How to Choose the Best Welding Certification Program near Rainbow City Alabama
Choosing the ideal welding trade school near Rainbow City AL is an important first step to beginning your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are a lot of schools to choose from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more notably, once you have fine tuned your options, how do you pick the best one? Many people start by checking out the schools that are nearest to their homes. When they have located those that are within commuting distance, they are drawn toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are crucial concerns when examining welding trade schools, but they are not the only ones. Other considerations include such things as reputation, accreditation and job placement rates. So before beginning your search for a vocational school to become a welder, it's prudent to develop 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 Training
There are several alternatives available to obtain 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 degrees than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Below are brief summaries of the most typical welding programs offered in the Rainbow City AL area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are generally offered by trade and technical schools and take about a year to complete. They are more hands-on training in nature, fashioned mainly to develop welding skills. They can provide a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or supplemental skills for experienced welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take 2 years to finish and are most often offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology provides a more well-rounded education than the certificate or diploma while still providing the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
Many municipalities and states do have licensing requirements for welders, so make sure to check for your location of future employment. As needed, the welder school you pick should ready you for any licensing exams that you will have to take in addition to furnishing the proper training to become a qualified welder.
Welder Certification Alternatives
There are multiple institutions that offer welding certifications, which assess the knowledge and skill level of those applying. A large number of Rainbow City AL employers not only require a degree or certificate from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a renowned organization like the American Welding Society (AWS). Different certifications are offered based on the kind of work that the welder does. Some of the things that certification can acknowledge are the welder's ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with certain metal thicknesses
- Work with various types of welds
- Work in compliance with contract specifications
As formerly stated, some cities, states or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those requiring licensing, a number additionally require certification for different types of work. Certification is also a way to demonstrate to employers that you are an extremely skilled and qualified welder. So similarly as with licensing, check the requirements for your local area and verify that the welding technical school you select prepares you for certification if needed.
Topics to Ask Welding Trade Programs
When you have decided on the credential you want to attain, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can start to compare 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 essential to determine in advance what qualifications your selected school must have. We have already discussed two important ones that most people consider first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As stated, although they are essential qualifiers, they are not the only ones that need to be considered. After all, the program you decide on is going to furnish the education that will be the foundation of your new career as a welder. So following are more factors you might need to evaluate before selecting a welding trade school.
Accreditation. It's very important that the welding tech school you decide on is accredited by either a regional or a national agency. There are two standard kinds of accreditation. The school may earn Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a specific program the school has, for instance Welding Technology. So confirm that the program you choose is accredited, not just the school itself. Additionally, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, for example the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping make sure that you receive a superior education, the accreditation might also assist in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are often not available in Rainbow City AL for non-accredited schools. Also, for those states or municipalities that mandate licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited as well.
Job Assistance and Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of welding degree or diploma programs are provided combined with an apprenticeship program. Other schools will assist in placing you in a job or an apprenticeship after graduation. Find out if the schools you are reviewing assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. The schools must 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 help students find employment and establish relationships within the Rainbow City AL welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that begin an instructional program and finish it. It's crucial that the welding program you choose has a higher completion rate. A reduced rate might indicate that the students who joined the program were dissatisfied with the training, the instructors, or the facilities, and quit. The job placement rate is also an indication of the caliber of training. A high job placement rate will not only confirm that the program has a good reputation within the trade, but additionally that it has the network of Rainbow City AL employer relationships to help students obtain employment or apprenticeships upon graduation.
Up-to-date Facilities and Equipment. Once you have decreased your choice of welding schools to 2 or 3 options, you should think out going to the campuses to look over their facilities. Verify that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be trained on are modern. In particular, the training equipment should be comparable to what you will be working with in the field. If you are unsure 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 a few tips.
School Location. Even though we previously briefly discussed the significance of location, there are a couple of additional issues that we should address. You should keep in mind that unless you are able to relocate, the welding program you pick must be within commuting distance of your Rainbow City AL home. If you do opt to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation expenses there could be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially true for welding diploma programs offered by community colleges. Additionally, if the school offers an apprenticeship or job placement program, often their placements are within the school's local community. So the location of the school should be in an area or state where you subsequently will want to work.
Smaller Classes. Personalized training is important for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's possible to be overlooked in larger classes and not obtain much one-on-one instruction. Ask what the average class size is for the welding programs you are looking at. Inquire if you can attend some classes so that you can witness how much personal attention the students are receiving. While there, speak with several of the students and get their feedback. Similarly, talk with some of the instructors and find out 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 present job. Confirm that the class schedules for the schools you are reviewing are flexible enough to satisfy your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Rainbow City AL, make certain that the schools you are considering provide those options. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you choose offers part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the protocol is to make up classes if you you miss any due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Find the Best Rainbow City Welding School for Certification
Choosing the best welding school will undoubtedly be the most critical decision you will make to start your new profession. As we have covered in this article, there are several factors that you will need to evaluate and compare between the schools you are looking at. It's a prerequisite that any welder training program that you are evaluating includes a considerable amount of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be small in size and each student should have their personal welding machine to train with. Classroom teaching needs to provide a real-world frame of reference, and the training program should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Training programs differ in length and the type of credential offered, so you will need to ascertain what length of program and credential will best serve your needs. Every training program provides different possibilities for certification also. Perhaps the best way to research your short list of schools is to go to each campus and speak with the students and faculty. Invest some time to monitor a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the training program you select is the right one for you. With the proper training, effort and dedication, the final outcome will be a new career as a professional welder in Rainbow City AL.