How to Select the Best Welder Training Classes near Princeton Alabama
Enrolling in the right welding school near Princeton AL is an important first step to beginning your new career as a professional welder. But since there are numerous schools to choose from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more significantly, once you have fine tuned your choices, how do you select the right one? A number of people start by looking at the schools that are nearest to their residences. Once they have identified those that are within driving distance, they are drawn toward the least costly one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are important issues when evaluating welder vocational schools, but they are not the only ones. Other considerations 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 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 several alternatives available to receive training as a welder in a trade or vocational school. You can receive a a certificate, a diploma or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are available in Welding Engineering or Welding Technology, but are more advanced degrees than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Following are brief summaries of the most prevalent welding programs available in the Princeton AL area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are usually made available by technical and trade schools and take about 1 year to complete. They are more hands-on training in scope, fashioned primarily to teach welding skills. They can provide a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or additional skills for working welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take 2 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 providing the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
Many municipalities and states do have licensing prerequisites for welders, therefore don't forget to check for your location of potential employment. If required, the welder school you choose should prep you for any licensing exams that you will need to take in addition to supplying the suitable training to become a professional welder.
Welding Certification Alternatives
There are a number of institutions that offer welder certifications, which assess the knowledge and skill level of those applying. Many Princeton AL employers not only require a certificate or degree from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a highly regarded agency like the American Welding Society (AWS). Different certifications are available based upon the type of work that the welder does. Some of the things 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
- Perform based on contract specifications
As earlier stated, many states, cities or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those requiring licensing, some also require certification for various kinds of work. Certification is also a way to demonstrate to employers that you are a highly skilled and knowledgeable welder. So just as with licensing, check the requirements for your local area and make sure that the welder tech school you decide on readies you for certification if needed.
Questions to Ask Welding Trade Schools
As soon as you have decided on the credential you would like to obtain, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can begin to assess schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are a large number of welder trade and technical schools in the Princeton AL area. That's why it's necessary to decide in advance what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have previously covered two significant ones that most people look at first, which are location and tuition cost. As mentioned, although they are essential qualifiers, they are not the only ones that must be looked at. After all, the school you pick is going to furnish the instruction that will be the foundation of your new profession as a welder. So following are more factors you might need to consider before selecting a welder trade school.
Accreditation. It's essential that the welding tech school you select is accredited by either a regional or a national 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 an individual program the school has, for example Welding Technology. So confirm that the program you pick is accredited, not just the school itself. Additionally, 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 an excellent education, the accreditation may also assist in getting financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases not available in Princeton AL for non-accredited schools. Finally, for those states or local governments that require licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited also.
Apprenticeship and Job Placement Programs. Many welding degree or diploma programs are provided in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Various other schools will help place you in an apprenticeship or a job upon graduation. Find out if the schools you are looking at help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. The schools should have partnerships with local unions and other metal working businesses to which they can refer their students. More established schools may have a more substantial network of graduates that they can utilize for referrals. These programs can help students find employment and develop associations within the Princeton AL welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that enroll in an academic program and complete it. It's important that the welder school you pick has a higher completion rate. A lower rate may indicate that the students who joined the program were unhappy with the training, the instructors, or the facilities, and dropped out. The job placement rate is also a good indicator of the quality of training. A high job placement rate will not only confirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the trade, but additionally that it has the network of Princeton AL employer relationships to assist students obtain apprenticeships or employment after graduation.
Modern Facilities and Equipment. Once you have limited your selection of welding schools to 2 or 3 possibilities, you should think out visiting the campuses to inspect their facilities. Confirm that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are modern. In particular, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be working with in the field. If you are unsure what to look for, and are already in an apprenticeship program, consult with the master welder you are working under for guidance. Otherwise, ask a local Princeton AL welding professional if they can give you a few tips.
School Location. Although we already briefly discussed the relevance of location, there are a few additional points that we should cover. You should bear in mind that unless you have the ability to move, the welder school you select must be within commuting distance of your Princeton AL home. If you do decide to attend an out-of-state school, apart from moving costs there could be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially the case for welding diploma programs offered by community colleges. Also, if the school provides an apprenticeship or job placement program, more than likely 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 desire to work.
Smaller Classes. One-on-one training is important for a manual trade such as welding. It's easy to get overlooked in bigger classes and not get much personalized instruction. Ask what the typical class size is for the welding schools you are considering. Ask if you can sit in on a few classes so that you can experience just how much individual attention the students are getting. While there, talk with some of the students and get their feedback. Similarly, chat with a couple of the instructors and find out what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they hold.
Flexible Class Schedules. Some people learn a new trade while still working at their present job. Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are looking at are convenient enough to satisfy your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Princeton AL, make certain that the schools you are reviewing provide those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you pick offers part-time enrollment. Also, check to see what the protocol is to make up classes should you miss any because of illness, work or family circumstances.
Choose the Best Princeton Welding School for Certification
Selecting the right welding school will probably be the most important decision you will make to launch your new career. As we have covered in this article, there are a number of things that you will need to assess and compare between the programs you are looking at. It's a must that any welder training program that you are assessing includes a considerable amount of hands-on training. Classes should be small in size and each student must have their personal welding machine to train with. Classroom education needs to provide a real-world perspective, and the curriculum should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Programs vary in duration and the kind of credential offered, so you will need to determine what length of program and certificate or degree will best satisfy your needs. Every program provides unique options for certification also. Perhaps The ideal way to research your short list of schools is to go to each campus and talk with the students and faculty. Take the time to monitor a few classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the training program you decide on is the best one for you. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, the end result will be a new trade as a professional welder in Princeton AL.