How to Find the Right Welder Vocational School near Phenix City Alabama
Selecting the right welder vocational school near Phenix City AL is an essential first step to launching your new career as a professional welder. But since there are a lot of schools to select from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more importantly, once you have fine tuned your choices, how do you select the best one? Most people start by looking at the schools that are nearest to their residences. Once they have found those that are within driving distance, they gravitate toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are necessary concerns when evaluating welding trade schools, but they are not the only ones. Other considerations 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 establish a list of qualifications that your selected school must have. But before we explore our due diligence checklist, let's cover a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welder Degree and Certificate Programs
There are a number of 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 Engineering or Welding Technology, but are more advanced courses than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also offered along with an apprenticeship program. Below are brief descriptions of the most common welding programs available in the Phenix City AL area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are usually made available by trade and technical schools and take 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 supplemental skills for working welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take 2 years to finish and are usually offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology furnishes a more extensive 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 requirements for welders, therefore don't forget to find out for your location of potential employment. As required, the welding school you select should prep you for any licensing examinations that you will need to take in addition to providing the suitable training to become a professional welder.
Welder Certification Alternatives
There are several organizations that provide welding certifications, which test 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 highly regarded organization like the American Welding Society (AWS). A variety of certifications are offered based upon the type of work that the welder does. Some of the skills that certification can acknowledge are the welder's ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with certain metal thicknesses
- Work with certain kinds of welds
- Work in compliance with contract specifications
As already stated, various cities, states or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those mandating licensing, some additionally require certification for various kinds of work. Certification is also a way to demonstrate to employers that you are an extremely skilled and qualified welder. So just as with licensing, check the requirements for your location and make certain that the welding vocational school you decide on readies you for certification as needed.
Questions to Ask Welder Tech Programs
As soon as you have chosen the credential you want to obtain, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can start to assess schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are a large number of welder trade and technical schools in the Phenix City AL area. That's why it's important to decide up front what qualifications your selected school must have. We have previously covered a couple of significant ones that most 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 looked at. After all, the program you decide on is going to provide the education that will be the foundation of your new vocation as a welder. So following are more factors you may need to consider before selecting a welder tech school.
Accreditation. It's essential that the welding tech school you decide on is accredited by either a regional or a national agency. There are 2 basic 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 certain that the program you choose 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 ensure that you receive an excellent education, the accreditation might also help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases not available in Phenix City AL for schools that are not accredited. Finally, for those states or local governments that mandate licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited also.
Apprenticeship and Job Placement Programs. Numerous welding diploma or degree programs are offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Some other schools will assist in placing you in an apprenticeship or a job upon graduation. Ask if the schools you are considering assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. These schools must have partnerships with local unions and various metal working businesses to which they can place their students. More established schools may have a more substantial network of graduates that they can rely upon for placements. These programs can assist students in finding employment and develop relationships within the Phenix City AL welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that enroll in an academic program and finish it. It's crucial that the welder school you choose has a high completion rate. A low rate could signify that the students who joined the program were dissatisfied with the training, the teachers, 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 a good reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of Phenix City AL employer relationships to assist students secure employment or apprenticeships upon graduation.
Up-to-date Equipment and Facilities. Once you have limited your selection of welder programs to two or three options, you should consider going to the campuses to inspect their facilities. Verify that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be taught 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 already in an apprenticeship program, consult with the master welder you are working under for guidance. Otherwise, ask a local Phenix City AL welding professional if they can give you some suggestions.
School Location. Even though we already briefly talked about the importance of location, there are a couple of additional issues that we need to deal with. You should keep in mind that unless you are able to relocate, the welding school you choose needs to be within commuting distance of your Phenix City AL home. If you do opt to attend an out-of-state school, besides moving expenses there could be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially true for welding certificate programs offered by community colleges. Also, if the school provides a job placement or apprenticeship program, most likely their placements are within the school's local community. So the location of the school should be in an area or state where you subsequently will want to work.
Small Classes. One-on-one training is important for a manual trade such as welding. It's possible to get overlooked in larger classes and not obtain much one-on-one training. Find out what the average class size is for the welder programs you are looking at. Ask if you can attend some classes so that you can observe how much personal attention the students are getting. While there, talk with several of the students and get their feedback. Also, talk to a few of the trainers and find out what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they have earned.
Convenient Class Schedules. Many people learn a new profession while still working at their current job. Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are looking at are convenient enough to meet your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Phenix City AL, make certain that the schools you are assessing offer those choices. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you choose offers part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the protocol is to make up classes should you miss any due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Find the Right Phenix City Welding Training for Certification
Picking the ideal welding school will undoubtedly be the most important decision you will make to start your new profession. As we have discussed in this article, there are a number of things that you will need to assess and compare between the schools you are looking at. It's a necessity that any welder training program that you are reviewing includes a considerable amount of hands-on instruction. Classes should be small in size and each student must have their personal welding machine to train with. Classroom instruction needs to provide a real-world context, and the course of study should be current and in-line with industry standards. Programs differ in duration and the type of credential offered, so you will need to determine what length of program and certificate or degree will best fulfill your needs. Each training program provides unique possibilities for certification as well. Perhaps the best means to research your final list of schools is to go to each campus and speak with the students and faculty. Invest some time to sit in on a few classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the program you decide on is the right one for you. With the proper training, hard work and dedication, the end result will be a new career as a professional welder in Phenix City AL.