How to Pick the Best Welder Vocational School near Pell City Alabama
Locating the ideal welding trade school near Pell City 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 significantly, once you have fine tuned your choices, how do you pick the right one? Many prospective students start by reviewing the schools that are nearest to their residences. Once they have located those that are within driving distance, they are drawn toward the least expensive one. Yes, location and tuition cost are crucial 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 initiating your search for a vocational school to become a welder, it's prudent to create a list of qualifications that your chosen school must have. But before we explore our due diligence checklist, let's talk a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welding Certificate and Degree Training Programs
There are several options available to receive training as a welder in a technical or trade 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 degrees than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Below are short summaries of the most common welding programs available in the Pell City AL area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are normally made available by technical and trade schools and require about 1 year to finish. They are more hands-on training in scope, designed largely to teach welding skills. They can provide a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or supplemental skills for working welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take 2 years to complete and are most often offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology furnishes a more extensive education than the certificate or diploma while still providing the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
Some states and municipalities do have licensing requirements for welders, therefore be sure to find out for your location of future employment. If needed, the welder school you pick should prep you for any licensing examinations that you will have to take in addition to furnishing the appropriate training to become a qualified welder.
Welding Certification Choices
There are a number of institutions that offer welding certifications, which assess the knowledge and skill level of those applying. Many Pell City AL employers not only demand a certificate or degree from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a highly regarded agency such as the American Welding Society (AWS). Different certifications are offered based upon the type of work that the welder performs. A few 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 certain types of welds
- Perform in compliance with contract specifications
As already mentioned, various states, cities or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those mandating licensing, many also require certification for different kinds of work. Certification is also a means to demonstrate to employers that you are an exceptionally skilled and qualified welder. So just as with licensing, look into the requirements for your location and confirm that the welder vocational school you choose preps you for certification as needed.
Questions to Ask Welding Tech Programs
Once you have decided on the credential you would like to earn, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can start to evaluate schools. As you probably know, there are many welder trade and technical schools in the Pell City AL area. That's why it's important to decide up front what qualifications your chosen school must have. We have already covered a couple of important 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 must be looked at. After all, the program you decide on is going to provide the training that will be the foundation of your new vocation as a welder. So below are some additional factors you might need to evaluate before choosing a welder technical school.
Accreditation. It's essential that the welder trade school you choose is accredited by either a national or a regional agency. There are 2 standard types 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, for instance Welding Technology. So confirm that the program you choose is accredited, not just the school alone. Also, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, for example the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). In addition to helping make sure that you obtain a superior education, the accreditation may also assist in getting financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases not offered in Pell City AL for non-accredited schools. Finally, for those states or municipalities that mandate licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited also.
Apprenticeship and Job Assistance Programs. Numerous welding diploma or degree programs are provided combined with an apprenticeship program. Some other schools will assist in placing you in a job or an apprenticeship upon graduation. Find out if the schools you are considering help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. These schools must have associations 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 rely upon for referrals. These programs can help students find employment and develop associations within the Pell City AL welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that begin an academic program and complete it. It's essential that the welder school you select has a higher completion rate. A reduced rate might signify that the students who joined the program were unhappy with the training, the instructors, or the facilities, and dropped out. 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 school has an excellent reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of Pell City AL contacts to help students secure apprenticeships or employment upon graduation.
Modern Equipment and Facilities. Once you have narrowed down your choice of welding programs to 2 or 3 options, you should think out going to the campuses to evaluate their facilities. Verify that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed 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. Otherwise, ask a local Pell City AL welding contractor if they can give you a few tips.
School Location. Although we already briefly talked about the importance of location, there are a couple of additional points that we should cover. You should bear in mind that unless you can relocate, the welder school you pick needs to be within commuting distance of your Pell City AL home. If you do opt to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides moving costs there might be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially the case for welder degree programs offered by community colleges. Furthermore, if the school provides 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 subsequently will desire to work.
Small Classes. Personalized instruction is important for a manual trade such as welding. It's possible to get overlooked in bigger classes and not obtain much personalized training. Ask what the usual class size is for the welder programs you are reviewing. Inquire if you can sit in on a couple of classes so that you can observe just how much individual attention the students are receiving. While there, talk with some of the students and get their evaluations. Also, talk to some of the trainers and ask what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they hold.
Flexible Class Scheduling. Some people learn a new profession while still employed at their present job. Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are considering are flexible enough to satisfy your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Pell City AL, confirm that the schools you are looking at provide those choices. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, make certain 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, illness or family circumstances.
Find the Best Pell City Welding Program for Certification
Selecting the best welding training program will probably be the most important decision you will make to launch your new trade. 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 looking at. It's a necessity that any welder training that you are considering includes a lot of hands-on training. Classes need to be small in size and every student should have their personal welding machine to train on. Classroom education should 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 type of credential offered, so you will need to ascertain what length of program and degree or certificate will best satisfy your needs. Every program offers different options for certification as well. Probably the best approach to research your short list of schools is to check out each campus and talk with the students and instructors. Invest some time to attend a few classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the program you pick is the best one for you. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, the final result will be a new career as a professional welder in Pell City AL.