How to Select the Best Welder Degree Program near Robertsdale Alabama
Finding the right welding vocational school near Robertsdale AL is an essential first step to beginning your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are so many schools to choose from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more importantly, once you have narrowed down your options, how do you select the right one? A number of prospective students begin by checking out 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 important concerns when examining welder technical schools, but they are not the only ones. Other concerns include such things as reputation, accreditation and job placement rates. So before beginning your search for a trade school to become a welder, it's prudent to develop 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.
Welder Certificate and Degree Programs
There are multiple options available to get training as a welder in a technical or trade school. You can obtain a a certificate, a diploma or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are available in Welding Technology or Welding Engineering, but are more advanced programs than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Below are short descriptions of the most typical welding programs available in the Robertsdale AL area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are usually made available by technical and trade schools and require about 1 year to finish. 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 two years to complete and are most often offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology provides a more extensive education than the certificate or diploma while still providing the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
Some municipalities and states do have licensing requirements for welders, therefore don't forget to check for your location of future employment. As needed, the welding school you pick should ready you for any licensing examinations that you will have to pass in addition to supplying the appropriate training to become a professional welder.
Welding Certification Choices
There are a number of institutions that provide welding certifications, which assess the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Many Robertsdale AL employers not only expect a degree or certificate from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a respected agency like the American Welding Society (AWS). Different certifications are available dependent on the type of work that the welder performs. Just some of the skills that certification can attest to are the welder's ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specified metal thicknesses
- Work with certain types of welds
- Perform based on contract specifications
As formerly stated, many cities, states or local municipalities have licensing requirements 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 a highly skilled and experienced welder. So similarly as with licensing, look into the requirements for your local area and make certain that the welder tech school you choose readies you for certification as needed.
Topics to Ask Welding Trade Programs
As soon as you have chosen the credential you want to attain, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can begin to assess schools. As you can imagine, there are many welder trade and technical schools in the Robertsdale AL area. That's why it's essential to decide in advance what qualifications your selected school must have. We have already covered a couple of important ones that many people look at first, which are location and tuition cost. As stated, although they are essential qualifiers, they are not the only ones that must be considered. After all, the program you pick is going to provide the instruction that will be the foundation of your new profession as a welder. So following are more factors you might want to consider before choosing a welding vocational school.
Accreditation. It's extremely important that the welding technical school you pick is accredited by either a regional or a national agency. There are two basic types of accreditation. The school may attain Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a single program the school offers, for example Welding Technology. So confirm that the program you select is accredited, not just the school itself. Also, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, like the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping make sure that you obtain a superior education, the accreditation can also assist in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases not available in Robertsdale AL for schools that are not accredited. Finally, for those states or local governments that mandate licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited as well.
Apprenticeship and Job Placement Programs. Many welder degree or certificate programs are offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Other schools will assist in placing you in a job or an apprenticeship after graduation. Ask if the schools you are reviewing help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. These schools should 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 placements. These programs can assist students in finding employment and develop relationships within the Robertsdale AL welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that start an educational program and finish it. It's essential that the welding program you choose has a higher completion rate. A reduced rate could 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 caliber of training. A higher job placement rate will not only verify that the program has an excellent reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of Robertsdale AL employer relationships to assist students obtain apprenticeships or employment after graduation.
Up-to-date Equipment and Facilities. Once you have narrowed down your choice of welder programs to 2 or 3 options, you should think out going to the campuses to inspect their facilities. Make sure that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be trained on are modern. Specifically, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be using on the job. If you are unsure what to look for, and are currently in an apprenticeship program, consult with the master welder you are working under for guidance. Otherwise, ask a local Robertsdale AL welding contractor if they can give you some tips.
School Location. Even though we already briefly covered the relevance of location, there are a couple of additional points that we should deal with. You should remember that unless you are able to relocate, the welding school you select needs to be within driving distance of your Robertsdale AL home. If you do choose to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there may be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially true for welding certificate 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 needs to be in a region or state where you subsequently will want to work.
Smaller Classes. One-on-one training is important for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's possible to get lost in larger classes and not obtain much individualized training. Ask what the typical class size is for the welding schools you are reviewing. Inquire if you can sit in on some classes so that you can observe just how much personal attention the students are receiving. While there, speak with some of the students and get their opinions. Similarly, talk with a couple of the instructors and ask what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they have earned.
Convenient Class Scheduling. Many people learn a new trade while still working at their present job. Confirm that the class schedules for the schools you are looking at are convenient enough to satisfy your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Robertsdale AL, make sure that the schools you are considering provide those choices. If you can only attend part-time, verify that the school you choose offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the policy is to make up classes should you miss any due to illness, work or family responsibilities.
Find the Best Robertsdale Welding Training for Certification
Picking the ideal welder training program will undoubtedly be the most important decision you will make to begin your new trade. As we have covered in this article, there are a number of factors that you will need to evaluate and compare among the schools you are considering. It's a must that any welder training that you are assessing includes a lot of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be small in size and each student should have their personal welding machine to train on. Classroom teaching needs to provide a real-world perspective, and the curriculum should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Courses vary in length and the kind of credential provided, so you will need to decide what length of program and degree or certificate will best fulfill your needs. Each program provides unique possibilities for certification as well. Perhaps The ideal approach to research your short list of schools is to go to each campus and speak with the students and faculty. Take the time to sit in on a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the training program you choose is the best one for you. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, the end result will be a new career as a professional welder in Robertsdale AL.