How to Pick the Best Welding Training Program near Rainbow City Alabama
Finding the right welder technical school near Rainbow City AL is an important first step to starting your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are a lot of schools to select from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more notably, once you have fine tuned your options, how do you pick the right 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 driving distance, they gravitate toward the least expensive one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are necessary considerations when evaluating welding vocational schools, but they are not the only ones. Other considerations include such things as reputation, accreditation and job placement rates. So before initiating your search for a trade school to become a welder, it's sensible to create a list of qualifications that your selected 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
There are several alternatives available to receive training as a welder in a trade or vocational 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 programs than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available along with an apprenticeship program. Following are short descriptions of the most prevalent welding programs available in the Rainbow City AL area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are generally made available by technical and trade schools and take about 1 year to finish. They are more hands-on training in scope, fashioned primarily to teach welding skills. They can furnish 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 usually 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 prepares students to enter the workforce.
A number of municipalities and states do have licensing prerequisites for welders, so be sure to check for your location of potential employment. If needed, the welding school you pick should prep you for any licensing examinations that you will need to pass in addition to furnishing the appropriate training to become a qualified welder.
Welding Certification Alternatives
There are multiple institutions that provide welder certifications, which test the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Many Rainbow City AL employers not only expect 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 offered based on the type of work that the welder does. Just some of the skills that certification can acknowledge are the welder's ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specified metal thicknesses
- Work with certain kinds of welds
- Operate according to contract specifications
As already stated, various cities, states or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those requiring licensing, a number also require certification for various kinds of work. Certification is also a means to prove to employers that you are an exceptionally skilled and qualified welder. So just as with licensing, look into the requirements for your local area and make sure that the welder technical school you choose prepares you for certification if needed.
What to Ask Welder Vocational Programs
Once you have decided on the credential you would like to attain, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can begin to assess schools. As you probably know, there are a large number of welding trade and vocational schools in the Rainbow City AL area. That's why it's important to decide in advance what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have already covered two important ones that many people consider first, which are location and tuition cost. As stated, although they are very important qualifications, they are not the only ones that must 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 following are some additional factors you may need to consider before selecting a welder tech school.
Accreditation. It's extremely important that the welder technical school you pick is accredited by either a regional or a national organization. There are two 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 certain that the program you pick is accredited, not just the school alone. Additionally, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, such as the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). In addition to helping make sure that you get a quality education, the accreditation can also help in securing financial aid or student loans, which are often not offered in Rainbow City AL for schools that are not accredited. Finally, for those states or municipalities that require licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited as well.
Apprenticeship and Job Placement Programs. Many welder diploma or degree programs are provided combined with an apprenticeship program. Other schools will assist in placing you in an apprenticeship or a job after graduation. Ask if the schools you are considering 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. Older schools may have a more substantial network of graduates that they can utilize for placements. These programs can assist students in finding employment and develop associations within the Rainbow City AL welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that begin an educational program and complete it. It's crucial that the welder program you select has a high completion rate. A reduced rate might indicate that the students who were in the program were unhappy with the training, 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 confirm that the program has an excellent reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of Rainbow City AL employer relationships to assist students secure employment or apprenticeships upon graduation.
Up-to-date Facilities and Equipment. After you have decreased your selection of welder schools to two or three possibilities, you should consider going to the campuses to look over their facilities. Confirm that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are up-to-date. Specifically, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be working with on the job. If you are uncertain what to look for, and are currently in an apprenticeship program, consult with the master welder you are working under for guidance. If not, ask a local Rainbow City 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 couple of additional points that we need to address. You should keep in mind that unless you are able to relocate, the welder program you pick needs to be within driving distance of your Rainbow City AL home. If you do opt to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides moving expenses there could be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly true for welding degree programs offered by community colleges. Furthermore, if the school provides a job placement or apprenticeship program, more than likely their placements are within the school's regional community. So the location of the school should be in a region or state where you subsequently will desire to work.
Smaller Classes. One-on-one instruction is important for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's easy to get lost in larger classes and not receive much one-on-one training. Ask what the typical class size is for the welder schools you are reviewing. Inquire if you can attend some classes so that you can witness how much personal attention the students are getting. While there, speak with some of the students and get their evaluations. Also, talk to a few of the teachers and find out what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they hold.
Convenient Class Schedules. Many people learn a new trade while still employed at their present job. Check to see that the class schedules for the schools you are considering are convenient enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Rainbow City AL, make sure that the schools you are assessing offer those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, confirm 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 due to work, sickness or family emergencies.
Find the Right Rainbow City Welding Training for Certification
Selecting the ideal welder school will undoubtedly be the most important decision you will make to start your new profession. As we have discussed in this article, there are several things that you will need to evaluate and compare among the schools you are considering. It's a necessity that any welder training program that you are assessing includes a good deal of hands-on training. Classes need to be small in size and each student should have their own 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. Courses differ 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. Each training program provides different options for certification also. Perhaps The ideal approach to research your short list of schools is to go to each campus and talk with the teachers and students. Invest some time to attend a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the training program you select is the ideal one for you. With the proper training, effort and commitment, the end outcome will be a new occupation as a professional welder in Rainbow City AL.