How to Pick the Best Welder Trade School near Rainbow City Alabama
Selecting the ideal welding vocational school near Rainbow City AL is an essential first step to beginning your new career 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 significantly, once you have narrowed down your choices, how do you pick the best one? Many people begin by looking at the schools that are nearest to their homes. Once they have identified those that are within commuting distance, they gravitate toward the least costly one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are necessary considerations when reviewing welder technical schools, but they are not the only ones. Other factors 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 prudent to establish a list of qualifications that your chosen school must have. But before we explore our due diligence checklist, let's cover a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welding Degree and Certificate Training
There are a number of alternatives available 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 offered in Welding Technology or Welding Engineering, but are more advanced programs than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also offered along with an apprenticeship program. Following are short summaries of the most prevalent welding programs available in the Rainbow City AL area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are usually made available by trade and technical schools and take about one year to finish. They are more hands-on training in nature, created mainly to develop welding skills. They can provide a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or supplemental skills for working welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take two years to finish 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 supplying the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
Some states and municipalities do have licensing prerequisites for welders, so make sure to check for your location of potential employment. If required, the welding school you pick should prepare you for any licensing exams that you will have to pass in addition to supplying the proper training to become a professional welder.
Welding Certification Choices
There are multiple organizations that offer welding certifications, which evaluate the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Many Rainbow City AL employers not only require a degree or certificate from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a respected agency such as the American Welding Society (AWS). A variety of certifications are available based upon the kind of work that the welder does. A few of the things that certification can acknowledge are the welder's ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specified metal thicknesses
- Work with various kinds of welds
- Perform based on contract specifications
As formerly stated, some states, cities or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those requiring licensing, a number additionally require certification for various types of work. Certification is also a means to prove to employers that you are a highly skilled and knowledgeable welder. So just as with licensing, look into the requirements for your local area and make sure that the welder tech school you select readies you for certification as needed.
Topics to Ask Welder Trade Schools
When you have chosen the credential you want to attain, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can start to assess schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are many welding vocational and trade schools in the Rainbow City AL area. That's why it's necessary to determine up front what qualifications your selected school must have. We have previously covered 2 important ones that many people look at first, which are location and tuition cost. As mentioned, although they are essential qualifiers, they are not the only ones that should be looked at. After all, the school you select is going to provide the training that will be the foundation of your new profession as a welder. So below are more factors you might need to evaluate before selecting a welding tech school.
Accreditation. It's extremely important that the welder trade school you choose is accredited by either a national or a regional agency. There are two basic types of accreditation. The school may receive Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a specific program the school offers, such as Welding Technology. So make sure that the program you pick is accredited, not just the school alone. Also, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, such as the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). In addition to helping ensure that you obtain a superior education, the accreditation can also help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases not available in Rainbow City AL for non-accredited schools. Finally, for those states or local governments that require licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited as well.
Apprenticeship and Job Assistance Programs. Many welder diploma or degree programs are offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Some other schools will help place 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 placement program. The schools must have associations with local unions and other metal working businesses to which they can refer 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.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that begin an educational program and finish it. It's important that the welder program you select has a high completion rate. A lower rate may indicate that the students who joined the program were dissatisfied with the instruction, the instructors, or the facilities, and quit. The job placement rate is also an indication of the quality of training. A higher job placement rate will not only affirm that the program has a good reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of Rainbow City AL contacts to assist students secure apprenticeships or employment upon graduation.
Modern Facilities and Equipment. Once you have decreased your choice of welding 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 not sure 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. Even though we previously briefly discussed the relevance of location, there are a few additional points that we should deal with. You should keep in mind that unless you are able to relocate, the welder school you pick must be within driving distance of your Rainbow City AL home. If you do opt to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs 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 an apprenticeship or job placement 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 subsequently will wish to work.
Small Classes. One-on-one instruction is essential for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's easy to get overlooked in larger classes and not receive much personalized training. Ask what the typical class size is for the welder schools you are considering. Ask if you can attend a few classes so that you can see how much personal attention the students are getting. While there, talk with several of the students and get their evaluations. Similarly, talk with a couple of the trainers and ask what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they hold.
Flexible Class Schedules. Some people learn a new profession while still employed at their current job. Confirm that the class schedules for the schools you are reviewing are flexible enough to satisfy 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 looking at provide those alternatives. If you can only attend part-time, verify that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, check to see what the protocol is to make up classes if you you miss any because of illness, work or family circumstances.
Choose the Right Rainbow City Welding Program for Certification
Selecting the right welding training program will undoubtedly be the most important decision you will make to launch your new trade. As we have covered in this article, there are several factors that you will need to evaluate and compare between the schools you are reviewing. It's a prerequisite that any welding training that you are evaluating includes a good deal of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be small in size and each student must have their own welding machine to train on. Classroom education needs to offer a real-world perspective, and the course of study should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Programs vary in length and the type of credential offered, so you will have to decide what length of program and certificate or degree will best fulfill your needs. Each program offers unique possibilities for certification also. Perhaps the best means to research your short list of schools is to go to each campus and talk with the faculty and students. Invest some time to attend some classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the training program you pick is the best one for you. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, the final result will be a new occupation as a professional welder in Rainbow City AL.