying. A large number of Pelham AL employers not only demand a certificate or degree from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a renowned organization like the American Welding Society (AWS). A wide range of certifications are offered based on the kind of work that the welder performs. 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 various types of welds
- Work according to contract specifications
As earlier mentioned, many states, cities or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those requiring licensing, many also require certification for different kinds of work. Certification is also a way to demonstrate to employers that you are a highly skilled and qualified welder. So just as with licensing, check the requirements for your local area and make certain that the welder technical school you select readies you for certification if needed.
Questions to Ask Welding Technical Schools
Once you have chosen the credential you want to attain, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can start to compare schools. As you probably know, there are numerous welding trade and vocational schools in the Pelham AL area. That's why it's important to determine in advance what qualifications your chosen school must have. We have already discussed 2 significant ones that most people consider first, which are location and tuition cost. As mentioned, although they are essential qualifications, they are not the only ones that must be considered. After all, the program you decide on is going to furnish the instruction that will be the foundation of your new profession as a welder. So following are more factors you may want to evaluate before picking a welding vocational school.
Accreditation. It's very important that the welder technical school you select is accredited by either a national or a regional organization. There are two basic types of accreditation. The school may receive Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a single program the school offers, for example Welding Technology. So verify that the program you pick is accredited, not just the school alone. Also, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, like the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping make sure that you obtain a quality education, the accreditation may also help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are often not offered in Pelham AL for non-accredited schools. Also, for those states or municipalities that require licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited also.
Job Assistance and Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of welding degree or diploma programs are provided in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Other schools will help place you in an apprenticeship or a job after graduation. Find out if the schools you are reviewing assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. These schools should have associations with local unions and other metal working businesses to which they can place their students. Older schools may have a larger network of graduates that they can rely upon for referrals. These programs can help students find employment and establish associations within the Pelham AL welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that enroll in an educational program and complete it. It's essential that the welder school you pick has a high completion rate. A low rate might indicate that the students who joined the program were unhappy with the training, the instructors, or the facilities, and quit. The job placement rate is also a good indicator of the quality of training. A high job placement rate will not only confirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of Pelham AL employer relationships to assist students secure apprenticeships or employment upon graduation.
Modern Equipment and Facilities. After you have limited your choice of welder schools to two or three options, you should think out going to the campuses to look over their facilities. Confirm that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be taught on are up-to-date. In particular, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be working with on the job. If you are uncertain 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 Pelham AL welding professional if they can give you some pointers.
School Location. Even though we previously briefly talked about the significance of location, there are a few additional issues that we should deal with. You should keep in mind that unless you have the ability to move, the welding school you choose must be within driving distance of your Pelham AL home. If you do opt to attend an out-of-state school, apart from moving costs there could be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially the case for welding diploma programs offered by community colleges. Furthermore, if the school offers a job placement or apprenticeship program, most 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 want to work.
Small Classes. One-on-one training is important for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's easy to get overlooked in larger classes and not get much individualized instruction. Ask what the typical class size is for the welding programs you are considering. Inquire if you can attend a couple of classes so that you can observe how much personal attention the students are receiving. While there, talk with some of the students and get their feedback. Similarly, talk with a few of the teachers and find out what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they have earned.
Flexible Class Schedules. Many people learn a new profession while still working at their current job. Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are looking at are convenient enough to meet your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Pelham AL, make certain that the schools you are considering offer those options. If you can only enroll part-time, make sure that the school you decide on offers part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the protocol is to make up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Find the Right Pelham Welding Training for Certification
Selecting the best welder training program will undoubtedly be the most critical 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 schools you are considering. It's a must that any welding training program that you are assessing includes a lot of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be smaller in size and each student must have their own welding machine to train with. Classroom teaching needs to provide a real-world frame of reference, and the course of study should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Courses vary in duration and the kind of credential offered, so you will have to decide what length of program and credential will best satisfy your needs. Every training program provides different options for certification as well. Probably the best approach to research your short list of schools is to go to each campus and speak with the students and instructors. Invest some time to attend a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the school you pick is the ideal one for you. With the right training, hard work and commitment, the end outcome will be a new career as a professional welder in Pelham AL.