How to Choose the Right Welder Training Program near Pike Road Alabama
Finding the ideal welder vocational school near Pike Road AL is an important first step to launching your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are numerous schools to select from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more importantly, once you have narrowed down your alternatives, how do you select the best one? Many prospective students start by checking out the schools that are nearest to their residences. When they have found those that are within driving distance, they are drawn toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are crucial issues when reviewing welding trade schools, but they are not the only ones. Other factors 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 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.
Welder Degree and Certificate Programs
There are a number of options to obtain training as a welder in a trade or vocational school. You can receive a diploma, a certificate 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. Following are short summaries of the most prevalent welding programs offered in the Pike Road AL area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are generally made available by technical and trade schools and take about a year to finish. They are more hands-on training in scope, designed largely to develop 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 finish 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 furnishing the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
Many municipalities and states do have licensing requirements for welders, so make sure to find out for your location of potential employment. As needed, the welder school you select should prepare you for any licensing examinations that you will have to pass in addition to furnishing the suitable training to become a professional welder.
Welding Certification Choices
There are several institutions that provide welding certifications, which evaluate the knowledge and skill level of those applying. Numerous Pike Road AL employers not only expect a certificate or degree from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a highly regarded agency such as the American Welding Society (AWS). A wide range of certifications are available based on the type of work that the welder performs. A few 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
- Operate in compliance with contract specifications
As earlier stated, some cities, states or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those requiring licensing, a number additionally require certification for different types of work. Certification is also a means to prove to employers that you are an exceptionally skilled and knowledgeable welder. So just as with licensing, look into the requirements for your location and verify that the welding vocational school you select readies you for certification as needed.
Questions to Ask Welding Tech Programs
After you have decided on the credential you would like to attain, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can begin to evaluate schools. As you can imagine, there are a large number of welder vocational and trade schools in the Pike Road AL area. That's why it's necessary to decide in advance what qualifications your selected school must have. We have already discussed a couple of important ones that many people consider first, which are location and tuition cost. As stated, although they are essential qualifiers, they are not the only ones that should be considered. After all, the program you choose is going to provide the education that will be the foundation of your new career as a welder. So following are more factors you might want to evaluate before choosing a welding tech school.
Accreditation. It's extremely important that the welder technical school you pick is accredited by either a national or a regional organization. There are two basic kinds of accreditation. The school may receive Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a single program the school offers, for instance Welding Technology. So make sure that the program you select 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). In addition to helping ensure that you obtain an excellent education, the accreditation might also assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not offered in Pike Road AL for non-accredited schools. Finally, for those states or local governments that require licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited also.
Apprenticeship and Job Assistance Programs. Many welder degree or diploma programs are offered combined 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 considering 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. More established schools may have a more substantial network of graduates that they can utilize for placements. These programs can help students find employment and establish associations within the Pike Road AL welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that enroll in an educational program and finish it. It's important that the welding school you select has a higher completion rate. A lower rate could indicate that the students who joined the program were dissatisfied with the instruction, the instructors, or the facilities, and quit. The job placement rate is also a good indicator of the caliber of training. A higher job placement rate will not only affirm that the program has a good reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of Pike Road AL contacts to help students secure apprenticeships or employment after graduation.
Up-to-date Facilities and Equipment. Once you have narrowed down your choice of welding programs to 2 or 3 possibilities, you should consider going to the campuses to evaluate their facilities. Confirm that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are up-to-date. Specifically, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be using in the field. If you are unsure 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 Pike Road AL welding contractor if they can give you some tips.
School Location. Even though we already briefly talked about the relevance of location, there are a couple of additional points that we need to deal with. You should remember that unless you are able to move, the welding program you pick needs to be within driving distance of your Pike Road AL home. If you do choose to enroll in an out-of-state school, apart from relocation expenses there could be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially the case for welder certificate programs offered by community colleges. Additionally, if the school offers an apprenticeship or job placement program, more than likely their placements are within the school's regional community. So the location of the school needs to be in an area or state where you subsequently will wish to work.
Smaller Classes. Personalized training is essential for a manual trade such as welding. It's possible to get lost in larger classes and not receive much one-on-one instruction. Find out what the typical class size is for the welding schools you are reviewing. Inquire if you can attend a couple of classes so that you can witness how much personal attention the students are receiving. While there, talk with several of the students and get their evaluations. Similarly, chat with some of the trainers and find out what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they have earned.
Flexible Class Scheduling. Lots of folks learn a new trade while still working at their present job. Make sure that the class schedules for the schools you are reviewing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Pike Road AL, verify that the schools you are considering offer those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, confirm that the school you choose offers part-time enrollment. Also, check to see what the policy is to make up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family emergencies.
Find the Best Pike Road Welding Course for Certification
Choosing the ideal welder school will undoubtedly be the most critical decision you will make to start your new career. As we have addressed in this article, there are a number of factors that you will need to assess and compare among the schools you are looking at. It's a necessity that any welder training program that you are evaluating includes a lot of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be smaller in size and every student should have their own welding machine to train with. Classroom teaching needs to offer a real-world frame of reference, and the course of study should be current and conform with industry standards. Training programs vary in length and the kind of credential offered, so you will have to determine what length of program and degree or certificate will best satisfy your needs. Every training program offers unique options for certification also. Perhaps the best approach to research your final list of schools is to go to each campus and talk with the faculty and students. Invest some time to monitor some classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the training program you pick is the best one for you. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, the end outcome will be a new trade as a professional welder in Pike Road AL.