How to Find the Right Welder Certification Course near Russellville Alabama
Finding the ideal welder school near Russellville AL is an important first step to beginning your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are numerous schools to pick from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more significantly, once you have narrowed down your options, how do you select the best one? Many prospective students start by checking out the schools that are closest to their homes. Once they have identified those that are within commuting distance, they gravitate toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are crucial concerns when reviewing welding technical schools, but they are not the only ones. Other concerns 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 wise to develop a list of qualifications that your selected school must have. But before we delve into our due diligence checklist, let's talk a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welder Degree and Certificate Training
There are a number of alternatives available to get training as a welder in a trade or vocational school. You can obtain a diploma, a certificate or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are available in Welding Engineering or Welding Technology, but are more advanced courses than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also offered along with an apprenticeship program. Below are brief descriptions of the most prevalent welding programs offered in the Russellville AL area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are usually made available by trade and technical schools and take about one year to complete. They are more hands-on training in nature, designed largely to develop welding skills. They can furnish a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or specialized skills for working welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take 2 years to complete and are usually offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology furnishes a more extensive education than the diploma or certificate while still providing the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
Many states and municipalities do have licensing prerequisites for welders, so don't forget to find out for your location of future employment. As needed, the welder 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.
Welder Certification Alternatives
There are several institutions that offer welder certifications, which test the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Many Russellville AL employers not only expect a degree or certificate from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a renowned organization like the American Welding Society (AWS). A wide range of certifications are available based upon the kind of work that the welder does. Some of the things that certification can acknowledge are the welder's ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specified metal thicknesses
- Work with certain types of welds
- Work in compliance with contract specifications
As earlier stated, various states, cities or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those mandating licensing, some additionally require certification for various types of work. Certification is also a means to demonstrate to employers that you are an extremely skilled and qualified welder. So similarly as with licensing, look into the requirements for your location and make certain that the welding vocational school you select prepares you for certification if needed.
Subjects to Ask Welder Trade Programs
As soon as you have decided on the credential you would like to earn, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can start to evaluate schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are many welder trade and technical schools in the Russellville AL area. That's why it's essential to establish in advance what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have previously covered a couple of important ones that most people consider first, which are location and tuition cost. As mentioned, although they are essential qualifications, they are not the only ones that should be looked at. After all, the school you choose 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 evaluate before selecting a welder technical school.
Accreditation. It's extremely important that the welder vocational school you pick is accredited by either a national or a regional organization. There are two standard 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, such as Welding Technology. So make sure that the program you pick is accredited, not just the school alone. Additionally, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, like the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping make sure that you obtain an excellent education, the accreditation may also assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable in Russellville AL for schools that are not accredited. Finally, for those states or municipalities that mandate licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited as well.
Apprenticeship and Job Placement Programs. A large number of welder degree or diploma programs are offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Some other schools will assist in placing you in an apprenticeship or a job after graduation. Find out if the schools you are reviewing assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. The schools should have associations with local unions and various metal working businesses to which they can refer their students. More established schools may have a larger network of graduates that they can utilize for placements. These programs can assist students in finding employment and develop relationships within the Russellville 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 welder program you pick has a higher completion rate. A reduced rate might mean that the students who joined the program were unhappy with the training, the instructors, or the facilities, and dropped out. The job placement rate is also a good indicator of the caliber of training. A higher job placement rate will not only confirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of Russellville AL employer relationships to help students obtain employment or apprenticeships upon graduation.
Modern Facilities and Equipment. After you have narrowed down your choice of welding schools to two or three options, you should think out visiting the campuses to evaluate their facilities. Make sure that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are modern. Specifically, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be working with 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 Russellville AL welding contractor if they can give you a few pointers.
School Location. Although we already briefly talked about the importance of location, there are a few additional points that we need to cover. You should remember that unless you are able to move, the welding school you choose must be within commuting distance of your Russellville AL home. If you do choose to attend an out-of-state school, apart from moving expenses there could be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially the case for welder degree programs offered by community colleges. Also, if the school provides an apprenticeship or job placement program, often their placements are within the school's local community. So the location of the school should be in an area or state where you subsequently will want to work.
Small Classes. Personalized training is essential for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's possible to be lost in bigger classes and not receive much individualized instruction. Ask what the typical class size is for the welding schools you are looking at. Ask if you can attend a couple of classes so that you can observe just how much individual attention the students are getting. While there, talk with several of the students and get their evaluations. Also, speak with some of the instructors and find out what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they have earned.
Flexible Class Scheduling. Lots of folks learn a new trade while still working at their current job. Confirm that the class schedules for the schools you are reviewing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Russellville AL, verify that the schools you are assessing offer those choices. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, confirm that the school you decide on offers part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the policy is to make up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family emergencies.
Find the Best Russellville Welding School for Certification
Choosing the ideal welding school will probably be the most important decision you will make to start your new trade. As we have covered in this article, there are a number of factors that you will need to examine and compare between the schools you are looking at. It's a must that any welding training that you are considering includes a lot of hands-on training. Classes need to be small in size and every student should have their own welding machine to train on. Classroom instruction needs to offer a real-world frame of reference, and the curriculum should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Training programs vary in duration and the type of credential offered, so you will have to ascertain what length of program and certificate or degree will best fulfill your needs. Every program offers unique options for certification also. Perhaps The ideal approach to research your final list of schools is to go to each campus and talk with the faculty and students. Invest some time to sit in on some classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the program you choose is the ideal one for you. With the right training, hard work and commitment, the end outcome will be a new trade as a professional welder in Russellville AL.