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How to Choose the Best Welding Certification Classes near Pleasant Grove Alabama

Pleasant Grove Alabama construction welder on the jobLocating the right welding technical school near Pleasant Grove AL is an important 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 know which ones to consider? And more notably, once you have fine tuned your alternatives, how do you pick the right one? Most prospective students begin by reviewing the schools that are nearest to their residences. When they have found those that are within commuting distance, they gravitate toward the least costly one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are important issues when evaluating welding vocational schools, but they are not the only ones. Other considerations 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 sensible to establish a list of qualifications that your selected school must have. But before we explore our due diligence checklist, let's talk a little bit about how to become a welder.

Welder Certificate and Degree Training Classes

Pleasant Grove Alabama welder welding in fabrication shop

There are a number of options to get 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 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 short descriptions of the most common welding programs available in the Pleasant Grove AL area.

  • Certificate and Diploma Programs are normally offered by trade and technical schools and take about a year to complete. They are more hands-on training in scope, created mainly to teach 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 2 years to complete and are usually offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology offers a more extensive education than the diploma or certificate while still furnishing the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.

Some states and municipalities do have licensing prerequisites for welders, therefore make sure to check for your location of future employment. If required, the welding school you choose should prep you for any licensing exams that you will need to take in addition to providing the suitable training to become a professional welder.

Welder Certification Alternatives

Pleasant Grove Alabama welder welding metal table

There are various institutions that provide welder certifications, which test the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Numerous Pleasant Grove AL employers not only expect a degree or certificate from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a renowned organization like the American Welding Society (AWS). A wide range of certifications are offered based upon the type of work that the welder performs. A few of the skills that certification can acknowledge are the welder's ability to

  • Operate in compliance with specific codes
  • Work with specific metal thicknesses
  • Work with various kinds of welds
  • Perform according to contract specifications

As formerly mentioned, various cities, states or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those mandating licensing, some additionally require certification for different kinds of work. Certification is also a means to prove to employers that you are a highly skilled and qualified welder. So just as with licensing, look into the requirements for your local area and verify that the welding technical school you choose preps you for certification as needed.

Points to Ask Welder Trade Schools

Pleasant Grove Alabama electrician welding metal electrical pole

After you have chosen the credential you would like to obtain, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can begin to evaluate schools. As you probably know, there are many welder vocational and trade schools in the Pleasant Grove AL area. That's why it's necessary to decide up front what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have already discussed 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 must be considered. After all, the school you pick is going to provide the education that will be the foundation of your new career as a welder. So following are some additional factors you may need to evaluate before choosing a welder technical school.

Accreditation. It's essential that the welder vocational school you select is accredited by either a regional or a national agency. There are two standard types of accreditation. The school may attain Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on an individual program the school offers, such as Welding Technology. So confirm that the program you choose is accredited, not just the school alone. Also, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, such as the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). In addition to helping ensure that you obtain a quality education, the accreditation can also assist in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not offered in Pleasant Grove AL for non-accredited schools. Finally, for those states or local governments that mandate licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited as well.

Job Assistance and Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous welding degree or diploma programs are provided in conjunction 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 reviewing help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. These schools should have associations with local unions and other metal working businesses to which they can place their students. Older schools may have a larger network of graduates that they can utilize for referrals. These programs can help students find employment and develop relationships within the Pleasant Grove AL welding community.

Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that start an educational program and finish it. It's important that the welder school you choose has a high completion rate. A lower rate may mean that the students who were in the program were unhappy with the instruction, the instructors, or the facilities, and quit. 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 help students obtain employment or apprenticeships upon graduation.

Up-to-date Equipment and Facilities. Once you have narrowed down your choice of welding schools to 2 or 3 possibilities, you should consider visiting the campuses to inspect their facilities. Make sure 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 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. If not, ask a local Pleasant Grove AL welding contractor if they can give you some tips.

School Location. Although we previously briefly talked about the significance of location, there are a few additional issues that we should cover. You should remember that unless you are able to move, the welder program you choose needs to be within commuting distance of your Pleasant Grove AL home. If you do decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides moving costs there could be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially the case for welding diploma programs offered by community colleges. Furthermore, if the school provides a job placement or apprenticeship program, often their placements are within the school's regional community. So the location of the school should be in an area or state where you ultimately will wish to work.

Small Classes. One-on-one training is essential for a manual trade such as welding. It's possible to get lost in larger classes and not obtain much individualized instruction. Find out what the usual class size is for the welder schools you are considering. Inquire if you can sit in on some classes so that you can experience how much individual attention the students are receiving. While there, speak with a few of the students and get their opinions. Similarly, chat with a few of the instructors and ask what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they have earned.

Flexible Class Schedules. Some people learn a new trade while still working at their present job. Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are reviewing are convenient enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Pleasant Grove AL, make sure that the schools you are assessing provide those options. If you can only attend part-time, verify that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, check to see what the policy is to make up classes should you miss any because of illness, work or family circumstances.

Learn More About Pleasant Grove Welding Vocational Schools

Find the Best Pleasant Grove Welding School for Certification

Selecting the ideal welder training program will probably be the most important decision you will make to start your new career. As we have addressed in this article, there are several things that you will need to examine and compare among the programs you are considering. It's a must that any welder school that you are examining includes a considerable amount of hands-on training. Classes need to be small in size and every student must have their own welding machine to train on. Classroom instruction should provide a real-world frame of reference, and the course of study should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Courses vary in length and the kind of credential offered, so you will need to determine what length of program and degree or certificate will best serve your needs. Each training program offers different possibilities for certification also. Probably the best approach to research your short list of schools is to check out each campus and speak with the students and instructors. Invest some time to sit in on some classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the training program you pick is the right one for you. With the right training, hard work and dedication, the final outcome will be a new trade as a professional welder in Pleasant Grove AL.

 

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