How to Pick the Right Welder Certification Course near Princeton Alabama
Choosing the ideal welding trade school near Princeton AL is an important first step to beginning your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are a lot of schools to pick from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more notably, once you have fine tuned your choices, how do you pick the best one? A number of prospective students begin by looking at the schools that are nearest to their residences. When they have identified those that are within commuting distance, they are drawn toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are crucial considerations when reviewing welder vocational schools, but they are not the only ones. Other considerations include such things as reputation, accreditation and job placement rates. So before starting your search for a vocational school to become a welder, it's prudent 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 Certificate and Degree Training Classes
There are several options to obtain training as a welder in a trade or vocational 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 degrees 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 offered in the Princeton AL area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are usually made available by technical and trade schools and require about 1 year to complete. They are more hands-on training in scope, designed mainly to teach welding skills. They can furnish a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or specialized 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 extensive education than the diploma or certificate while still furnishing the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
Many states and municipalities do have licensing prerequisites for welders, so don't forget to find out for your location of potential employment. If required, the welding school you pick should prep you for any licensing exams that you will have to take in addition to supplying the proper training to become a professional welder.
Welding Certification Alternatives
There are various institutions that provide welder certifications, which assess the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Numerous Princeton AL employers not only demand a degree or certificate from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a respected agency like the American Welding Society (AWS). A variety of certifications are offered based on the kind of work that the welder performs. 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 certain kinds of welds
- Work based on contract specifications
As already stated, some states, cities or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those mandating licensing, some also require certification for different types of work. Certification is also a way to demonstrate to employers that you are an exceptionally skilled and experienced welder. So just as with licensing, check the requirements for your location and verify that the welding technical school you decide on prepares you for certification as needed.
Questions to Ask Welder Trade Schools
As soon as you have chosen the credential you want to obtain, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can start to assess schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are many welder trade and technical schools in the Princeton AL area. That's why it's necessary to establish in advance what qualifications your chosen school must have. We have already discussed 2 important 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 should be considered. After all, the school you choose is going to provide the instruction that will be the foundation of your new vocation as a welder. So below are some additional factors you may need to consider before picking a welding vocational school.
Accreditation. It's very important that the welder tech school you decide on is accredited by either a national or a regional organization. There are 2 basic kinds of accreditation. The school may earn Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on an individual program the school offers, such as Welding Technology. So make sure 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, like the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping make sure that you receive an excellent education, the accreditation might also assist in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases not available in Princeton AL for schools that are not accredited. Also, 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 welding certificate or degree programs are offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Some other schools will help place you in an apprenticeship or a job upon graduation. Find out if the schools you are reviewing 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. More established schools may have a larger network of graduates that they can utilize for placements. 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 portion or percentage of students that enroll in an instructional program and finish it. It's essential that the welder program you select has a higher completion rate. A low rate may signify that the students who were in the program were unhappy with the instruction, the instructors, or the facilities, and dropped out. The job placement rate is also an indication of the quality of training. A high job placement rate will not only affirm that the school has a good reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of Princeton AL employer relationships to help students secure apprenticeships or employment upon graduation.
Up-to-date Equipment and Facilities. Once you have limited your choice of welder schools to 2 or 3 possibilities, you should consider going to the campuses to inspect their facilities. Make sure that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be instructed on are up-to-date. In particular, the training equipment should be comparable to what you will be using 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. Otherwise, ask a local Princeton AL welding contractor if they can give you some pointers.
School Location. Even though we already briefly discussed the significance of location, there are a couple of additional points that we need to deal with. You should bear in mind that unless you can relocate, the welding program you pick needs to be within driving distance of your Princeton AL home. If you do choose to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation expenses there may be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly the case for welding diploma programs offered by community colleges. Also, if the school offers a job placement or apprenticeship program, often 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 ultimately will want to work.
Smaller Classes. Individualized training is essential for a manual trade such as welding. It's easy to be lost in bigger classes and not obtain much individualized training. Find out what the usual class size is for the welding schools you are looking at. Inquire if you can sit in on some classes so that you can observe just how much personal attention the students are getting. While there, talk with a few of the students and get their opinions. Similarly, chat with some of the instructors and find out what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they hold.
Flexible Class Scheduling. Lots of folks learn a new trade while still working at their present job. Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are considering are convenient enough to satisfy your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Princeton AL, make certain that the schools you are assessing offer those choices. If you can only attend part-time, verify 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 work, illness or family emergencies.
Find the Right Princeton Welding School for Certification
Choosing the ideal welder school will probably be the most important decision you will make to start your new profession. As we have covered in this article, there are many factors that you will need to assess and compare between the schools you are looking at. It's a prerequisite that any welder training that you are examining includes a good deal of hands-on training. Classes should be smaller in size and each student must have their own welding machine to train on. Classroom education should offer a real-world context, and the curriculum should be current and in-line with industry standards. Training programs vary in length and the kind of credential offered, so you will have to ascertain what length of program and certificate or degree will best fulfill your needs. Every training program provides different possibilities for certification also. Perhaps the best way to research your final list of schools is to visit each campus and talk with the students and instructors. Invest some time to sit in on a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the school you choose is the ideal one for you. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, the end outcome will be a new trade as a professional welder in Princeton AL.