How to Pick the Right Welding Training Program near Russellville Alabama
Finding the right welder technical school near Russellville AL is an important first step to beginning your new career as a professional welder. But since there are numerous schools to pick from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more significantly, once you have fine tuned your options, how do you pick the right one? A number of prospective students begin by reviewing the schools that are nearest to their residences. When they have located those that are within driving distance, they gravitate toward the least costly one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are crucial issues when evaluating welding trade schools, but they are not the only ones. Other concerns include such things as accreditation, reputation and job placement rates. So before beginning your search for a vocational school to become a welder, it's prudent to develop a list of qualifications that your selected school must have. But before we explore our due diligence checklist, let's cover a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welding Certificate and Degree Training Classes
There are several options available to obtain training as a welder in a trade or technical school. You can earn a diploma, a certificate or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are available in Welding Technology or Welding Engineering, but are more advanced courses than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available along with an apprenticeship program. Below are short descriptions of the most common welding programs offered in the Russellville AL area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are usually offered by technical and trade schools and require about one year to complete. They are more hands-on training in scope, designed mainly to develop welding skills. They can furnish a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or supplemental skills for working 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 diploma or certificate while still furnishing the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
Some municipalities and states do have licensing prerequisites for welders, therefore be sure to check for your location of future employment. If needed, the welding school you select should prep you for any licensing examinations that you will have to take in addition to providing the appropriate training to become a qualified welder.
Welding Certification Options
There are several institutions that provide welding 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 such as the American Welding Society (AWS). Different certifications are offered based upon the kind of work that the welder performs. 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 specific kinds of welds
- Work according to contract specifications
As earlier mentioned, various cities, states or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those requiring licensing, many also require certification for various types 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 verify that the welding trade school you choose readies you for certification if needed.
Questions to Ask Welder Vocational Schools
After you have chosen the credential you would like to attain, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can begin to compare schools. As you probably know, there are many welder trade and technical schools in the Russellville AL area. That's why it's important to decide in advance what qualifications your selected school must have. We have already covered 2 significant ones that most people consider first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As mentioned, although they are very important qualifiers, they are not the only ones that need to be considered. After all, the school you decide on is going to furnish the instruction that will be the foundation of your new career as a welder. So below are more factors you may need to consider before choosing a welding trade school.
Accreditation. It's very important that the welder vocational school you decide on is accredited by either a regional or a national organization. There are two standard kinds of accreditation. The school may earn Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on an individual program the school offers, for example Welding Technology. So confirm that the program you choose is accredited, not just the school alone. 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). In addition to helping ensure that you receive a quality education, the accreditation may also assist in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are often not offered in Russellville AL for non-accredited schools. Finally, for those states or municipalities that require licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited also.
Apprenticeship and Job Placement Programs. A large number of welder degree or certificate programs are provided in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Other schools will help place you in an apprenticeship or a job upon graduation. Ask if the schools you are looking at assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. These schools must have relationships with local unions and other metal working businesses to which they can refer their students. Older schools may have a larger network of graduates that they can utilize for placements. These programs can assist students in finding employment and establish associations within the Russellville AL welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that enroll in an academic program and finish it. It's crucial that the welding program you choose has a high completion rate. A low rate may indicate that the students who joined the program were unhappy 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 verify that the school has an excellent reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of Russellville AL contacts to help students obtain employment or apprenticeships after graduation.
Up-to-date Facilities and Equipment. After you have limited your selection of welder schools to two or three options, you should think out going to the campuses to inspect their facilities. Verify 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 working with on the job. If you are uncertain 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 Russellville AL welding contractor if they can give you a few pointers.
School Location. Even though we already briefly talked about the relevance of location, there are a couple of additional points that we need to address. You should remember that unless you have the ability to relocate, the welding program you choose must be within driving distance of your Russellville AL home. If you do choose to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides relocation expenses there might be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly true for welding certificate programs offered by community colleges. Additionally, 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 an area or state where you subsequently will desire to work.
Smaller Classes. Personalized instruction is important for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's easy to be overlooked in larger classes and not obtain much one-on-one training. Find out what the typical class size is for the welding programs you are looking at. Inquire if you can sit in on some classes so that you can observe how much personal attention the students are getting. While there, speak with a few of the students and get their evaluations. Similarly, chat with a few of the teachers and find out what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they hold.
Convenient Class Scheduling. Many people learn a new trade while still employed at their present job. Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are considering are convenient enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Russellville AL, make certain that the schools you are considering provide 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 because of work, sickness or family circumstances.
Find the Best Russellville Welding Training for Certification
Selecting 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 a number of factors that you will need to evaluate and compare between the programs you are looking at. It's a prerequisite that any welder school that you are examining includes a considerable amount of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be smaller in size and every student should have their own welding machine to train with. Classroom teaching needs to provide a real-world perspective, and the curriculum should be current and in-line with industry standards. Courses vary in duration and the kind of credential offered, so you will have to ascertain what length of program and credential will best serve your needs. Each training program offers unique options for certification also. Probably The ideal means to research your final list of schools is to check out each campus and speak with the faculty and students. Take the time to attend some classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the school you pick is the right one for you. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, the final result will be a new career as a professional welder in Russellville AL.