How to Choose the Right Welding Trade School near Princeton Alabama
Enrolling in the ideal welder school near Princeton AL is an important first step to beginning your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are numerous schools to pick from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more importantly, once you have fine tuned your choices, how do you pick the right one? Most people start by checking out the schools that are closest to their residences. Once they have identified those that are within driving distance, they gravitate toward the least costly one. Yes, location and tuition cost are important considerations when reviewing welder trade schools, but they are not the only ones. Other concerns include such things as accreditation, reputation and job placement rates. So before beginning your search for a trade school to become a welder, it's sensible 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.
Welding Degree and Certificate Training Classes
There are a number of options to get training as a welder in a trade or technical school. You can earn a diploma, a certificate or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are available in Welding Engineering or Welding Technology, but are more advanced courses than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available combined with an apprenticeship program. Following are brief descriptions of the most prevalent welding programs offered in the Princeton AL area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are generally made available by trade and technical schools and take about 1 year to finish. They are more hands-on training in nature, created mainly to teach welding skills. They can provide a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or specialized skills for experienced welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take 2 years to complete and are most often offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology offers a more extensive education than the diploma or certificate while still supplying the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
Some states and municipalities do have licensing prerequisites for welders, so make sure to find out for your location of potential employment. As required, the welder school you pick should prep you for any licensing exams that you will have to pass in addition to furnishing the proper training to become a professional welder.
Welding Certification Alternatives
There are multiple organizations that provide welding 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 school, but also certification from a respected agency such as the American Welding Society (AWS). Different certifications are offered based upon the type of work that the welder does. A few 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 various kinds of welds
- Perform according to contract specifications
As already stated, many cities, states or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those calling for licensing, some additionally require certification for different kinds of work. Certification is also a way to prove to employers that you are a highly skilled and knowledgeable welder. So just as with licensing, check the requirements for your location and make certain that the welder technical school you decide on prepares you for certification as needed.
What to Ask Welder Technical Programs
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 a large number of welder trade and vocational schools in the Princeton AL area. That's why it's essential to establish in advance what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have previously discussed two significant ones that most people consider first, which are location and tuition cost. As mentioned, although they are very important qualifications, they are not the only ones that must be looked at. After all, the program you choose is going to furnish the education that will be the foundation of your new vocation as a welder. So below are more factors you may want to evaluate before picking a welder tech school.
Accreditation. It's essential that the welder trade school you choose is accredited by either a regional or a national organization. There are 2 standard kinds of accreditation. The school may attain Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a specific program the school has, for example Welding Technology. So make certain that the program you select is accredited, not just the school itself. Additionally, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, like the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). In addition to helping ensure that you get a quality education, the accreditation may also help in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently unavailable in Princeton AL for schools that are not accredited. Also, for those states or local governments that mandate licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited also.
Apprenticeship and Job Placement Programs. A large number of welding diploma or degree programs are offered combined with an apprenticeship program. Some other schools will assist in placing you in a job or an apprenticeship after graduation. Find out if the schools you are looking at assist 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 place their students. Older schools may have a larger network of graduates that they can utilize for referrals. These programs can help students find employment and establish relationships within the Princeton AL welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that enroll in an instructional program and complete it. It's essential that the welding school you select has a higher completion rate. A lower rate could signify that the students who joined the program were dissatisfied with the instruction, the teachers, or the facilities, and dropped out. The job placement rate is also a good indicator of the quality of training. A higher job placement rate will not only affirm that the program has an excellent reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of Princeton AL contacts to help students secure apprenticeships or employment upon graduation.
Up-to-date Facilities and Equipment. After you have narrowed down your selection of welding schools to 2 or 3 options, you should think out going to the campuses to inspect their facilities. Verify that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be taught on are modern. In particular, 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 already in an apprenticeship program, consult with the master welder you are working under for guidance. Otherwise, ask a local Princeton AL welding contractor if they can give you a few tips.
School Location. Although we previously briefly covered the relevance of location, there are a few additional points that we need to address. You should remember that unless you have the ability to relocate, the welding program you pick needs to be within driving distance of your Princeton AL home. If you do opt to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there might 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 offers an apprenticeship or job placement program, more than likely their placements are within the school's regional community. So the location of the school should be in an area or state where you ultimately will want to work.
Small Classes. Individualized training is important for a manual trade such as welding. It's possible to get lost in bigger classes and not obtain much one-on-one instruction. Ask what the typical class size is for the welder programs you are looking at. Inquire if you can attend a few classes so that you can witness how much individual attention the students are getting. While there, talk with a few of the students and get their evaluations. Also, chat with a few of the teachers and find out what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they hold.
Convenient Class Schedules. Some people learn a new profession while still working at their current job. Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are considering 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 assessing offer those alternatives. If you can only enroll part-time, make certain that the school you pick offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the policy is to make up classes should you miss any due to illness, work or family responsibilities.
Choose the Right Princeton Welding Training for Certification
Selecting the best welder training program will probably be the most important decision you will make to begin your new career. As we have covered in this article, there are a number of factors that you will need to evaluate and compare among the schools you are looking at. It's a must that any welder school that you are considering includes a good deal of hands-on instruction. Classes should be small in size and each student should have their personal welding machine to train with. Classroom teaching needs to provide a real-world context, and the course of study should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Courses vary in length and the type of credential offered, so you will need to determine what length of program and certificate or degree will best serve your needs. Each program provides different possibilities for certification as well. Perhaps the best approach to research your short list of schools is to go to each campus and speak with the students and faculty. Take the time to attend some classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the program you choose is the ideal one for you. With the proper training, effort and commitment, the final outcome will be a new trade as a professional welder in Princeton AL.