How to Choose the Best Welder Degree Program near Pleasant Grove Alabama
Finding the right welder school near Pleasant Grove AL is an essential first step to beginning your new occupation 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 notably, once you have fine tuned your choices, how do you pick the right one? A number of prospective students begin by reviewing the schools that are nearest to their homes. Once they have identified those that are within driving distance, they are drawn toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and tuition cost are important considerations when examining welding technical schools, but they are not the only ones. Other factors include such things as reputation, accreditation and job placement rates. So before starting 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 examine our due diligence checklist, let's cover a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welding Certificate and Degree Training Classes
There are several options available to obtain training as a welder in a technical or trade school. You can receive a a certificate, a diploma or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are available in Welding Technology or Welding Engineering, but are more advanced programs than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Below are short explanations of the most common welding programs offered in the Pleasant Grove AL area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are generally offered by technical and trade schools and take about a year to finish. They are more hands-on training in scope, created primarily to develop welding skills. They can provide a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or specialized skills for experienced welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take two years to finish and are most often offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology offers a more extensive education than the certificate or diploma while still furnishing the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
Many municipalities and states do have licensing prerequisites for welders, therefore be sure to check for your location of potential employment. As required, the welder school you pick should ready you for any licensing examinations that you will have to pass in addition to supplying the appropriate training to become a professional welder.
Welder Certification Choices
There are a number of organizations that offer welder certifications, which assess the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Many Pleasant Grove AL employers not only expect a certificate or degree from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a highly regarded organization such as the American Welding Society (AWS). A variety of certifications are offered dependent on the type of work that the welder performs. Some of the skills that certification can attest to are the welder's ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specific metal thicknesses
- Work with various types of welds
- Operate according to contract specifications
As earlier stated, many states, cities or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those requiring licensing, some also require certification for different 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 welder technical school you decide on readies you for certification if needed.
What to Ask Welding Tech Programs
Once you have chosen the credential you want to obtain, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can begin to assess schools. As you probably know, there are numerous welder trade and vocational 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 a couple of important ones that many people consider first, which are location and tuition cost. As mentioned, although they are essential qualifiers, they are not the only ones that must be considered. After all, the school you decide on is going to provide the instruction that will be the foundation of your new vocation as a welder. So below are some additional factors you might want to evaluate before selecting a welding vocational school.
Accreditation. It's very important that the welding trade school you select is accredited by either a national or a regional 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 a specific program the school offers, for example Welding Technology. So make sure that the program you pick 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 get an excellent education, the accreditation can also assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are often not offered in Pleasant Grove AL for non-accredited schools. Also, for those states or municipalities that require licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited as well.
Job Assistance and Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of welder degree or certificate programs are offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Some other schools will help place you in an apprenticeship or a job upon graduation. Ask if the schools you are reviewing help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. These schools should have relationships with local unions and other metal working businesses to which they can place their students. Older schools may have a more substantial network of graduates that they can rely upon for placements. These programs can help students find employment and develop associations within the Pleasant Grove AL welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that begin an instructional program and finish it. It's important that the welding school you pick has a higher completion rate. A lower rate may mean that the students who were in the program were dissatisfied with the training, the teachers, or the facilities, and dropped out. The job placement rate is also an indication of the caliber of training. A high job placement rate will not only affirm that the school has a good reputation within the trade, but additionally that it has the network of Pleasant Grove AL employer relationships to assist students secure apprenticeships or employment after graduation.
Modern Equipment and Facilities. After you have narrowed down your choice of welder programs to two or three possibilities, you should think out visiting 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 similar to what you will be using in the field. If you are uncertain what to look for, and are currently in an apprenticeship program, consult with the master welder you are working under for guidance. Otherwise, ask a local Pleasant Grove AL welding contractor if they can give you a few pointers.
School Location. Even though we already briefly covered the significance of location, there are a couple of additional points that we need to deal with. You should remember that unless you are able to relocate, the welder program you pick must be within commuting distance of your Pleasant Grove AL home. If you do choose to attend an out-of-state school, apart from moving expenses there might be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly the case for welding certificate programs offered by community colleges. Furthermore, if the school provides a job placement or apprenticeship program, often their placements are within the school's local community. So the location of the school should be in a region or state where you ultimately will wish to work.
Smaller Classes. One-on-one instruction is essential for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's easy to be lost in larger classes and not get much one-on-one instruction. Find out what the average class size is for the welding programs you are reviewing. Ask if you can attend a few classes so that you can see just how much personal attention the students are receiving. While there, speak with some of the students and get their evaluations. Also, talk to a few of the teachers and find out what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they have earned.
Flexible Class Scheduling. Lots of folks learn a new profession while still employed at their present job. Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are reviewing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Pleasant Grove AL, verify that the schools you are reviewing offer those choices. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you decide on offers part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the policy is to make up classes if you you miss any because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Find the Best Pleasant Grove Welding Training for Certification
Choosing the ideal welder training program will undoubtedly be the most important decision you will make to launch your new profession. As we have discussed in this article, there are a number of things that you will need to examine and compare between the programs you are reviewing. It's a necessity that any welder training program that you are examining includes a lot of hands-on training. Classes need to be smaller in size and every student must have their own welding machine to train with. Classroom education needs to provide a real-world context, and the training program should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Training programs differ in length and the kind of credential provided, so you will need to ascertain what length of program and certificate or degree will best satisfy your needs. Each program provides unique possibilities for certification as well. Perhaps The ideal way to research your short list of schools is to go to each campus and speak with the teachers and students. Take the time to monitor some classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the school you choose is the best one for you. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, the end result will be a new career as a professional welder in Pleasant Grove AL.