How to Enroll In the Right Welding Training Program near Prichard Alabama
Enrolling in the right welder trade school near Prichard AL is an essential first step to beginning your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are numerous schools to pick from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more importantly, once you have narrowed down your alternatives, how do you pick the best one? Most prospective students start by checking out the schools that are closest to their residences. Once they have identified those that are within driving distance, they gravitate toward the least expensive one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are crucial considerations when evaluating welder trade schools, but they are not the only ones. Other considerations include such things as accreditation, reputation and job placement rates. So before beginning 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 delve into our due diligence checklist, let's cover a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welder Degree and Certificate Training Courses
There are multiple alternatives available to receive training as a welder in a trade or technical 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 courses than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available combined with an apprenticeship program. Below are brief explanations of the most prevalent welding programs available in the Prichard AL area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are usually made available by technical and trade schools and take about one year to complete. 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 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 furnishing the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
Some municipalities and states do have licensing prerequisites for welders, so make sure to check for your location of potential employment. If needed, the welder school you choose should prep you for any licensing examinations that you will need to pass in addition to supplying the appropriate training to become a professional welder.
Welding Certification Alternatives
There are multiple organizations that provide welding certifications, which test the knowledge and skill level of those applying. Many Prichard AL employers not only expect a certificate or degree from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a highly regarded agency like the American Welding Society (AWS). Different certifications are available based upon the kind of work that the welder does. Some of the skills that certification can attest to are the welder's ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specific metal thicknesses
- Work with specific types of welds
- Perform according to contract specifications
As formerly stated, many cities, states or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those calling for licensing, a number additionally require certification for various kinds of work. Certification is also a means to demonstrate to employers that you are an extremely skilled and experienced welder. So similarly as with licensing, look into the requirements for your location and make certain that the welding vocational school you choose prepares you for certification if needed.
Topics to Ask Welding Technical Schools
As soon as you have chosen the credential you would like to attain, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can start to compare schools. As you can imagine, there are numerous welding trade and vocational schools in the Prichard AL area. That's why it's essential to decide up front what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have previously discussed 2 important ones that most people consider first, which are location and tuition cost. As stated, although they are essential qualifiers, they are not the only ones that must be considered. After all, the program you pick is going to provide the education that will be the foundation of your new vocation as a welder. So following are more factors you might need to evaluate before selecting a welder trade school.
Accreditation. It's essential that the welding vocational school you select is accredited by either a national or a regional agency. There are two standard types of accreditation. The school may earn Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a single program the school has, such as Welding Technology. So verify that the program you choose is accredited, not just the school itself. Also, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, for example the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). In addition to helping make sure that you receive a superior education, the accreditation might also assist in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not offered in Prichard 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. A large number of welder certificate or degree programs are offered combined with an apprenticeship program. Other schools will help place you in an apprenticeship or a job 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 associations with local unions and other 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 establish relationships within the Prichard AL welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that start an academic program and finish it. It's essential that the welding program you choose has a high completion rate. A low rate might mean that the students who enrolled in the program were unhappy 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 higher job placement rate will not only confirm that the program has an excellent reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of Prichard AL employer relationships to assist students secure employment or apprenticeships upon graduation.
Up-to-date Facilities and Equipment. Once you have limited your choice of welding programs to 2 or 3 possibilities, you should think out visiting the campuses to evaluate their facilities. Make sure that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be instructed on are modern. In particular, 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, ask the master welder you are working under for guidance. Otherwise, ask a local Prichard AL welding contractor if they can give you a few tips.
School Location. Although we previously briefly talked about the relevance of location, there are a couple of additional points that we should cover. You should remember that unless you have the ability to move, the welding program you choose needs to be within commuting distance of your Prichard AL home. If you do decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides relocation costs there might be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly the case for welder diploma programs offered by community colleges. Also, if the school offers a job placement or apprenticeship 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 subsequently will want to work.
Small Classes. Individualized instruction is important for a manual trade such as welding. It's easy to get lost in larger classes and not receive much personalized instruction. Find out what the average class size is for the welder schools you are considering. Inquire if you can attend a few classes so that you can experience just how much individual attention the students are receiving. While there, talk with some of the students and get their evaluations. Also, talk with a couple of the instructors and ask what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they hold.
Flexible Class Scheduling. Some people learn a new profession while still employed at their current job. Check to see that the class schedules for the programs you are considering are convenient enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Prichard AL, make certain that the schools you are assessing provide those options. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you choose offers part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the protocol is to make up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family emergencies.
Find the Best Prichard Welding School for Certification
Selecting the right welding school will probably be the most critical decision you will make to start your new profession. As we have covered in this article, there are many things that you will need to evaluate and compare between the programs you are reviewing. It's a must that any welder school that you are examining includes a lot of hands-on training. Classes should be smaller in size and every student must have their personal welding machine to train on. Classroom education should provide a real-world frame of reference, and the course of study should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Training programs differ in length and the type of credential offered, so you will need to decide what length of program and credential will best serve your needs. Each program offers different options for certification as well. Probably the best approach to research your short list of schools is to check out each campus and talk with the teachers and students. Invest some time to attend a few classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the school you pick is the ideal one for you. With the right training, effort and dedication, the final result will be a new trade as a professional welder in Prichard AL.