How to Pick the Right Welding Training Classes near Robertsdale Alabama
Finding the ideal welder school near Robertsdale AL is an essential first step to beginning your new career as a professional welder. But since there are so many schools to select from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more importantly, once you have narrowed down your alternatives, how do you pick the best one? A number of prospective students start by reviewing the schools that are nearest to their residences. Once they have located those that are within driving distance, they are drawn toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and tuition cost are crucial issues when examining welder technical schools, but they are not the only ones. Other considerations include such things as accreditation, reputation and job placement rates. So before beginning 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 explore our due diligence checklist, let's cover a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welder Degree and Certificate Training Programs
There are several alternatives available to obtain training as a welder in a trade or vocational school. You can receive 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 brief explanations of the most prevalent welding programs available in the Robertsdale AL area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are normally made available by technical and trade schools and take about a year to finish. They are more hands-on training in scope, fashioned largely to develop welding skills. They can provide a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or additional skills for experienced welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take 2 years to complete and are usually offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology provides a more well-rounded education than the diploma or certificate while still providing the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
Some states and municipalities do have licensing requirements for welders, therefore make sure to find out for your location of potential employment. As needed, the welder school you choose should ready you for any licensing exams that you will need to pass in addition to providing the appropriate training to become a professional welder.
Welder Certification Alternatives
There are various institutions that offer welder certifications, which evaluate the knowledge and skill level of those applying. A large number of Robertsdale AL employers not only require a degree or certificate from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a highly regarded organization like the American Welding Society (AWS). A wide range of certifications are offered based on the type of work that the welder performs. Some of the skills that certification can acknowledge are the welder's ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specified metal thicknesses
- Work with various types of welds
- Operate in compliance with contract specifications
As earlier mentioned, various states, cities or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those requiring licensing, some additionally require certification for various kinds of work. Certification is also a means to prove to employers that you are an exceptionally skilled and knowledgeable welder. So just as with licensing, check the requirements for your location and make certain that the welding technical school you select readies you for certification if needed.
What to Ask Welding Technical Schools
Once you have chosen the credential you want to earn, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can begin to evaluate schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are many welding vocational and trade schools in the Robertsdale AL area. That's why it's important to establish in advance what qualifications your selected school must have. We have previously discussed two significant ones that many people consider first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As stated, although they are essential qualifications, they are not the only ones that need to be looked at. After all, the program you pick 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 want to consider before selecting a welder tech school.
Accreditation. It's essential that the welding technical school you decide on is accredited by either a regional or a national organization. There are 2 basic types 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 make certain that the program you pick is accredited, not just the school itself. Additionally, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, like the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). In addition to helping ensure that you obtain an excellent education, the accreditation may also help in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently not offered in Robertsdale AL for non-accredited schools. Also, for those states or local governments that require licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited also.
Job Assistance and Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of welding degree or diploma programs are offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Various other schools will assist in placing you in a job or an apprenticeship upon graduation. Find out 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 more substantial network of graduates that they can rely upon for referrals. These programs can help students find employment and develop relationships within the Robertsdale AL welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that begin an educational program and finish it. It's important that the welding school you pick has a higher completion rate. A lower rate might indicate that the students who enrolled in the program were unhappy with the instruction, the teachers, 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 verify that the program has an excellent reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of Robertsdale AL employer relationships to help students obtain employment or apprenticeships after graduation.
Up-to-date Facilities and Equipment. After you have limited your choice of welder programs to two or three possibilities, you should think out visiting the campuses to inspect their facilities. Make sure that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be instructed on are modern. In particular, the training equipment should be comparable to what you will be using on the job. If you are uncertain what to look for, and are currently in an apprenticeship program, ask the master welder you are working under for guidance. Otherwise, ask a local Robertsdale 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 issues that we need to address. You should keep in mind that unless you are able to relocate, the welder school you pick must be within commuting distance of your Robertsdale AL home. If you do choose to attend an out-of-state school, apart from relocation expenses there could be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially the case for welder diploma programs offered by community colleges. Also, if the school provides a job placement or apprenticeship program, more than likely their placements are within the school's local community. So the location of the school should be in a region or state where you subsequently will wish to work.
Small Classes. Individualized instruction is essential for a manual 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 programs you are reviewing. Ask if you can attend a couple of classes so that you can see how much individual attention the students are getting. While there, speak with a few of the students and get their opinions. Also, talk to some of the teachers and find out what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they have earned.
Convenient Class Schedules. Lots of folks learn a new profession while still working at their current job. Confirm that the class schedules for the schools you are looking at are convenient enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Robertsdale AL, verify that the schools you are considering offer those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you decide on offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the policy is to make up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family emergencies.
Find the Best Robertsdale Welding Program for Certification
Picking the right welding school will probably be the most important decision you will make to start your new career. As we have covered in this article, there are many things that you will need to evaluate and compare between the programs you are reviewing. It's a prerequisite that any welding training program that you are examining 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 with. Classroom instruction needs to provide a real-world frame of reference, and the training program should be current and conform with industry standards. Programs differ in length and the kind of credential provided, so you will need to determine what length of program and certificate or degree will best serve your needs. Each training program offers different possibilities for certification as well. Probably the best approach to research your final list of schools is to check out each campus and speak 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 program you decide on is the right one for you. With the right training, hard work and dedication, the final result will be a new career as a professional welder in Robertsdale AL.