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How to Pick the Best Welder Certification Classes near Prattville Alabama

Prattville Alabama construction welder at work siteLocating the ideal welder technical school near Prattville AL is an important first step to beginning 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 significantly, once you have narrowed down your alternatives, how do you select the best one? Most prospective students begin by looking at the schools that are closest to their residences. Once they have located those that are within commuting distance, they are drawn toward the least costly one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are important concerns when evaluating welder vocational schools, but they are not the only ones. Other concerns include such things as reputation, accreditation and job placement rates. So before beginning your search for a vocational school to become a welder, it's sensible to create a list of qualifications that your selected school must have. But before we examine our due diligence checklist, let's cover a little bit about how to become a welder.

Welder Degree and Certificate Training

Prattville Alabama welder welding in fabrication shop

There are multiple options 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 offered in Welding Technology or Welding Engineering, 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 Prattville AL area.

  • Diploma and Certificate Programs are usually offered by trade and technical schools and require about 1 year to finish. They are more hands-on training in scope, created primarily to teach welding skills. They can furnish a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or supplemental skills for experienced welders.
  • Associate Degree Programs will take two years to complete and are usually offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology offers a more extensive education than the certificate or diploma while still providing the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.

A number of municipalities and states do have licensing requirements for welders, so make sure to check for your location of future employment. As needed, the welding school you select should ready you for any licensing examinations that you will have to take in addition to supplying the appropriate training to become a qualified welder.

Welder Certification Choices

Prattville Alabama welder welding metal frame

There are various organizations that provide welder certifications, which test 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 highly regarded organization such as the American Welding Society (AWS). Different certifications are offered based on the type of work that the welder does. Some of the skills that certification can attest to are the welder's ability to

  • Work in compliance with specific codes
  • Work with specified metal thicknesses
  • Work with certain kinds of welds
  • Perform based on contract specifications

As formerly mentioned, many cities, states or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those requiring licensing, a number also require certification for different kinds of work. Certification is also a way to demonstrate to employers that you are an extremely skilled and experienced welder. So just as with licensing, look into the requirements for your location and make sure that the welding technical school you decide on preps you for certification as needed.

Points to Ask Welding Vocational Programs

Prattville Alabama welder welding electrical beam

As soon as you have chosen the credential you would like to obtain, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can start to assess schools. As you can imagine, there are many welder vocational and trade schools in the Prattville AL area. That's why it's important to decide up front what qualifications your selected school must have. We have already discussed 2 important ones that most people look at first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As mentioned, although they are essential qualifications, they are not the only ones that must be looked at. After all, the program you choose is going to provide the instruction that will be the foundation of your new profession as a welder. So following are some additional factors you might want to evaluate before selecting a welder trade school.

Accreditation. It's essential that the welder tech school you choose is accredited by either a national or a regional organization. There are two standard types of accreditation. The school may attain Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a single program the school has, for instance Welding Technology. So verify that the program you pick is accredited, not just the school alone. Additionally, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, such as the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping make sure that you get an excellent education, the accreditation may also assist in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are often not available in Prattville AL for schools that are not accredited. Finally, for those states or local governments that require licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited as well.

Apprenticeship and Job Placement Programs. Numerous welding degree or diploma programs are offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Various other schools will assist in placing you in a job or an apprenticeship upon graduation. Ask if the schools you are reviewing assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. These schools must have relationships with local unions and other metal working businesses to which they can place their students. More established 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 Prattville AL welding community.

Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that enroll in an educational program and complete it. It's crucial that the welding program you choose has a higher completion rate. A low rate might mean that the students who enrolled in the program were unhappy with the training, the instructors, or the facilities, and quit. The job placement rate is also a good indicator of the caliber of training. A higher job placement rate will not only affirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of Prattville AL employer relationships to help students secure employment or apprenticeships upon graduation.

Modern Equipment and Facilities. Once you have decreased your choice of welding schools to two or three options, you should consider going to the campuses to look over their facilities. Make sure that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are modern. Specifically, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be working with in the field. 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. If not, ask a local Prattville AL welding professional if they can give you a few pointers.

School Location. Although we already 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 have the ability to relocate, the welding school you pick must be within commuting distance of your Prattville AL home. If you do decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides moving costs there may be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly true for welder 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 needs to be in an area or state where you ultimately will want to work.

Smaller Classes. Personalized training is essential for a manual trade such as welding. It's possible to get lost in larger classes and not get much personalized training. Ask what the typical class size is for the welder schools you are considering. Inquire if you can sit in on a couple of classes so that you can observe just how much individual attention the students are receiving. While there, speak with a few of the students and get their feedback. Also, talk to some of the teachers and find out what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they have earned.

Flexible Class Scheduling. Some people learn a new trade while still employed at their present job. Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are convenient enough to satisfy your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Prattville AL, make certain that the schools you are considering provide those choices. If you can only attend part-time, verify that the school you choose offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the protocol is to make up classes if you you miss any because of illness, work or family emergencies.

Find out More About Prattville Welder Vocational Schools

Find the Right Prattville Welding Program for Certification

Choosing the ideal welder school will undoubtedly be the most important decision you will make to start your new career. As we have covered in this article, there are many factors that you will need to evaluate and compare among the schools you are considering. It's a prerequisite that any welding training that you are assessing includes a lot of hands-on instruction. Classes should be small in size and each student must have their personal welding machine to train on. Classroom instruction needs to offer a real-world frame of reference, and the course of study should be current and conform with industry standards. Courses differ in length and the kind of credential offered, so you will have to ascertain what length of program and degree or certificate will best fulfill your needs. Each program offers unique options for certification as well. Perhaps The ideal way to research your short list of schools is to visit each campus and talk with the faculty and students. Take the time to attend some classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the school you choose is the best one for you. With the right training, hard work and dedication, the final result will be a new career as a professional welder in Prattville AL.

 

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