How to Select the Right Welder Certification Classes near Princeton Alabama
Locating the ideal welding school near Princeton AL is an important first step to beginning your new career 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 choices, how do you select the best one? A number of people start by looking at the schools that are closest to their residences. Once they have identified those that are within driving distance, they are drawn toward the least costly one. Yes, location and tuition cost are crucial considerations when evaluating welder vocational schools, but they are not the only ones. Other factors include such things as accreditation, reputation and job placement rates. So before beginning your search for a vocational school to become a welder, it's prudent to create a list of qualifications that your selected school must have. But before we examine our due diligence checklist, let's cover a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welding Degree and Certificate Training
There are a number of alternatives available to get 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 programs than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available combined with an apprenticeship program. Following are brief explanations of the most typical welding programs offered in the Princeton AL area.
- Diploma and Certificate 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, designed mainly to teach 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 finish and are most often offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology offers a more well-rounded education than the diploma or certificate while still furnishing the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
Some states and municipalities do have licensing requirements for welders, therefore don't forget to check for your location of potential employment. As needed, the welding school you pick should prep you for any licensing exams that you will have to take in addition to furnishing the appropriate training to become a qualified welder.
Welder Certification Options
There are several institutions that provide welder certifications, which test the knowledge and skill level of those applying. A large number of Princeton AL employers not only expect a degree or certificate from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a respected organization such as the American Welding Society (AWS). Different certifications are offered based on the type of work that the welder performs. A few of the skills that certification can acknowledge are the welder's ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specified metal thicknesses
- Work with specific types of welds
- Perform based on contract specifications
As already stated, some cities, states or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those mandating licensing, some also require certification for different kinds of work. Certification is also a means to prove to employers that you are an exceptionally skilled and experienced welder. So just as with licensing, look into the requirements for your location and confirm that the welding technical school you select prepares you for certification as needed.
Questions to Ask Welding Trade Schools
After you have chosen the credential you would like to attain, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can begin to compare schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are many welding trade and technical schools in the Princeton AL area. That's why it's necessary to determine up front what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have already discussed two important ones that most people look at first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As mentioned, although they are very important qualifications, they are not the only ones that should be considered. After all, the school you decide on is going to provide the education that will be the foundation of your new career as a welder. So following are some additional factors you might need to evaluate before selecting a welding tech school.
Accreditation. It's very important that the welding technical school you decide on is accredited by either a regional or a national agency. 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 single program the school has, for instance Welding Technology. So verify that the program you select is accredited, not just the school alone. Also, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, such as the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). In addition to helping make sure that you get a superior education, the accreditation can also help in securing financial aid or student loans, which are often unavailable in Princeton AL for non-accredited schools. 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 diploma or degree programs are provided combined with an apprenticeship program. Various other schools will assist in placing you in an apprenticeship or a job after graduation. Find out if the schools you are considering assist 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. Older 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 Princeton AL welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that start an academic program and complete it. It's important that the welding school you choose has a high completion rate. A low rate may mean that the students who enrolled in the program were unhappy with the training, the teachers, 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 verify that the school has a good reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of Princeton AL employer relationships to help students obtain apprenticeships or employment upon graduation.
Up-to-date Facilities and Equipment. After you have limited your selection of welding schools to 2 or 3 options, you should consider visiting the campuses to look over their facilities. Verify that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be taught on are modern. Specifically, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be using in the field. If you are not sure what to look for, and are currently in an apprenticeship program, ask the master welder you are working under for guidance. If not, ask a local Princeton AL welding contractor if they can give you some pointers.
School Location. Even though we previously briefly talked about the relevance of location, there are a few additional points that we should cover. You should bear in mind that unless you can relocate, the welding school you select needs to be within commuting distance of your Princeton AL home. If you do choose to attend an out-of-state school, besides moving costs there could be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly the case for welder degree programs offered by community colleges. Furthermore, if the school offers a job placement or apprenticeship 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 subsequently will wish to work.
Small Classes. Individualized training is important for a manual trade such as welding. It's easy to get overlooked in bigger classes and not get much personalized training. Find out what the average class size is for the welder programs you are looking at. Ask if you can attend some classes so that you can experience how much individual attention the students are receiving. While there, talk with some of the students and get their opinions. Similarly, talk with a few of the teachers and ask what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they have earned.
Convenient Class Schedules. Some people learn a new trade while still employed at their present job. Confirm that the class schedules for the schools you are looking at are convenient enough to meet your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Princeton AL, verify that the schools you are considering offer those choices. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, verify that the school you decide on offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the protocol is to make up classes should you miss any because of illness, work or family responsibilities.
Choose the Right Princeton Welding Program for Certification
Selecting the best welder training program will probably be the most critical 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 evaluate and compare between the programs you are looking at. It's a necessity that any welder training program that you are assessing includes a good deal of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be smaller in size and each student must have their personal welding machine to train with. Classroom education should provide a real-world perspective, and the course of study should be current and in-line with industry standards. Courses 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. Each program offers unique options for certification also. Perhaps the best way to research your final list of schools is to check out each campus and speak with the students and faculty. Take the time to sit in on some classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the training program you pick is the best one for you. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, the end result will be a new occupation as a professional welder in Princeton AL.