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How to Pick the Right Welding Training Program near Prichard Alabama

Prichard Alabama construction welder at work siteEnrolling in the ideal welding school near Prichard AL is an important first step to launching your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are numerous schools to pick from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more significantly, once you have narrowed down your options, how do you select the right one? A number of 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 considerations when evaluating 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 wise to develop 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 Programs

Prichard Alabama welder working in fabrication shop

There are several options to receive training as a welder in a trade or vocational school. You can earn 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 combined with an apprenticeship program. Following are short summaries of the most prevalent welding programs available in the Prichard AL area.

  • Certificate and Diploma Programs are generally offered by trade and technical schools and require about one year to complete. They are more hands-on training in scope, fashioned primarily 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 finish and are most often offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology furnishes a more well-rounded education than the certificate or diploma while still furnishing the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.

A number of municipalities and states do have licensing requirements for welders, therefore don't forget to check for your location of future employment. As required, the welding school you select should prep you for any licensing examinations that you will need to pass in addition to furnishing the appropriate training to become a qualified welder.

Welding Certification Choices

Prichard Alabama welder welding metal table

There are various institutions that provide welding certifications, which test the knowledge and skill level of those applying. Numerous Prichard AL employers not only expect a degree or certificate from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a respected organization such as the American Welding Society (AWS). Different certifications are offered based upon the kind of work that the welder does. Just some of the skills that certification can attest to are the welder's ability to

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

As previously mentioned, some cities, states or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those mandating licensing, some also require certification for various kinds of work. Certification is also a way to demonstrate to employers that you are an exceptionally skilled and qualified welder. So similarly as with licensing, look into the requirements for your local area and confirm that the welding technical school you choose readies you for certification as needed.

Topics to Ask Welder Technical Programs

Prichard Alabama welder welding electrical pole

As soon as you have chosen the credential you want to earn, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can begin to assess schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are many welder vocational and trade schools in the Prichard AL area. That's why it's essential to establish up front what qualifications your selected school must have. We have already discussed a couple of important ones that most people consider first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As stated, although they are essential qualifications, they are not the only ones that need to be looked at. After all, the school you choose is going to furnish the training that will be the foundation of your new career as a welder. So following are more factors you may need to consider before picking a welding vocational school.

Accreditation. It's essential that the welding trade school you pick is accredited by either a regional or a national agency. There are two standard kinds of accreditation. The school may attain Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on an individual program the school offers, for example 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 organization, such as the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping make sure that you obtain a superior education, the accreditation may also help in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable in Prichard AL for non-accredited schools. Finally, for those states or municipalities that mandate licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited also.

Job Placement and Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of welder diploma or degree programs are provided in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Some other schools will assist in placing you in a job or an apprenticeship after graduation. Ask if the schools you are considering assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. These schools should 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 help students find employment and establish associations within the Prichard AL welding community.

Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that begin an academic program and complete it. It's important that the welder school you select has a higher completion rate. A lower rate may signify that the students who were 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 high job placement rate will not only affirm that the program has an excellent reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of Prichard AL contacts to help students obtain employment or apprenticeships upon graduation.

Up-to-date Equipment and Facilities. Once you have decreased your selection of welding schools to 2 or 3 options, you should think out going to the campuses to evaluate their facilities. Confirm that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be instructed on are up-to-date. In particular, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be working with on the job. If you are unsure what to look for, and are currently in an apprenticeship program, consult with the master welder you are working under for guidance. If not, ask a local Prichard AL welding professional if they can give you some tips.

School Location. Even though we previously briefly covered the relevance of location, there are a couple of additional points that we need to address. You should remember that unless you are able to move, the welding school you select needs to be within driving distance of your Prichard AL home. If you do choose to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there could be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly true for welder diploma programs offered by community colleges. Also, 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 should be in an area or state where you subsequently will want to work.

Small Classes. Individualized training is important for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's easy to be overlooked in larger classes and not obtain much personalized training. Find out what the average class size is for the welder schools you are considering. Ask if you can attend a couple of classes so that you can observe just how much individual attention the students are getting. While there, talk with several of the students and get their evaluations. Similarly, speak with some of the instructors and find out what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they hold.

Convenient Class Schedules. Lots of folks learn a new profession while still employed at their present job. Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are considering are convenient enough to meet your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Prichard AL, make certain that the schools you are looking at offer those alternatives. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, confirm that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the protocol is to make up classes if you you miss any due to work, sickness or family emergencies.

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Find the Best Prichard Welding Program for Certification

Picking the right welding school will probably be the most important decision you will make to begin your new career. As we have discussed in this article, there are several things that you will need to examine and compare among the schools you are reviewing. It's a necessity that any welder school that you are evaluating includes a lot of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be smaller in size and each student should have their personal welding machine to train on. Classroom education should offer a real-world context, and the training program should be current and in-line with industry standards. Courses vary in length and the kind of credential provided, so you will have to decide what length of program and certificate or degree will best fulfill your needs. Every program provides different options for certification as well. Perhaps the best approach to research your final list of schools is to check out each campus and speak with the teachers and students. Invest some time to attend some classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the school you pick is the right one for you. With the right training, hard work and dedication, the final outcome will be a new occupation as a professional welder in Prichard AL.

 

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