How to Select the Right Welder Certification Program near Pell City Alabama
Enrolling in the right welding trade school near Pell City AL is an essential first step to starting 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 significantly, once you have fine tuned your choices, how do you select the right one? A number of prospective students start by checking out the schools that are nearest to their residences. When they have identified those that are within driving distance, they gravitate toward the least expensive one. Yes, location and tuition cost are necessary concerns when evaluating welder trade schools, but they are not the only ones. Other considerations include such things as accreditation, reputation and job placement rates. So before starting your search for a vocational school to become a welder, it's sensible to create a list of qualifications that your selected school must have. But before we delve into our due diligence checklist, let's talk a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welder Certificate and Degree Training Classes
There are multiple alternatives 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 Technology or Welding Engineering, but are more advanced courses than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available along with an apprenticeship program. Below are short explanations of the most prevalent welding programs available in the Pell City AL area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are generally made available by technical and trade schools and require about one year to finish. They are more hands-on training in nature, designed mainly to develop welding skills. They can provide a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or specialized skills for working welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take two 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 prepares students to enter the workforce.
A number of municipalities and states do have licensing prerequisites for welders, therefore don't forget to check for your location of future employment. As required, the welder school you select 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.
Welding Certification Choices
There are a number of organizations that offer welder certifications, which evaluate the knowledge and skill level of those applying. Many Pell City AL employers not only demand a degree or certificate from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a respected organization like the American Welding Society (AWS). Different certifications are available based on the type of work that the welder does. Just some of the things that certification can acknowledge are the welder's ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with certain metal thicknesses
- Work with various types of welds
- Operate in compliance with contract specifications
As previously stated, some cities, states or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those calling for licensing, a number also require certification for different kinds of work. Certification is also a way to demonstrate to employers that you are an extremely skilled and qualified welder. So similarly as with licensing, look into the requirements for your local area and verify that the welding tech school you select preps you for certification if needed.
Questions to Ask Welding Tech Programs
When you have chosen the credential you want to obtain, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can start to evaluate schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are numerous welding trade and technical schools in the Pell City AL area. That's why it's important to establish up front what qualifications your chosen school must have. We have previously covered 2 important ones that many people consider first, which are location and tuition cost. As mentioned, although they are essential qualifiers, they are not the only ones that should be looked at. After all, the program you decide on is going to furnish the education that will be the foundation of your new career as a welder. So following are some additional factors you might want to consider before choosing a welder vocational school.
Accreditation. It's very important that the welding technical school you pick 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, such as Welding Technology. So verify that the program you select is accredited, not just the school alone. Additionally, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, for example the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping make sure that you get a quality education, the accreditation may also assist in securing financial assistance 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 require licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited as well.
Job Placement and Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous welder certificate or degree programs are provided in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Some other schools will assist in placing you in a job or an apprenticeship after graduation. Find out if the schools you are reviewing help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. These 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 larger network of graduates that they can utilize for referrals. These programs can assist students in finding employment and establish associations within the Pell City AL welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that start an academic program and complete it. It's important that the welding school you pick has a high completion rate. A lower rate may signify that the students who were in the program were dissatisfied 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 an excellent reputation within the trade, but additionally that it has the network of Pell City AL employer relationships to help students obtain employment or apprenticeships upon graduation.
Up-to-date Equipment and Facilities. After you have limited your selection of welder programs to two or three possibilities, you should think out visiting the campuses to look over their facilities. Make sure that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed 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 not sure 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 Pell City AL welding contractor if they can give you some pointers.
School Location. Although we previously briefly covered the importance of location, there are a couple of additional points that we should address. You should keep in mind that unless you can move, the welding school you pick must be within driving distance of your Pell City AL home. If you do opt to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to moving expenses there could be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly true for welder certificate 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 a region or state where you ultimately will wish to work.
Smaller Classes. Individualized instruction is essential for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's possible to be lost in larger classes and not get much personalized instruction. Find out what the average class size is for the welder schools you are looking at. Inquire if you can sit in on some classes so that you can see how much individual attention the students are receiving. While there, talk with a few of the students and get their opinions. Similarly, speak with some of the instructors and find out what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they have earned.
Convenient Class Scheduling. Lots of folks learn a new profession while still working at their current job. Check to see that the class schedules for the schools you are looking at are convenient enough to meet your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Pell City AL, confirm that the schools you are looking at provide those alternatives. If you can only attend part-time, confirm that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, check to see what the policy is to make up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family circumstances.
Choose the Best Pell City Welding Course for Certification
Choosing the right welder training program will undoubtedly 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 things that you will need to assess and compare between the programs you are looking at. It's a must that any welder school that you are assessing includes a considerable amount of hands-on training. Classes should be smaller in size and every student must have their personal welding machine to train on. Classroom education needs to offer a real-world context, and the curriculum should be current and in-line with industry standards. Courses vary in length and the type of credential offered, so you will have to ascertain what length of program and certificate or degree will best fulfill your needs. Each program provides different possibilities for certification as well. Probably the best way to research your short list of schools is to visit each campus and speak with the faculty and students. Invest some time to sit in on a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the program you select is the best one for you. With the right training, hard work and commitment, the end result will be a new occupation as a professional welder in Pell City AL.