How to Select the Right Welder Training Classes near Princeton Alabama
Selecting the right welding vocational 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 pick from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more notably, once you have fine tuned your choices, how do you pick the right one? Most prospective students begin by looking at the schools that are closest to their residences. When they have identified those that are within commuting distance, they are drawn toward the least costly one. Yes, location and tuition cost are crucial issues when reviewing welding technical schools, but they are not the only ones. Other factors include such things as accreditation, reputation and job placement rates. So before initiating your search for a vocational school to become a welder, it's prudent to develop a list of qualifications that your selected school must have. But before we explore our due diligence checklist, let's cover a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welding Certificate and Degree Programs
There are a number of options available to receive training as a welder in a trade or technical school. You can earn a diploma, a certificate or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are offered in Welding Engineering or Welding Technology, but are more advanced programs than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Below are short summaries of the most common welding programs available in the Princeton AL area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are usually offered by technical and trade schools and require about 1 year to complete. They are more hands-on training in nature, created largely to teach welding skills. They can provide a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or supplemental skills for working welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take 2 years to complete and are most often 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 requirements for welders, therefore be sure to check for your location of future employment. As required, the welder school you select should ready you for any licensing exams that you will need to pass in addition to supplying the appropriate training to become a professional welder.
Welder Certification Choices
There are multiple institutions that provide welder certifications, which evaluate the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Numerous Princeton 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). A variety of certifications are offered dependent on the type of work that the welder performs. Just some of the skills that certification can attest to are the welder's ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with certain metal thicknesses
- Work with certain types of welds
- Work according to contract specifications
As already stated, some cities, states or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those requiring licensing, many additionally 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 similarly as with licensing, check the requirements for your location and make certain that the welding vocational school you choose prepares you for certification if needed.
Subjects to Ask Welder Tech Programs
Once you have decided on the credential you would like to attain, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can start to assess schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are many welding trade and vocational schools in the Princeton AL area. That's why it's essential to determine in advance what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have already discussed a couple of significant 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 need to be considered. After all, the program you pick is going to provide the instruction that will be the foundation of your new vocation as a welder. So below are more factors you might need to evaluate before picking a welder vocational school.
Accreditation. It's extremely important that the welding technical school you pick 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, for instance 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). In addition to helping make sure that you obtain a quality education, the accreditation might also help in getting financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases not available in Princeton AL for non-accredited schools. Finally, for those states or municipalities that require licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited as well.
Job Assistance and Apprenticeship Programs. Many welder degree or diploma programs are offered combined with an apprenticeship program. Some other schools will help place you in a job or an apprenticeship after graduation. Find out if the schools you are reviewing help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance 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 rely upon for referrals. These programs can assist students in finding employment and establish relationships within the Princeton AL welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that begin an educational program and finish it. It's essential that the welding program you select has a high completion rate. A lower rate might signify that the students who were in the program were dissatisfied with the training, 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 affirm that the school has a good reputation within the trade, but additionally that it has the network of Princeton AL employer relationships to assist students secure employment or apprenticeships after graduation.
Modern Facilities and Equipment. Once you have limited your choice of welder programs to 2 or 3 options, you should think out visiting the campuses to look over their facilities. Make sure that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be taught on are modern. In particular, the training equipment should be comparable to what you will be working with on the job. 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. Otherwise, ask a local Princeton AL welding contractor if they can give you some pointers.
School Location. Although we already briefly covered the significance of location, there are a few additional points that we need to deal with. You should remember that unless you can relocate, the welder program you choose needs to be within driving distance of your Princeton AL home. If you do decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to moving expenses there may be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially true for welding certificate programs offered by community colleges. Additionally, if the school provides an apprenticeship or job placement program, most likely their placements are within the school's regional community. So the location of the school needs to be in a region or state where you subsequently will want to work.
Small Classes. Individualized instruction is important for a manual trade such as welding. It's possible to get lost in larger classes and not obtain much personalized instruction. Ask what the typical class size is for the welder programs you are looking at. Inquire if you can attend some classes so that you can experience just how much individual attention the students are getting. While there, talk with several of the students and get their feedback. Similarly, chat with a few of the teachers and ask what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they have earned.
Convenient Class Scheduling. Many people learn a new profession while still employed at their current job. Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are convenient enough to satisfy your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Princeton AL, verify that the schools you are looking at 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 if you you miss any because of work, illness or family circumstances.
Choose the Right Princeton Welding Program for Certification
Selecting the ideal welding training program will undoubtedly be the most critical decision you will make to begin your new career. As we have addressed in this article, there are a number of things that you will need to examine and compare between the programs you are reviewing. It's a prerequisite that any welder school that you are considering 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 instruction should provide a real-world context, and the training program should be current and conform with industry standards. Training programs vary in length and the kind of credential offered, so you will have to decide what length of program and degree or certificate will best satisfy your needs. Every program provides unique possibilities for certification as well. Perhaps the best approach to research your short list of schools is to visit each campus and speak with the students and instructors. Invest some time to monitor some classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the program you select is the right one for you. With the proper training, hard work and dedication, the end outcome will be a new occupation as a professional welder in Princeton AL.