How to Select the Right Welder Degree Program near Prattville Alabama
Finding the right welding trade school near Prattville AL is an essential first step to launching your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are numerous schools to choose from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more notably, once you have narrowed down your alternatives, how do you pick the right one? Most prospective students begin by reviewing the schools that are nearest to their homes. Once they have found those that are within commuting distance, they gravitate toward the least costly one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are necessary considerations when evaluating welder technical schools, but they are not the only ones. Other considerations 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 sensible to create a list of qualifications that your selected school must have. But before we explore our due diligence checklist, let's cover a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welder Degree and Certificate Training Classes
There are a number of alternatives available to receive training as a welder in a technical or trade 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 programs than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also offered combined with an apprenticeship program. Below are brief summaries of the most typical welding programs available in the Prattville AL area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are generally offered by technical and trade schools and take about one year to complete. They are more hands-on training in nature, fashioned primarily to develop welding skills. They can furnish a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or specialized skills for experienced welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take 2 years to complete and are usually offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology furnishes a more extensive education than the diploma or certificate while still providing the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
Some states and municipalities do have licensing prerequisites for welders, so don't forget to check for your location of future employment. If needed, the welding school you pick should prep you for any licensing examinations that you will have to pass in addition to providing the appropriate training to become a qualified welder.
Welding Certification Options
There are multiple institutions that provide welding certifications, which assess the knowledge and skill level of those applying. Many Prattville AL employers not only demand a certificate or degree from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a renowned organization such as the American Welding Society (AWS). A wide range of certifications are available based on 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 certain types of welds
- Operate according to contract specifications
As formerly stated, various cities, states or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those mandating licensing, many also require certification for different kinds of work. Certification is also a way to prove to employers that you are a highly skilled and experienced welder. So just as with licensing, check the requirements for your location and verify that the welder technical school you choose prepares you for certification as needed.
Points to Ask Welder Vocational Schools
After you have decided on the credential you want to attain, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can begin to compare schools. As you can imagine, there are many welding trade and technical schools in the Prattville AL area. That's why it's important to determine in advance what qualifications your chosen school must have. We have already discussed two important ones that most people look at first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As mentioned, although they are essential qualifiers, they are not the only ones that need to be considered. After all, the school you choose is going to furnish the training that will be the foundation of your new vocation as a welder. So below are more factors you may want to evaluate before selecting a welder tech 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 2 basic kinds of accreditation. The school may attain Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a specific program the school has, such as Welding Technology. So make certain that the program you pick is accredited, not just the school alone. Also, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, like the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). In addition to helping make sure that you receive a quality education, the accreditation can also assist in getting financial aid or student loans, which are frequently unavailable in Prattville AL for schools that are not accredited. Also, for those states or municipalities that require licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited also.
Job Placement and Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous welding diploma or degree programs are provided in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Various other schools will help place 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 assistance program. The schools should have partnerships with local unions and various 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 establish associations within the Prattville AL welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that start an academic program and finish it. It's essential that the welder program you select 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 dropped out. The job placement rate is also a good indicator of the quality of training. A high job placement rate will not only confirm that the school has a good reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of Prattville AL contacts to help students obtain apprenticeships or employment upon graduation.
Modern Equipment and Facilities. After you have limited your choice of welder schools to two or three possibilities, you should think out visiting the campuses to evaluate their facilities. Verify that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be taught on are modern. In particular, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be working with in the field. If you are uncertain what to look for, and are already in an apprenticeship program, ask the master welder you are working under for guidance. If not, ask a local Prattville AL welding contractor if they can give you some tips.
School Location. Even though we previously briefly discussed the importance of location, there are a few additional points that we should address. You should remember that unless you can relocate, the welder program you pick needs to be within driving distance of your Prattville AL home. If you do opt to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation expenses there might be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially true for welding degree programs offered by community colleges. Also, if the school offers an apprenticeship or job placement program, often their placements are within the school's local community. So the location of the school should be in an area or state where you ultimately will want to work.
Small Classes. One-on-one training is essential for a manual trade such as welding. It's possible to be overlooked in bigger classes and not receive much personalized training. Ask what the average class size is for the welder programs you are looking at. Ask if you can attend a few classes so that you can see how much individual attention the students are getting. While there, talk with some of the students and get their feedback. Similarly, speak with some of the instructors and find out what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they have earned.
Convenient Class Scheduling. Lots of folks learn a new trade while still employed at their present job. Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are considering are convenient enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Prattville AL, make certain that the schools you are considering provide those alternatives. If you can only enroll part-time, confirm that the school you choose offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the protocol is to make up classes should you miss any due to illness, work or family circumstances.
Choose the Right Prattville Welding School for Certification
Picking the right welding school will probably be the most important decision you will make to launch your new trade. As we have covered in this article, there are a number of things that you will need to assess and compare among the schools you are considering. It's a prerequisite that any welder training program that you are examining includes a lot of hands-on training. Classes should be small in size and every student should have their personal welding machine to train on. Classroom education should provide a real-world perspective, and the curriculum should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Programs vary 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 different possibilities for certification as well. Perhaps The ideal approach to research your final list of schools is to visit each campus and speak with the faculty and students. Take the time to attend a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the school you pick is the best one for you. With the proper training, effort and dedication, the final outcome will be a new career as a professional welder in Prattville AL.