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How to Select the Right Welding Vocational School near Prichard Alabama

Prichard Alabama construction welder at work siteSelecting the ideal welder vocational school near Prichard 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 notably, once you have narrowed down your options, how do you select the best one? Most prospective students begin by checking out the schools that are closest to their homes. Once they have found those that are within driving distance, they are drawn toward the least costly one. Yes, location and tuition cost are important concerns when evaluating welder vocational schools, but they are not the only ones. Other concerns include such things as accreditation, reputation and job placement rates. So before starting 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 explore our due diligence checklist, let's talk a little bit about how to become a welder.

Welder Degree and Certificate Training

Prichard Alabama welder welding in fabrication shop

There are multiple options to get 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 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 Prichard AL area.

  • Diploma and Certificate Programs are usually made available by technical and trade schools and take about one year to finish. They are more hands-on training in scope, designed largely 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 2 years to finish 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 prepares students to enter the workforce.

Many states and municipalities do have licensing prerequisites for welders, therefore make sure to find out for your location of potential employment. If needed, the welder school you select should ready you for any licensing examinations that you will need to take in addition to furnishing the proper training to become a qualified welder.

Welding Certification Choices

Prichard Alabama welder welding metal table

There are a number of institutions that offer welding certifications, which assess the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Many Prichard AL employers not only require a degree or certificate from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a renowned agency like the American Welding Society (AWS). Different certifications are available dependent on the kind of work that the welder performs. Some of the skills that certification can acknowledge are the welder's ability to

  • Operate in compliance with specific codes
  • Work with certain metal thicknesses
  • Work with various types of welds
  • Operate in compliance with contract specifications

As previously stated, many states, cities or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those requiring licensing, some additionally require certification for various kinds of work. Certification is also a means to prove to employers that you are an extremely skilled and qualified welder. So similarly as with licensing, look into the requirements for your local area and confirm that the welder vocational school you decide on prepares you for certification as needed.

What to Ask Welder Trade Programs

Prichard Alabama welder welding electrical beam

Once you have chosen the credential you want to earn, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can start to compare schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are many welding trade and technical schools in the Prichard AL area. That's why it's important to decide in advance what qualifications your selected school must have. We have previously covered two important ones that most people look at first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As stated, although they are essential qualifiers, they are not the only ones that must be looked at. 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 may need to evaluate before picking a welder trade school.

Accreditation. It's extremely important that the welder trade school you decide on is accredited by either a national or a regional organization. There are 2 basic types of accreditation. The school may earn Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on an individual program the school has, such as Welding Technology. So make sure that the program you pick is accredited, not just the school alone. 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 an excellent education, the accreditation might also help in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently unavailable in Prichard AL for non-accredited schools. Also, for those states or municipalities that require licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited also.

Apprenticeship and Job Assistance Programs. Many welding degree or certificate programs are provided combined with an apprenticeship program. Various other schools will help place you in an apprenticeship or a job after graduation. Find out if the schools you are considering help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. The schools must have relationships with local unions and other metal working businesses to which they can place their students. Older schools may have a larger network of graduates that they can rely upon for referrals. These programs can help students find employment and establish associations within the Prichard AL welding community.

Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that begin an academic program and complete it. It's important that the welding school you pick has a higher completion rate. A reduced rate could indicate that the students who enrolled in the program were unhappy with the instruction, the instructors, or the facilities, and quit. The job placement rate is also an indication 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 Prichard AL employer relationships to help students secure employment or apprenticeships upon graduation.

Up-to-date Equipment and Facilities. After you have narrowed down your choice of welding schools to 2 or 3 options, you should think out visiting the campuses to look over their facilities. Verify that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be taught on are modern. In particular, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be using on the job. If you are uncertain what to look for, and are currently in an apprenticeship program, consult with the master welder you are working under for guidance. Otherwise, ask a local Prichard AL welding professional if they can give you some tips.

School Location. Although we already briefly talked about the importance of location, there are a couple of additional points that we need to address. You should remember that unless you have the ability to move, the welder school you select must be within commuting distance of your Prichard AL home. If you do opt 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 welder certificate programs offered by community colleges. Also, if the school offers a job placement or apprenticeship program, more than likely 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 subsequently will want to work.

Small Classes. Personalized training is essential for a manual trade such as welding. It's easy to get overlooked in larger classes and not obtain much one-on-one instruction. Ask what the usual class size is for the welding programs you are considering. Inquire if you can attend some classes so that you can experience just how much personal attention the students are getting. While there, talk with a few of the students and get their evaluations. Also, talk to some of the instructors and find out what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they have earned.

Flexible Class Scheduling. Many people learn a new profession while still working at their present job. Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are considering are flexible enough to satisfy your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Prichard AL, verify that the schools you are assessing offer those options. If you can only enroll part-time, make sure that the school you decide on offers part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the protocol is to make up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family responsibilities.

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Choose the Right Prichard Welding Training for Certification

Picking the best welder 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 several factors that you will need to evaluate and compare among the schools you are reviewing. It's a prerequisite that any welder training that you are assessing includes a lot of hands-on training. Classes should be smaller in size and every student must have their own welding machine to train with. Classroom instruction should provide 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 need to determine what length of program and credential will best fulfill your needs. Each training program offers unique options for certification also. Perhaps the best approach to research your short list of schools is to check out each campus and speak with the students and faculty. Invest some time to monitor some classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the program you choose is the best one for you. With the right training, effort and dedication, the end outcome will be a new trade as a professional welder in Prichard AL.

 

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