How to Pick the Best Welding Degree Program near Rainsville Alabama
Choosing the ideal welding trade school near Rainsville AL is an important first step to beginning 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 importantly, once you have narrowed down 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 homes. When they have found those that are within commuting distance, they gravitate toward the least expensive one. Yes, location and tuition cost are necessary issues when evaluating welding trade 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 vocational school to become a welder, it's wise to create a list of qualifications that your selected 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 multiple 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 offered in Welding Technology or Welding Engineering, but are more advanced programs than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available combined with an apprenticeship program. Following are short explanations of the most common welding programs offered in the Rainsville AL area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are generally offered by technical and trade schools and take about a year to finish. They are more hands-on training in nature, designed largely to teach welding skills. They can furnish a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or additional skills for experienced welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take 2 years to finish and are usually offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology offers a more well-rounded education than the diploma or certificate while still providing the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
Many states and municipalities do have licensing prerequisites for welders, so be sure to find out for your location of future employment. As required, the welding school you pick should prep you for any licensing exams that you will have to take in addition to furnishing the suitable training to become a professional welder.
Welder Certification Options
There are multiple institutions that offer welding certifications, which evaluate the skill level and knowledge of those applying. A large number of Rainsville AL employers not only expect a certificate or degree from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a highly regarded agency such as the American Welding Society (AWS). A wide range of certifications are offered based upon the type of work that the welder does. Just some of the things that certification can attest to are the welder's ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with certain metal thicknesses
- Work with various types of welds
- Perform according to contract specifications
As already mentioned, many states, cities or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those calling for licensing, some also require certification for various types of work. Certification is also a means to demonstrate to employers that you are an exceptionally skilled and experienced welder. So just as with licensing, look into the requirements for your local area and confirm that the welding vocational school you select preps you for certification if needed.
What to Ask Welding Tech Programs
After you have decided on the credential you want to attain, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can begin to assess schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are numerous welder vocational and trade schools in the Rainsville AL area. That's why it's essential to determine up front what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have previously covered two significant ones that most people look at first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As mentioned, although they are very important qualifications, they are not the only ones that must be looked at. After all, the school you decide on is going to provide the instruction that will be the foundation of your new career as a welder. So following are some additional factors you may want to consider before picking a welding vocational school.
Accreditation. It's extremely important that the welder vocational school you choose is accredited by either a regional or a national organization. There are 2 basic kinds of accreditation. The school may attain Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on an individual program the school offers, such as Welding Technology. So confirm that the program you select is accredited, not just the school alone. Additionally, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, such as the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping ensure that you obtain an excellent education, the accreditation may also help in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are often not offered in Rainsville AL for schools that are not accredited. Also, for those states or municipalities that require licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited also.
Apprenticeship and Job Placement Programs. Numerous welder degree or diploma programs are provided combined with an apprenticeship program. Other schools will help place you in an apprenticeship or a job upon graduation. Ask if the schools you are reviewing assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement 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 more substantial network of graduates that they can utilize for placements. These programs can assist students in finding employment and establish associations within the Rainsville AL welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that begin an educational program and complete it. It's crucial that the welding program you select has a high completion rate. A lower rate might signify that the students who joined the program were dissatisfied with the instruction, the teachers, or the facilities, and quit. The job placement rate is also a good indicator of the quality of training. A high job placement rate will not only confirm that the school has a good reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of Rainsville AL employer relationships to help students secure apprenticeships or employment after graduation.
Up-to-date Equipment and Facilities. Once you have limited your choice of welder schools to two or three options, you should think out going to the campuses to evaluate their facilities. Make sure that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be instructed on are up-to-date. Specifically, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be using in the field. If you are unsure what to look for, and are currently in an apprenticeship program, ask the master welder you are working under for guidance. If not, ask a local Rainsville AL welding contractor if they can give you a few tips.
School Location. Even though we already briefly covered the significance of location, there are a few additional points that we need to deal with. You should remember that unless you can relocate, the welding program you select must be within commuting distance of your Rainsville AL home. If you do opt to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there may be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially true for welder degree programs offered by community colleges. Also, if the school offers a job placement or apprenticeship program, most likely 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 desire to work.
Small Classes. Individualized instruction is important for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's possible to get lost in larger classes and not get much personalized instruction. Find out what the typical class size is for the welder schools you are considering. Ask if you can sit in on some classes so that you can witness how much individual attention the students are receiving. While there, talk with a few of the students and get their evaluations. 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 employed at their current 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 Rainsville AL, make certain that the schools you are looking at provide those options. If you can only enroll part-time, confirm that the school you pick offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the policy is to make up classes if you you miss any because of illness, work or family responsibilities.
Find the Right Rainsville Welding Course for Certification
Selecting the best welding training program will probably be the most critical decision you will make to start your new profession. As we have addressed in this article, there are a number of factors that you will need to examine and compare among the schools you are considering. It's a must that any welder training program that you are evaluating includes a good deal of hands-on training. Classes need to be smaller in size and every student must have their personal welding machine to train on. Classroom teaching should offer a real-world frame of reference, and the course of study should be current and conform 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 serve your needs. Each program provides different options for certification as well. Probably The ideal means to research your short list of schools is to go to each campus and talk with the teachers and students. Take the time to sit in on a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the program you choose is the ideal one for you. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, the end outcome will be a new career as a professional welder in Rainsville AL.