How to Pick the Best Welder Training Classes near Phenix City Alabama
Selecting the ideal welding school near Phenix City AL is an essential first step to starting your new career as a professional welder. But since there are so many 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 best one? Many people start by checking out the schools that are nearest to their residences. Once they have found those that are within commuting distance, they gravitate toward the least expensive one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are necessary considerations when examining welder trade schools, but they are not the only ones. Other concerns include such things as accreditation, reputation and job placement rates. So before beginning your search for a trade school to become a welder, it's wise to develop a list of qualifications that your selected school must have. But before we examine our due diligence checklist, let's talk a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welding Degree and Certificate Training
There are several options to obtain training as a welder in a trade or vocational school. You can obtain a a certificate, a diploma or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are offered in Welding Engineering or Welding Technology, but are more advanced degrees than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available along with an apprenticeship program. Following are short summaries of the most prevalent welding programs offered in the Phenix City AL area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are usually offered by technical and trade schools and take about a year to complete. They are more hands-on training in nature, fashioned largely 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 finish and are most often offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology provides a more extensive education than the certificate or diploma while still supplying the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
Some municipalities and states do have licensing prerequisites for welders, therefore be sure to find out for your location of potential employment. As needed, the welder school you select should prep you for any licensing exams that you will need to take in addition to supplying the proper training to become a qualified welder.
Welder Certification Options
There are various organizations that offer welder certifications, which assess the knowledge and skill level of those applying. Numerous Phenix City AL employers not only expect a degree or certificate from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a respected agency like the American Welding Society (AWS). A variety of certifications are available based on the type of work that the welder does. A few of the skills that certification can attest to are the welder's ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specified metal thicknesses
- Work with various types of welds
- Perform according to contract specifications
As previously mentioned, various states, cities or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those calling for licensing, many additionally require certification for different types of work. Certification is also a means to prove to employers that you are an extremely skilled and experienced welder. So similarly as with licensing, look into the requirements for your local area and verify that the welding trade school you select readies you for certification if needed.
Questions to Ask Welder Tech Programs
Once you have decided on the credential you want to obtain, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can start to evaluate schools. As you probably know, there are a large number of welding trade and vocational schools in the Phenix City AL area. That's why it's important to determine in advance what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have already covered two 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 should be looked at. After all, the program you pick is going to provide the instruction that will be the foundation of your new profession as a welder. So following are more factors you might need to consider before selecting a welding tech school.
Accreditation. It's very important that the welder technical school you choose is accredited by either a regional or a national organization. There are 2 standard kinds of accreditation. The school may receive Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on an individual program the school offers, for instance Welding Technology. So make sure 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, like the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping ensure that you get a quality education, the accreditation can also help in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases not offered in Phenix City AL for non-accredited schools. Also, for those states or local governments that require licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited as well.
Apprenticeship and Job Assistance Programs. Many welding degree or certificate programs are offered combined with an apprenticeship program. Other schools will help place you in a job or an apprenticeship after graduation. Ask if the schools you are reviewing help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. The schools should have associations with local unions and other metal working businesses to which they can refer their students. Older schools may have a larger network of graduates that they can utilize for referrals. These programs can assist students in finding employment and establish relationships within the Phenix City AL welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that begin an educational program and complete it. It's crucial that the welder program you choose has a high completion rate. A reduced rate might mean that the students who enrolled in the program were unhappy with the instruction, the teachers, 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 confirm that the school has a good reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of Phenix City AL employer relationships to assist students secure employment or apprenticeships after graduation.
Up-to-date Facilities and Equipment. After you have narrowed down your selection of welding programs to 2 or 3 options, you should consider going to the campuses to look over their facilities. Make sure 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 using on the job. If you are unsure what to look for, and are already in an apprenticeship program, ask the master welder you are working under for guidance. If not, ask a local Phenix City AL welding contractor if they can give you a few suggestions.
School Location. Even though 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 are able to relocate, the welder program you choose must be within driving distance of your Phenix City AL home. If you do decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, apart from relocation expenses there might be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially true for welding diploma 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 should be in a region or state where you subsequently will wish to work.
Smaller Classes. One-on-one training is essential for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's easy to get overlooked in larger classes and not obtain much individualized training. Ask what the average class size is for the welding programs you are considering. Inquire if you can sit in on a few classes so that you can observe how much personal attention the students are getting. While there, speak with a few of the students and get their feedback. Also, chat with a few of the instructors and find out what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they have earned.
Convenient Class Scheduling. Many people learn a new profession while still employed at their current job. Confirm that the class schedules for the schools you are considering are convenient enough to meet your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Phenix City AL, verify that the schools you are looking at offer those choices. If you can only attend part-time, confirm that the school you pick offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the policy is to make up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Phenix City Welding Training for Certification
Selecting the right welder school will undoubtedly be the most important decision you will make to launch your new profession. As we have addressed in this article, there are a number of things that you will need to evaluate and compare between the programs you are looking at. It's a necessity that any welder school that you are evaluating includes a lot of hands-on instruction. Classes should be smaller in size and every student must have their personal welding machine to train with. Classroom education needs to offer a real-world perspective, and the curriculum should be current and in-line with industry standards. Training programs vary in length and the type of credential offered, so you will need to determine what length of program and certificate or degree will best serve your needs. Each program offers unique options for certification also. Probably the best approach to research your short list of schools is to check out each campus and talk with the faculty and students. Invest some time to sit in on a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the school you select is the ideal one for you. With the proper training, hard work and dedication, the final result will be a new career as a professional welder in Phenix City AL.