How to Select the Best Welding Trade School near Rainbow City Alabama
Finding the right welding technical school near Rainbow City AL is an essential first step to starting your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are so many schools to choose from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more significantly, once you have narrowed down your choices, how do you select the right one? Many prospective students begin by checking out the schools that are closest to their residences. When they have identified those that are within driving distance, they gravitate toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are necessary considerations when examining welding vocational schools, but they are not the only ones. Other concerns include such things as accreditation, reputation and job placement rates. So before initiating your search for a trade school to become a welder, it's sensible to establish a list of qualifications that your chosen school must have. But before we examine our due diligence checklist, let's cover a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welding Certificate and Degree Programs
There are several alternatives available to receive training as a welder in a trade or vocational school. You can obtain a diploma, a certificate or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are offered in Welding Engineering or Welding Technology, but are more advanced courses than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Following are short explanations of the most common welding programs available in the Rainbow City AL area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are usually offered by technical and trade schools and require about a year to finish. They are more hands-on training in nature, fashioned largely to develop welding skills. They can provide 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 usually offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology provides a more extensive education than the diploma or certificate while still supplying the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
A number of municipalities and states do have licensing prerequisites for welders, therefore be sure to find out for your location of potential employment. As required, the welding school you select should ready you for any licensing examinations that you will have to take in addition to furnishing the suitable training to become a professional welder.
Welder Certification Options
There are several institutions that provide welder certifications, which test the knowledge and skill level of those applying. Many Rainbow City AL employers not only demand a degree or certificate from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a renowned agency like the American Welding Society (AWS). A variety of certifications are available dependent on the kind of work that the welder performs. A few of the things that certification can acknowledge are the welder's ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specified metal thicknesses
- Work with various kinds of welds
- Work based on contract specifications
As previously mentioned, various states, cities or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those calling for licensing, a number additionally require certification for various types of work. Certification is also a way to demonstrate to employers that you are an extremely skilled and experienced welder. So just as with licensing, check the requirements for your local area and verify that the welding tech school you select prepares you for certification if needed.
Topics to Ask Welder Vocational Programs
Once you have chosen the credential you would like to attain, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can begin to compare schools. As you can imagine, there are a large number of welding trade and vocational schools in the Rainbow City AL area. That's why it's important to establish in advance what qualifications your selected school must have. We have previously covered 2 significant ones that most people look at first, which are location and tuition cost. As mentioned, although they are very important qualifications, they are not the only ones that need to be looked at. After all, the program you choose is going to furnish the education that will be the foundation of your new career as a welder. So below are more factors you might want to consider before choosing a welding technical school.
Accreditation. It's extremely important that the welding vocational school you select is accredited by either a national or a regional agency. There are 2 standard kinds of accreditation. The school may receive Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a single program the school offers, for instance Welding Technology. So verify that the program you choose is accredited, not just the school alone. Additionally, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, for example 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 assist in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are often not available in Rainbow City AL for non-accredited schools. Also, for those states or local governments that mandate licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited as well.
Apprenticeship and Job Assistance Programs. A large number of welding degree or diploma programs are provided in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Various other schools will assist in placing you in a job or an apprenticeship upon graduation. Ask if the schools you are looking at help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. These 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 assist students in finding employment and establish associations within the Rainbow City AL welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that start an academic program and complete it. It's essential that the welder school you select has a higher completion rate. A reduced rate may mean that the students who enrolled in the program were dissatisfied 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 confirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of Rainbow City AL employer relationships to help students obtain employment or apprenticeships after graduation.
Up-to-date Equipment and Facilities. Once you have limited your choice of welder programs to 2 or 3 options, you should think out visiting the campuses to evaluate their facilities. Confirm that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are up-to-date. In particular, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be using on the job. If you are uncertain what to look for, and are already in an apprenticeship program, ask the master welder you are working under for guidance. If not, ask a local Rainbow City AL welding professional if they can give you some pointers.
School Location. Although we previously briefly talked about the importance of location, there are a few additional issues that we need to address. You should bear in mind that unless you can relocate, the welder program you select must be within commuting distance of your Rainbow City AL home. If you do opt 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 particularly the case for welder diploma programs offered by community colleges. Additionally, if the school provides a job placement or apprenticeship program, most 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 wish to work.
Smaller Classes. One-on-one training is important for a manual trade such as welding. It's easy to get lost in larger classes and not get much personalized training. Ask what the average class size is for the welding programs you are reviewing. Ask if you can attend a few classes so that you can experience how much individual attention the students are receiving. While there, talk with a few of the students and get their feedback. Also, talk to a couple of the trainers and ask what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they have earned.
Flexible Class Schedules. Some people learn a new profession while still working at their present job. Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Rainbow City AL, confirm that the schools you are assessing provide those choices. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the policy is to make up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
Choose the Right Rainbow City Welding Program for Certification
Selecting the ideal welder school will probably be the most important decision you will make to begin your new profession. As we have covered in this article, there are a number of things that you will need to evaluate and compare among the programs you are looking at. It's a prerequisite that any welding school that you are reviewing includes a lot of hands-on training. Classes should be smaller in size and each student must have their own welding machine to train on. Classroom teaching needs to provide a real-world context, and the course of study should be current and in-line with industry standards. Courses differ in duration and the type of credential offered, so you will have to decide what length of program and credential will best fulfill your needs. Every program offers different options for certification as well. Perhaps The ideal means to research your final list of schools is to go to each campus and speak with the students and faculty. Invest some time to attend some classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the program you choose is the right one for you. With the proper training, effort and commitment, the end result will be a new trade as a professional welder in Rainbow City AL.