How to Select the Best Welder Training Classes near Phenix City Alabama
Choosing the right welding technical school near Phenix City AL is an essential first step to beginning your new career as a professional welder. But since there are a lot of schools to choose from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more significantly, once you have fine tuned your options, how do you pick the best one? A number of prospective students start by looking at the schools that are closest to their residences. When they have identified those that are within commuting distance, they are drawn toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and tuition cost are crucial issues when evaluating welding vocational schools, but they are not the only ones. Other concerns 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 prudent 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 Programs
There are multiple options available to obtain training as a welder in a technical or trade school. You can earn a a certificate, a diploma 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 combined with an apprenticeship program. Below are short descriptions of the most typical welding programs available in the Phenix City AL area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are normally offered by trade and technical schools and require about one year to finish. They are more hands-on training in nature, designed largely to teach welding skills. They can furnish 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 provides a more well-rounded education than the diploma or certificate while still providing the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
Some states and municipalities do have licensing prerequisites for welders, so don't forget to check for your location of potential employment. If required, the welding school you pick should ready you for any licensing exams that you will have to pass in addition to providing the appropriate training to become a qualified welder.
Welding Certification Alternatives
There are various organizations that provide welding certifications, which assess the knowledge and skill level of those applying. Many Phenix City AL employers not only demand a certificate or degree from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a respected organization like the American Welding Society (AWS). A variety of certifications are offered dependent on the kind of work that the welder performs. Just 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 specific types of welds
- Perform based on contract specifications
As formerly mentioned, some cities, states or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those mandating licensing, many also require certification for various kinds of work. Certification is also a means to demonstrate to employers that you are an extremely skilled and qualified welder. So similarly as with licensing, check the requirements for your location and verify that the welding tech school you select prepares you for certification if needed.
Points to Ask Welding Tech Programs
When you have chosen the credential you would like to attain, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can begin to evaluate schools. As you can imagine, there are numerous welding vocational and trade schools in the Phenix City AL area. That's why it's necessary to establish up front what qualifications your chosen school must have. We have already discussed a couple of important ones that many people look at first, which are location and tuition cost. As stated, although they are essential qualifiers, they are not the only ones that need to be considered. After all, the program you decide on is going to provide the instruction that will be the foundation of your new career as a welder. So following are some additional factors you might want to consider before picking a welder vocational school.
Accreditation. It's extremely important that the welder vocational school you choose is accredited by either a regional or a national agency. There are 2 standard kinds of accreditation. The school may earn Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a single program the school has, for instance Welding Technology. So make certain that the program you select is accredited, not just the school alone. Also, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education recognized 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 quality education, the accreditation can also assist in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently not available in Phenix City AL for schools that are not accredited. Finally, for those states or municipalities that mandate licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited as well.
Apprenticeship and Job Placement Programs. A large number of welding degree or diploma programs are provided combined with an apprenticeship program. Some other schools will help place you in an apprenticeship or a job after graduation. Ask if the schools you are reviewing help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. The schools must have partnerships 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 rely upon for placements. These programs can help students find employment and develop associations within the Phenix City AL welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that begin an educational program and complete it. It's crucial that the welding school you choose has a high completion rate. A low rate may indicate that the students who joined the program were dissatisfied 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 higher job placement rate will not only verify that the program has a good reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of Phenix City AL employer relationships to assist students secure apprenticeships or employment upon graduation.
Modern Equipment and Facilities. Once you have limited your choice of welding schools to 2 or 3 options, 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 trained on are up-to-date. In particular, the training equipment should be comparable to what you will be using in the field. If you are uncertain what to look for, and are currently in an apprenticeship program, ask the master welder you are working under for guidance. Otherwise, ask a local Phenix City AL welding professional if they can give you some pointers.
School Location. Although we previously briefly covered the relevance of location, there are a few additional points that we need to cover. You should remember that unless you can relocate, the welding school you pick needs to be within commuting distance of your Phenix City AL home. If you do choose to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there could be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially the case for welding degree programs offered by community colleges. Also, if the school offers an apprenticeship or job placement program, most likely their placements are within the school's regional community. So the location of the school needs to be in a region or state where you subsequently will wish to work.
Small Classes. One-on-one training is important for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's possible to get lost in larger classes and not get much one-on-one instruction. Ask what the typical class size is for the welder programs you are reviewing. Ask if you can attend some classes so that you can see just how much personal attention the students are getting. While there, speak with some of the students and get their feedback. Also, talk with some of the instructors and ask what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they have earned.
Convenient Class Scheduling. Some people learn a new trade while still working at their current job. Check to see that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing 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 assessing provide those options. If you can only attend part-time, confirm that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the protocol is to make up classes if you you miss any due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
Find the Best Phenix City Welding Course for Certification
Picking the ideal welder school will undoubtedly be the most important decision you will make to start 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 considering. It's a must that any welding school that you are considering includes a considerable amount of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be small in size and each student should have their own welding machine to train on. Classroom education needs to provide a real-world context, and the training program should be current and conform with industry standards. Training programs vary in duration and the kind of credential provided, so you will need to ascertain what length of program and credential will best fulfill your needs. Each training program provides unique options for certification also. Perhaps the best way to research your short list of schools is to go to each campus and talk with the faculty and students. Take the time to attend some classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the school you select is the best one for you. With the proper training, hard work and dedication, the end result will be a new occupation as a professional welder in Phenix City AL.