How to Enroll In the Best Welder Technical School near Pleasant Grove Alabama
Finding the right welding trade 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 narrowed down your alternatives, how do you select 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 are drawn toward the least expensive one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are crucial concerns when evaluating welding trade schools, but they are not the only ones. Other factors include such things as accreditation, reputation and job placement rates. So before starting your search for a vocational school to become a welder, it's prudent 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 Degree and Certificate Training
There are several options to receive training as a welder in a trade or vocational school. You can receive a diploma, a certificate or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are available in Welding Engineering or Welding Technology, but are more advanced degrees than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Below are brief descriptions of the most typical welding programs available in the Pleasant Grove AL area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are usually made available by trade and technical schools and take about a year to complete. They are more hands-on training in nature, designed largely to teach 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 complete and are most often offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology offers a more well-rounded education than the certificate or diploma while still supplying the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
A number of states and municipalities do have licensing requirements for welders, therefore be sure to check for your location of potential employment. If needed, the welder school you pick should prep you for any licensing examinations that you will need to take in addition to supplying the appropriate training to become a professional welder.
Welding Certification Options
There are a number of institutions that provide welder certifications, which evaluate the skill level and knowledge of those applying. A large number of Pleasant Grove AL employers not only demand a certificate or degree from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a renowned agency like the American Welding Society (AWS). A variety of certifications are offered based upon the kind of work that the welder does. Just some of the things that certification can attest to are the welder's ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with certain metal thicknesses
- Work with various kinds of welds
- Perform in compliance with contract specifications
As earlier stated, many cities, states or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those requiring licensing, many also require certification for various types of work. Certification is also a way to demonstrate to employers that you are an extremely skilled and knowledgeable welder. So similarly as with licensing, check the requirements for your local area and make certain that the welding technical school you select readies you for certification as needed.
Points to Ask Welder Technical Schools
Once you have decided on the credential you would like to attain, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can start to assess schools. As you can imagine, there are a large number of welding trade and technical schools in the Pleasant Grove AL area. That's why it's necessary to determine up front what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have already discussed 2 important ones that most people look at first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As stated, although they are very important qualifications, they are not the only ones that need to be looked at. After all, the school you choose is going to provide the instruction that will be the foundation of your new profession as a welder. So following are more factors you might want to evaluate before picking a welding trade school.
Accreditation. It's essential that the welding tech school you decide on is accredited by either a national or a regional agency. There are 2 basic kinds of accreditation. The school may attain Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a single program the school offers, such as Welding Technology. So verify that the program you choose is accredited, not just the school alone. 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 make sure that you get a superior education, the accreditation can also assist in getting financial assistance or student loans, which are often not available in Pleasant Grove AL for non-accredited schools. Also, for those states or municipalities that require licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited also.
Job Assistance and Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous welder degree or certificate programs are offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Other schools will assist in placing you in an apprenticeship or a job upon graduation. Find out 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 various metal working businesses to which they can refer their students. More established schools may have a larger network of graduates that they can rely upon for placements. 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 percentage of students that start an instructional program and complete it. It's essential that the welder program you choose has a high completion rate. A low rate may mean that the students who enrolled in the program were dissatisfied with the instruction, the teachers, or the facilities, and dropped out. The job placement rate is also a good indicator of the quality of training. A high job placement rate will not only affirm that the school has a good reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of Pleasant Grove AL contacts to help students secure employment or apprenticeships upon graduation.
Up-to-date Equipment and Facilities. Once you have limited your choice of welding programs to 2 or 3 possibilities, you should consider visiting the campuses to look over their facilities. Confirm that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be taught on are modern. Specifically, the training equipment should be comparable to what you will be working with on the job. If you are unsure what to look for, and are already 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 pointers.
School Location. Even though we previously briefly talked about the importance of location, there are a few additional issues that we need to address. You should keep in mind that unless you can relocate, the welder school you choose must be within commuting distance of your Pleasant Grove AL home. If you do decide to attend 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 welder diploma programs offered by community colleges. Additionally, 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 needs to be in an area or state where you subsequently will desire to work.
Small Classes. One-on-one instruction is important for a manual trade such as welding. It's possible to be overlooked in larger classes and not get much personalized training. Ask what the average class size is for the welding schools you are considering. Inquire if you can sit in on a couple of classes so that you can see how much individual attention the students are getting. While there, talk with several of the students and get their feedback. Also, chat with a couple of the instructors and ask what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they have earned.
Convenient Class Scheduling. Lots of folks learn a new profession while still working at their present job. Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are looking at are convenient enough to meet your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Pleasant Grove AL, make certain that the schools you are looking at offer those options. If you can only enroll part-time, confirm that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, check to see what the protocol is to make up classes if you you miss any because of work, sickness or family responsibilities.
Find the Best Pleasant Grove Welding Program for Certification
Choosing the right welder school will undoubtedly be the most critical 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 between the schools you are considering. It's a must that any welding training program that you are assessing includes a lot of hands-on training. Classes need to be smaller in size and each student should have their personal welding machine to train on. Classroom teaching needs to offer a real-world perspective, and the training program should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Programs differ in length and the kind of credential provided, so you will have to determine what length of program and certificate or degree will best fulfill your needs. Each training program offers unique possibilities for certification as well. Perhaps the best approach to research your final list of schools is to go to each campus and speak with the faculty and students. Invest some time to attend some classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the program you decide on is the right one for you. With the right training, effort and dedication, the end result will be a new occupation as a professional welder in Pleasant Grove AL.