How to Choose the Best Welder Technical School near Robertsdale Alabama
Locating the ideal welder technical school near Robertsdale AL is an important first step to launching your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are so many schools to select from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more notably, once you have narrowed down your choices, how do you pick the right one? Many people begin by looking at the schools that are nearest to their residences. Once they have found those that are within commuting distance, they are drawn toward the least expensive one. Yes, location and tuition cost are important issues when evaluating welding vocational schools, but they are not the only ones. Other factors include such things as reputation, accreditation and job placement rates. So before starting your search for a vocational school to become a welder, it's sensible to establish a list of qualifications that your chosen school must have. But before we delve into our due diligence checklist, let's cover a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welder Certificate and Degree Training Programs
There are multiple options 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 Engineering or Welding Technology, but are more advanced programs than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Following are brief descriptions of the most common welding programs offered in the Robertsdale AL area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are normally made available by trade and technical schools and require about one year to complete. They are more hands-on training in scope, designed largely to teach 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 finish and are usually offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology furnishes a more extensive education than the certificate or diploma while still providing the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
A number of municipalities and states do have licensing prerequisites for welders, so be sure to find out for your location of potential employment. As required, the welder school you choose should prep you for any licensing exams that you will need to pass in addition to providing the suitable training to become a qualified welder.
Welding Certification Options
There are a number of organizations that offer welding certifications, which assess the skill level and knowledge of those applying. A large number of Robertsdale AL employers not only expect a certificate or degree from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a respected organization like the American Welding Society (AWS). A variety of certifications are available dependent on the type of work that the welder performs. Just some of the skills that certification can acknowledge are the welder's ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specific metal thicknesses
- Work with certain kinds of welds
- Work in compliance with contract specifications
As already stated, various cities, states or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those mandating licensing, a number additionally require certification for various types of work. Certification is also a means to prove to employers that you are an extremely skilled and qualified welder. So just as with licensing, look into the requirements for your local area and make sure that the welding technical school you select preps you for certification if needed.
What to Ask Welder Tech Schools
Once you have chosen the credential you would like to attain, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can start to evaluate schools. As you probably know, there are a large number of welder trade and technical schools in the Robertsdale AL area. That's why it's necessary to establish up front what qualifications your selected school must have. We have previously covered 2 significant ones that most people look at first, which are location and tuition cost. As mentioned, although they are very important qualifiers, they are not the only ones that should be considered. After all, the school you choose is going to provide the instruction that will be the foundation of your new profession as a welder. So following are some additional factors you might need to evaluate before choosing a welder technical 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 two basic kinds of accreditation. The school may receive Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a single program the school has, for example Welding Technology. So confirm 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 organization, for example the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). In addition to helping make sure that you receive a superior education, the accreditation can also help in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are often not offered in Robertsdale AL for schools that are not accredited. Also, for those states or local governments that require licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited also.
Job Placement and Apprenticeship Programs. Many welder diploma or degree programs are provided in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Some other schools will help place you in an apprenticeship or a job after graduation. Find out if the schools you are considering assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. These schools should have partnerships with local unions and various metal working businesses to which they can refer their students. Older 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 associations within the Robertsdale AL welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that start an academic program and finish it. It's crucial that the welder school you select has a high completion rate. A reduced rate might signify that the students who were in the program were dissatisfied with the instruction, the teachers, or the facilities, and dropped out. The job placement rate is also a good indicator of the quality of training. A high job placement rate will not only verify that the school has an excellent reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of Robertsdale AL employer relationships to assist students secure employment or apprenticeships upon graduation.
Modern Equipment and Facilities. Once you have limited your selection of welding schools to 2 or 3 possibilities, you should consider visiting the campuses to evaluate their facilities. Verify 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 in the field. 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 Robertsdale AL welding professional if they can give you some suggestions.
School Location. Even though we previously briefly covered the relevance of location, there are a couple of additional issues that we should cover. You should remember that unless you have the ability to move, the welder school you select needs to be within commuting distance of your Robertsdale AL home. If you do decide to attend an out-of-state school, apart from relocation costs there may be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially true for welding diploma 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 ultimately will wish to work.
Smaller Classes. One-on-one training is important for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's possible to be overlooked in larger classes and not obtain much individualized training. Ask what the usual class size is for the welder schools you are reviewing. Inquire if you can attend some classes so that you can observe how much personal attention the students are getting. While there, speak with some of the students and get their opinions. Similarly, talk to a few of the teachers and ask what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they have earned.
Flexible Class Scheduling. Some people learn a new profession while still employed at their present job. Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are flexible enough to satisfy your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Robertsdale AL, make certain that the schools you are considering provide those choices. If you can only enroll part-time, make sure that the school you pick offers part-time enrollment. Also, check to see what the protocol is to make up classes should you miss any due to illness, work or family circumstances.
Choose the Best Robertsdale Welding Program for Certification
Choosing the best welding school will undoubtedly be the most important decision you will make to launch your new trade. As we have addressed in this article, there are many things that you will need to evaluate and compare among the schools you are looking at. It's a must that any welder school that you are evaluating includes a good deal of hands-on instruction. Classes should be smaller in size and every student must have their personal welding machine to train on. Classroom teaching needs to provide a real-world frame of reference, and the curriculum should be current and in-line with industry standards. Programs vary in duration and the kind of credential offered, so you will need to decide what length of program and certificate or degree will best satisfy your needs. Each program offers unique options for certification also. Probably The ideal way to research your final list of schools is to visit each campus and speak with the faculty and students. Take the time to attend a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the program you decide on is the right one for you. With the right training, hard work and commitment, the end result will be a new career as a professional welder in Robertsdale AL.