How to Enroll In the Right Welding Training Classes near Pinson Alabama
Choosing the ideal welder vocational school near Pinson AL is an essential first step to beginning your new occupation 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 alternatives, how do you select the best one? Most people start by looking at the schools that are closest to their homes. When they have identified those that are within commuting distance, they gravitate toward the least costly one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are important concerns when evaluating welder technical schools, but they are not the only ones. Other concerns include such things as reputation, accreditation and job placement rates. So before initiating 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 delve into our due diligence checklist, let's talk a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welding Degree and Certificate Training Programs
There are several options available to receive training as a welder in a trade or vocational school. You can obtain 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 explanations of the most prevalent welding programs offered in the Pinson AL area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are usually offered by technical and trade schools and take about 1 year to complete. They are more hands-on training in scope, fashioned largely to develop welding skills. They can furnish a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or supplemental skills for experienced welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take 2 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 furnishing the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
Many states and municipalities do have licensing prerequisites for welders, so don't forget to check for your location of future employment. As needed, the welding school you select should ready you for any licensing exams that you will have to pass in addition to supplying the suitable training to become a qualified welder.
Welding Certification Options
There are several institutions that provide welding certifications, which assess the knowledge and skill level of those applying. A large number of Pinson AL employers not only expect a certificate or degree from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a highly regarded agency like the American Welding Society (AWS). A wide range of certifications are available based upon the kind of work that the welder performs. A few of the things 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 kinds of welds
- Perform based on contract specifications
As already stated, many cities, states or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those mandating licensing, a number additionally require certification for various types 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 local area and confirm that the welder technical school you decide on prepares you for certification if needed.
What to Ask Welder Technical Schools
When 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 technical schools in the Pinson AL area. That's why it's important to decide up front what qualifications your selected school must have. We have previously discussed two important ones that many people look at first, which are location and tuition cost. As stated, although they are very important qualifications, they are not the only ones that need to be considered. After all, the program you choose is going to furnish the training that will be the foundation of your new vocation as a welder. So following are more factors you might want to consider before choosing a welding vocational school.
Accreditation. It's essential that the welder technical school you decide on is accredited by either a national or a regional organization. There are two standard types of accreditation. The school may receive Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a single program the school has, for example Welding Technology. So make certain 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 agency, for example 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 assist in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are often not available in Pinson AL for schools that are not accredited. Also, for those states or local governments that mandate licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited as well.
Apprenticeship and Job Assistance Programs. A large number of welder degree or certificate programs are provided combined with an apprenticeship program. Other schools will assist in placing you in an apprenticeship or a job after graduation. Ask if the schools you are considering assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. The schools must have associations 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 rely upon for placements. These programs can assist students in finding employment and develop relationships within the Pinson AL welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that start an educational program and finish it. It's important that the welding program you pick has a high completion rate. A lower rate may mean that the students who enrolled in the program were unhappy 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 high job placement rate will not only verify that the program has an excellent reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of Pinson AL employer relationships to assist students obtain employment or apprenticeships upon graduation.
Modern Facilities and Equipment. Once you have decreased your selection of welder programs to two or three options, you should consider visiting the campuses to look over their facilities. Verify that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be trained on are modern. In particular, the training equipment should be comparable to what you will be using in the field. 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. If not, ask a local Pinson AL welding contractor if they can give you some tips.
School Location. Even though we already briefly talked about the importance of location, there are a couple of additional issues that we should cover. You should remember that unless you are able to move, the welder program you pick must be within driving distance of your Pinson AL home. If you do choose to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides relocation expenses there could be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly true for welding diploma programs offered by community colleges. Also, if the school provides a job placement or apprenticeship program, more than likely 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 subsequently will desire to work.
Small Classes. One-on-one training is important for a manual trade such as welding. It's possible to be lost in larger classes and not get much individualized instruction. Find out what the typical class size is for the welding schools you are looking at. Inquire if you can sit in on a couple of classes so that you can experience just how much individual attention the students are receiving. While there, talk with a few of the students and get their opinions. Similarly, talk to a few of the trainers and ask what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they have earned.
Flexible Class Scheduling. Many people learn a new profession while still employed at their present job. Check to see that the class schedules for the schools you are reviewing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Pinson AL, confirm that the schools you are reviewing offer those alternatives. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, check to see what the protocol is to make up classes should you miss any due to illness, work or family responsibilities.
Find the Right Pinson Welding Course for Certification
Choosing the right welding school will probably be the most important decision you will make to begin your new profession. As we have covered in this article, there are many things that you will need to examine and compare among the programs you are looking at. It's a prerequisite that any welder training program that you are reviewing includes a lot of hands-on instruction. Classes should be smaller in size and each student must have their own welding machine to train with. Classroom education needs to provide a real-world context, and the curriculum should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Courses vary in length and the kind of credential provided, so you will have to ascertain what length of program and certificate or degree will best fulfill your needs. Each training program provides unique possibilities for certification also. Probably the best way to research your final list of schools is to go to each campus and talk with the students and faculty. Invest some time to attend some classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the school you decide on is the best one for you. With the right training, effort and dedication, the final result will be a new career as a professional welder in Pinson AL.