How to Select the Right Welder Certificate Program near Pelham Alabama
Choosing the right welder vocational school near Pelham AL is an important first step to beginning your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are so many schools to choose from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more notably, once you have narrowed down your choices, how do you select the right one? A number of people begin by checking out the schools that are closest to their residences. Once they have identified those that are within commuting distance, they are drawn toward the least costly one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are crucial considerations when evaluating welder trade schools, but they are not the only ones. Other concerns 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 prudent to develop a list of qualifications that your selected school must have. But before we explore our due diligence checklist, let's talk a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welder Certificate and Degree Programs
There are several alternatives available to receive training as a welder in a trade or technical school. You can obtain 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 made available combined with an apprenticeship program. Below are short descriptions of the most common welding programs offered in the Pelham AL area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are generally made available by trade and technical schools and require about one year to finish. They are more hands-on training in nature, created primarily to teach welding skills. They can furnish a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or specialized skills for experienced welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take 2 years to complete 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.
A number of states and municipalities do have licensing prerequisites for welders, therefore make sure to check for your location of future employment. If required, the welding school you select should prepare you for any licensing exams that you will need to take in addition to furnishing the suitable training to become a qualified welder.
Welder Certification Options
There are multiple institutions that provide welder certifications, which assess the knowledge and skill level of those applying. Many Pelham AL employers not only demand a degree or certificate from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a renowned organization like the American Welding Society (AWS). A wide range of certifications are offered dependent on the type of work that the welder does. Some of the skills that certification can attest to are the welder's ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specific metal thicknesses
- Work with various kinds of welds
- Perform in compliance with contract specifications
As previously stated, various states, cities or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those calling for licensing, some also require certification for various types of work. Certification is also a means to prove to employers that you are an extremely skilled and qualified welder. So similarly as with licensing, check the requirements for your local area and confirm that the welder trade school you select prepares you for certification as needed.
Questions to Ask Welding Technical Programs
After you have decided on the credential you would like to obtain, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can start to evaluate schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are many welder trade and vocational schools in the Pelham AL area. That's why it's important to establish in advance what qualifications your selected school must have. We have previously covered 2 significant ones that many people consider first, which are location and tuition cost. As mentioned, 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 training that will be the foundation of your new vocation as a welder. So below are some additional factors you may need to consider before picking a welding trade school.
Accreditation. It's very important that the welding vocational school you choose is accredited by either a national or a regional agency. There are two basic types of accreditation. The school may earn Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a specific program the school has, for example Welding Technology. So confirm 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 make sure that you obtain an excellent education, the accreditation can also assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are often not available 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 as well.
Job Assistance and Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of welder diploma or degree programs are provided in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Some other schools will assist in placing you in an apprenticeship or a job after graduation. Find out if the schools you are looking at help 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 larger network of graduates that they can utilize for placements. These programs can assist students in finding employment and develop relationships within the Pelham AL welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that start an academic program and complete it. It's crucial that the welding program you choose has a high completion rate. A low rate might signify that the students who joined the program were dissatisfied with the instruction, the instructors, or the facilities, and quit. The job placement rate is also a good indicator of the caliber of training. A high job placement rate will not only verify that the program has an excellent reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of Pelham AL contacts to assist students secure apprenticeships or employment upon graduation.
Modern Equipment and Facilities. Once you have narrowed down your selection of welding schools to 2 or 3 possibilities, you should consider visiting the campuses to evaluate their facilities. Verify that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be instructed on are modern. In particular, the training equipment should be comparable 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, ask the master welder you are working under for guidance. Otherwise, ask a local Pelham AL welding professional if they can give you some suggestions.
School Location. Although we already briefly covered the significance of location, there are a couple of additional points that we need to deal with. You should bear in mind that unless you have the ability to move, the welder school you select needs to be within driving distance of your Pelham AL home. If you do decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there might be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially the case for welding diploma programs offered by community colleges. Also, if the school offers an apprenticeship or job placement program, more than likely their placements are within the school's local community. So the location of the school should be in a region or state where you ultimately will wish to work.
Smaller Classes. Personalized training is essential for a manual trade such as welding. It's easy to get lost in bigger classes and not obtain much individualized instruction. Ask what the average class size is for the welding schools you are reviewing. Ask if you can attend a few classes so that you can see just how much individual attention the students are receiving. While there, talk with some of the students and get their evaluations. Also, talk with a couple of the trainers and find out what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they have earned.
Flexible Class Schedules. 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 flexible enough to satisfy your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Pelham AL, make sure that the schools you are reviewing offer those alternatives. If you can only attend part-time, verify that the school you decide on offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the policy is to make up classes if you you miss any due to work, sickness or family emergencies.
Choose the Right Pelham Welding Program for Certification
Choosing the best welding school will probably be the most important decision you will make to begin your new career. As we have addressed in this article, there are a number of factors 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 considering includes a lot of hands-on training. Classes should be smaller in size and every student must have their personal welding machine to train on. Classroom instruction needs to offer a real-world frame of reference, and the curriculum should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Courses differ in duration and the kind of credential provided, so you will need to decide what length of program and certificate or degree will best serve your needs. Each training program offers unique options for certification as well. Probably The ideal way to research your short list of schools is to visit each campus and talk with the faculty and students. Take the time to attend a few classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the school you decide on is the ideal one for you. With the right training, hard work and commitment, the final result will be a new career as a professional welder in Pelham AL.