How to Choose the Right Welder Trade School near Prattville Alabama
Choosing the right welding technical school near Prattville AL is an essential first step to launching your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are so many schools to choose from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more notably, once you have fine tuned your choices, how do you pick the right one? Many people start by checking out the schools that are nearest to their homes. Once they have identified those that are within driving distance, they are drawn toward the least costly one. Yes, location and tuition cost are necessary concerns when reviewing welder 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 trade school to become a welder, it's sensible to create a list of qualifications that your chosen school must have. But before we delve into our due diligence checklist, let's talk a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welder Certificate and Degree Training Courses
There are several options available to obtain training as a welder in a technical or trade school. You can earn 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 made available in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Following are short explanations of the most prevalent welding programs available in the Prattville AL area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are usually made available by trade and technical schools and require about 1 year to finish. They are more hands-on training in nature, fashioned mainly to develop welding skills. They can furnish a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or supplemental skills for working welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take 2 years to finish and are most often offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology offers a more extensive education than the diploma or certificate while still providing the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
Many municipalities and states do have licensing prerequisites for welders, so be sure to find out for your location of potential employment. As needed, the welder school you pick should ready you for any licensing exams that you will need to pass in addition to supplying the suitable training to become a qualified welder.
Welding Certification Options
There are a number of institutions that provide welder certifications, which evaluate the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Many Prattville AL employers not only require a certificate or degree from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a respected agency such as the American Welding Society (AWS). A wide range of certifications are available based upon the type of work that the welder does. A few of the skills that certification can acknowledge are the welder's ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specific metal thicknesses
- Work with various kinds of welds
- Perform based on contract specifications
As already mentioned, various cities, states or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those requiring licensing, some additionally require certification for different types 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 local area and verify that the welding tech school you decide on readies you for certification as needed.
Questions to Ask Welder Tech Programs
After you have decided on the credential you would like to earn, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can begin to compare schools. As you can imagine, there are numerous welding trade and vocational schools in the Prattville AL area. That's why it's essential to determine in advance what qualifications your chosen school must have. We have already discussed 2 significant ones that most people consider first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As mentioned, although they are very important qualifiers, they are not the only ones that should be looked at. After all, the program you pick is going to furnish the instruction that will be the foundation of your new profession as a welder. So following are more factors you might need to evaluate before selecting a welding vocational school.
Accreditation. It's essential that the welding technical school you choose is accredited by either a regional or a national organization. There are two 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, for example Welding Technology. So make certain 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, for example 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 may also help in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases not available in Prattville AL for schools that are not accredited. Finally, for those states or local governments that mandate licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited as well.
Job Placement and Apprenticeship Programs. Many welder diploma or degree programs are offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Other schools will help place you in an apprenticeship or a job after graduation. Ask if the schools you are looking at help 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. More established schools may have a larger network of graduates that they can utilize for referrals. These programs can assist students in finding employment and develop relationships within the Prattville AL welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that begin an instructional program and complete it. It's important that the welding program you choose has a higher completion rate. A lower rate may indicate that the students who were in the program were unhappy with the training, the instructors, or the facilities, and dropped out. The job placement rate is also a good indicator of the caliber of training. A high job placement rate will not only affirm that the program has an excellent reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of Prattville AL employer relationships to assist students obtain employment or apprenticeships upon graduation.
Modern Facilities and Equipment. Once you have limited your choice of welder schools to two or three possibilities, you should think out visiting the campuses to inspect their facilities. Make sure that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be trained on are up-to-date. Specifically, the training equipment should be comparable to what you will be using in the field. If you are uncertain what to look for, and are already in an apprenticeship program, consult with the master welder you are working under for guidance. Otherwise, ask a local Prattville AL welding contractor if they can give you a few tips.
School Location. Even though we already briefly covered the relevance of location, there are a couple of additional issues that we need to address. You should remember that unless you are able to move, the welding school you choose must be within commuting distance of your Prattville AL home. If you do choose to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there may be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly the case for welding diploma programs offered by community colleges. Additionally, if the school offers an apprenticeship or job placement program, more than likely 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 want to work.
Smaller Classes. Individualized training is essential for a manual trade such as welding. It's easy to be overlooked in bigger classes and not receive much one-on-one training. Ask what the average class size is for the welding schools you are considering. Ask if you can sit in on a couple of classes so that you can witness how much personal attention the students are receiving. While there, talk with some of the students and get their opinions. Similarly, talk with a couple of the trainers and ask what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they hold.
Flexible Class Schedules. Lots of folks learn a new trade while still employed at their current job. Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are considering are flexible enough to satisfy your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Prattville AL, verify that the schools you are considering offer those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you choose offers part-time enrollment. Also, check to see what the policy is to make up classes if you you miss any because of work, sickness or family emergencies.
Find the Right Prattville Welding Course for Certification
Picking the best welding training program will probably be the most important decision you will make to begin your new trade. As we have discussed in this article, there are several things that you will need to assess and compare among the schools you are looking at. It's a must that any welding training program that you are assessing includes a lot of hands-on training. Classes should be small in size and each student should have their personal welding machine to train on. Classroom instruction should offer a real-world frame of reference, and the curriculum should be current and conform with industry standards. Programs differ in length and the type of credential offered, so you will have to determine what length of program and degree or certificate will best serve your needs. Every program offers unique options for certification also. Probably the best way to research your final list of schools is to check out each campus and talk with the faculty and students. Invest some time to monitor some classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the training program you decide on is the right one for you. With the right training, hard work and commitment, the final result will be a new trade as a professional welder in Prattville AL.