How to Find the Right Welding Vocational School near Prattville Alabama
Locating the ideal welder school near Prattville AL is an essential first step to starting your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are so many schools to choose from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more significantly, once you have fine tuned your alternatives, how do you select the best one? A number of people begin by reviewing the schools that are closest to their residences. Once they have identified those that are within driving distance, they are drawn toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are crucial considerations when examining welding vocational schools, but they are not the only ones. Other concerns include such things as accreditation, reputation and job placement rates. So before initiating your search for a vocational school to become a welder, it's sensible to create a list of qualifications that your chosen school must have. But before we examine our due diligence checklist, let's talk a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welder Degree and Certificate Training Programs
There are multiple alternatives available to obtain training as a welder in a technical or trade school. You can obtain a diploma, a certificate or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are offered in Welding Engineering or Welding Technology, but are more advanced programs than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available combined with an apprenticeship program. Below are brief explanations of the most typical welding programs available in the Prattville AL area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are normally made available by trade and technical schools and take about one year to complete. They are more hands-on training in nature, fashioned largely 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 two years to complete and are usually offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology provides a more extensive education than the diploma or certificate while still providing the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
Many municipalities and states do have licensing prerequisites for welders, therefore be sure to check for your location of future employment. As required, the welder school you select should ready you for any licensing examinations that you will need to pass in addition to providing the proper training to become a qualified welder.
Welding Certification Options
There are several organizations that offer welder certifications, which assess the skill level and knowledge of those applying. A large number of Prattville AL employers not only demand a certificate or degree from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a highly regarded agency such as the American Welding Society (AWS). Different certifications are available based upon the type of work that the welder performs. Some of the skills that certification can acknowledge are the welder's ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specified metal thicknesses
- Work with specific kinds of welds
- Operate based on contract specifications
As formerly mentioned, many states, cities or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those calling for licensing, some also require certification for different types of work. Certification is also a way to demonstrate to employers that you are an extremely skilled and qualified welder. So just as with licensing, check the requirements for your location and verify that the welding trade school you select prepares you for certification as needed.
Points to Ask Welder Vocational Schools
When you have chosen the credential you would like to attain, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can begin to assess schools. As you probably know, there are many welder vocational and trade schools in the Prattville AL area. That's why it's essential to establish up front what qualifications your chosen school must have. We have previously discussed a couple of important ones that most people consider first, which are location and tuition cost. As stated, although they are very important qualifiers, they are not the only ones that need to be considered. After all, the program you choose is going to furnish the instruction that will be the foundation of your new profession as a welder. So below are more factors you may want to consider before choosing a welder tech school.
Accreditation. It's very important that the welding trade school you pick is accredited by either a regional or a national 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 an individual program the school has, such as Welding Technology. So verify that the program you choose is accredited, not just the school itself. Additionally, 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). Besides helping make sure that you get a quality education, the accreditation might also assist in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases not offered in Prattville AL for schools that are not accredited. Also, for those states or municipalities that require licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited as well.
Apprenticeship and Job Placement Programs. Many welder degree or certificate programs are provided combined with an apprenticeship program. Some other schools will help place you in a job or an apprenticeship after graduation. Find out if the schools you are reviewing help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. These schools should have partnerships with local unions and various metal working businesses to which they can refer their students. More established schools may have a more substantial network of graduates that they can rely upon for referrals. These programs can help students find employment and establish relationships within the Prattville AL welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that start an academic program and finish it. It's important that the welder program you select has a higher completion rate. A reduced rate might indicate that the students who enrolled in the program were dissatisfied with the instruction, the teachers, or the facilities, and quit. 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 a good reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of Prattville AL contacts to assist students secure employment or apprenticeships upon graduation.
Up-to-date Equipment and Facilities. Once you have narrowed down your choice of welding programs to 2 or 3 possibilities, you should think out going to the campuses to look over 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 comparable to what you will be using 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. If not, ask a local Prattville AL welding contractor if they can give you a few pointers.
School Location. Although we already briefly covered the relevance of location, there are a couple of additional issues that we should cover. You should keep in mind that unless you can relocate, the welding program you select must be within commuting distance of your Prattville AL home. If you do decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, apart from relocation costs there could be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially true for welding degree programs offered by community colleges. Furthermore, if the school offers 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 desire to work.
Smaller Classes. Individualized training is important for a manual trade such as welding. It's easy to get lost in larger classes and not get much individualized instruction. Ask what the usual class size is for the welding schools you are looking at. Inquire if you can attend a couple of classes so that you can see just how much individual attention the students are getting. While there, talk with several of the students and get their opinions. Also, speak with a couple of the teachers and find out what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they have earned.
Flexible Class Schedules. Lots of folks learn a new trade while still employed at their present job. Check to see that the class schedules for the programs you are considering are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Prattville AL, verify that the schools you are considering provide those options. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the school you pick offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the policy is to make up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
Find the Right Prattville Welding Training for Certification
Picking the right welding school will probably be the most critical decision you will make to launch your new profession. As we have covered in this article, there are several things that you will need to examine and compare between the programs you are looking at. It's a necessity that any welder training program that you are examining includes a good deal of hands-on training. Classes should be small in size and every student must have their own welding machine to train with. Classroom education should offer a real-world context, and the training program should be current and in-line with industry standards. Training programs vary in duration and the type of credential provided, so you will need to ascertain what length of program and credential will best serve your needs. Every training program offers unique possibilities for certification also. Probably the best way to research your short list of schools is to visit each campus and speak with the students and instructors. Take the time to monitor some classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the program you select is the right one for you. With the proper training, effort and commitment, the final outcome will be a new occupation as a professional welder in Prattville AL.