How to Pick the Best Welder Technical School near Pleasant Grove Alabama
Enrolling in the ideal welder school near Pleasant Grove AL is an important 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 notably, once you have narrowed down your alternatives, how do you pick the right one? Many people start by reviewing the schools that are closest to their residences. When they have located those that are within commuting distance, they gravitate toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and tuition cost are important concerns 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 wise to establish a list of qualifications that your chosen school must have. But before we delve into our due diligence checklist, let's cover a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welder Degree and Certificate Training Programs
There are several options available 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 available in Welding Engineering or Welding Technology, but are more advanced courses than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Below are brief summaries of the most common welding programs offered in the Pleasant Grove AL area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are generally offered by trade and technical schools and require about a year to complete. They are more hands-on training in nature, designed largely to develop welding skills. They can provide a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or supplemental skills for working welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take two years to complete and are usually offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology provides a more extensive education than the diploma or certificate while still providing the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
A number of states and municipalities do have licensing requirements for welders, so don't forget to check for your location of potential employment. As required, the welder school you pick should prepare you for any licensing exams that you will need to pass in addition to supplying the appropriate training to become a qualified welder.
Welder Certification Options
There are several institutions that offer welder certifications, which evaluate the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Numerous Pleasant Grove AL employers not only demand a certificate or degree from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a respected agency such as the American Welding Society (AWS). A wide range of certifications are offered based on the type of work that the welder performs. Some of the skills that certification can acknowledge are the welder's ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specified metal thicknesses
- Work with specific types of welds
- Work according to contract specifications
As already mentioned, many cities, states or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those calling for licensing, some additionally require certification for various types of work. Certification is also a means to prove to employers that you are an exceptionally skilled and experienced welder. So just as with licensing, check the requirements for your location and make certain that the welding tech school you select preps you for certification if needed.
What to Ask Welding Technical Programs
Once you have decided on the credential you want to earn, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can start to evaluate schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are many welder vocational and trade schools in the Pleasant Grove AL area. That's why it's important to determine up front what qualifications your selected school must have. We have previously covered two important ones that many people look at first, which are location and tuition cost. As mentioned, although they are very important qualifiers, they are not the only ones that should be considered. After all, the school you choose is going to provide the education that will be the foundation of your new career as a welder. So below are some additional factors you may need to evaluate before picking a welder trade school.
Accreditation. It's extremely important that the welder vocational school you pick is accredited by either a regional or a national organization. There are two 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 offers, for instance Welding Technology. So verify that the program you select is accredited, not just the school itself. Additionally, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, for example the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). In addition to helping ensure that you get a quality education, the accreditation may also assist in securing financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable in Pleasant Grove AL for schools that are not accredited. Also, for those states or municipalities that require licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited also.
Apprenticeship and Job Assistance Programs. Numerous welder certificate or degree programs are provided in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Various other schools will assist in placing 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 placement program. These schools should have partnerships with local unions and various 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 develop relationships within the Pleasant Grove AL welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that enroll in an academic program and finish it. It's crucial that the welding school you pick has a high completion rate. A lower rate could indicate that the students who joined the program were unhappy with the training, the teachers, or the facilities, and quit. The job placement rate is also an indication of the quality of training. A higher job placement rate will not only confirm that the school has a good reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of Pleasant Grove AL employer relationships to assist students secure apprenticeships or employment upon graduation.
Modern Equipment and Facilities. After you have narrowed down your choice of welding programs to two or three possibilities, you should consider visiting the campuses to look over their facilities. Make sure 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 working with on the job. 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 Pleasant Grove AL welding professional if they can give you some tips.
School Location. Although we previously briefly covered the relevance of location, there are a couple of additional issues that we should address. You should bear in mind that unless you can relocate, the welding program you pick needs to be within driving distance of your Pleasant Grove AL home. If you do choose to enroll in an out-of-state school, apart from moving costs there may be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially true for welding degree programs offered by community colleges. Furthermore, 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 should be in an area or state where you subsequently will want to work.
Small Classes. Personalized training is important for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's easy to be overlooked in larger classes and not receive much personalized training. Ask what the typical class size is for the welder programs you are reviewing. Inquire if you can attend a couple of classes so that you can observe how much individual attention the students are receiving. While there, speak with several of the students and get their evaluations. Also, speak with a few of the instructors and ask what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they have earned.
Flexible Class Schedules. Many people learn a new profession while still working at their present job. Check to see that the class schedules for the schools you are considering are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Pleasant Grove AL, make certain that the schools you are assessing 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 if you you miss any because of illness, work or family responsibilities.
Find the Right Pleasant Grove Welding Training for Certification
Choosing the right welding school will probably be the most important decision you will make to launch your new profession. As we have covered in this article, there are many factors that you will need to assess and compare between the programs you are looking at. It's a prerequisite that any welding training that you are considering includes a considerable amount of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be smaller in size and each student must have their personal welding machine to train with. Classroom instruction needs to provide a real-world perspective, and the training program should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Programs differ in duration and the type of credential offered, so you will have to determine what length of program and certificate or degree will best serve your needs. Each training program provides different options for certification also. Perhaps The ideal approach to research your final list of schools is to check out each campus and speak with the teachers and students. Invest some time to attend a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the training program you choose is the best one for you. With the right training, hard work and commitment, the final result will be a new career as a professional welder in Pleasant Grove AL.