How to Select the Right Welding Certificate Program near Russellville Alabama
Choosing the ideal welding school near Russellville AL is an essential first step to launching your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are a lot of schools to select from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more significantly, once you have narrowed down your options, how do you pick the right one? A number of people begin by checking out the schools that are closest to their homes. Once they have identified those that are within driving distance, they are drawn toward the least costly one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are crucial considerations when reviewing welding technical schools, but they are not the only ones. Other considerations include such things as reputation, accreditation and job placement rates. So before initiating your search for a vocational school to become a welder, it's wise to establish 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.
Welding Degree and Certificate Training Classes
There are multiple options available to get training as a welder in a trade or technical school. You can earn a a certificate, a diploma or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are available in Welding Technology or Welding Engineering, but are more advanced degrees than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available along with an apprenticeship program. Below are short explanations of the most common welding programs available in the Russellville AL area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are usually made available by technical and trade schools and require about 1 year to complete. They are more hands-on training in scope, created primarily 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 complete and are usually offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology furnishes a more well-rounded education than the certificate or diploma while still supplying the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
Some municipalities and states do have licensing requirements for welders, so make sure to find out for your location of potential employment. As needed, the welder school you select should ready you for any licensing examinations that you will have to pass in addition to providing the appropriate training to become a professional welder.
Welder Certification Options
There are multiple organizations that provide welding certifications, which evaluate the knowledge and skill level of those applying. A large number of Russellville AL employers not only demand a degree or certificate from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a respected agency like the American Welding Society (AWS). A variety of certifications are offered dependent on the type of work that the welder performs. A few of the skills that certification can attest to are the welder's ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specific metal thicknesses
- Work with specific kinds of welds
- Operate according to contract specifications
As earlier stated, various cities, states or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those requiring licensing, some also require certification for various types of work. Certification is also a means to demonstrate to employers that you are a highly skilled and qualified welder. So similarly as with licensing, look into the requirements for your local area and make sure that the welding tech school you decide on prepares you for certification as needed.
Questions to Ask Welder Tech Programs
Once you have decided on the credential you want to attain, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can begin to compare schools. As you probably know, there are numerous welder trade and technical schools in the Russellville AL area. That's why it's essential to establish in advance what qualifications your selected school must have. We have already discussed a couple of important ones that most people look at first, which are location and tuition cost. As mentioned, although they are essential qualifiers, they are not the only ones that should be considered. After all, the school you pick is going to provide the education that will be the foundation of your new profession as a welder. So following are more factors you might want to consider before selecting a welder technical school.
Accreditation. It's extremely important that the welding vocational school you select is accredited by either a national or a regional organization. There are 2 standard kinds of accreditation. The school may attain 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 sure that the program you choose is accredited, not just the school itself. Also, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, like 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 might also help in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable in Russellville AL for non-accredited schools. Also, for those states or local governments that require licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited as well.
Apprenticeship and Job Assistance Programs. A large number of welder certificate or degree programs are provided in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Other schools will assist in placing you in a job or an apprenticeship upon graduation. Ask if the schools you are considering assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. The schools must have relationships 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 rely upon for referrals. These programs can help students find employment and establish associations within the Russellville AL welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that enroll in an academic program and complete it. It's crucial that the welding school you pick has a high completion rate. A reduced rate may indicate that the students who joined the program were dissatisfied with the training, the teachers, or the facilities, and dropped out. The job placement rate is also an indication of the quality of training. A higher job placement rate will not only affirm that the school has a good reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of Russellville AL employer relationships to assist students secure employment or apprenticeships after graduation.
Up-to-date Equipment and Facilities. Once you have narrowed down your selection 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 facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are up-to-date. Specifically, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be using in the field. If you are not sure what to look for, and are already in an apprenticeship program, ask the master welder you are working under for guidance. Otherwise, ask a local Russellville AL welding professional if they can give you a few tips.
School Location. Even though we already briefly discussed the significance of location, there are a couple of additional issues that we need to deal with. You should bear in mind that unless you can relocate, the welder program you pick needs to be within commuting distance of your Russellville AL home. If you do choose to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to moving expenses there could be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially true for welder 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 local community. So the location of the school should be in a region or state where you ultimately will want to work.
Smaller Classes. One-on-one training is essential for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's possible to get overlooked in larger classes and not get much individualized training. Ask what the typical class size is for the welding programs you are considering. Inquire if you can attend some classes so that you can experience how much individual attention the students are getting. While there, speak with some of the students and get their opinions. Also, speak with a few of the trainers and find out what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they hold.
Convenient Class Schedules. Many people learn a new profession while still employed at their current job. Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are looking at are convenient enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Russellville AL, confirm that the schools you are assessing offer those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, confirm that the school you choose offers part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the protocol is to make up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family emergencies.
Find the Right Russellville Welding Course for Certification
Selecting the best welder training program will probably be the most important decision you will make to begin your new profession. As we have covered in this article, there are a number of things that you will need to examine and compare among the schools you are reviewing. It's a prerequisite that any welder training that you are considering includes a considerable amount of hands-on training. Classes should be small in size and each student must have their personal welding machine to train on. Classroom teaching should offer a real-world context, and the training program should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Courses 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 satisfy your needs. Each training program provides unique possibilities for certification also. Probably The ideal approach to research your short list of schools is to check out each campus and speak with the students and faculty. Invest some time to monitor a few classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the school you decide on is the ideal one for you. With the right training, effort and dedication, the end result will be a new trade as a professional welder in Russellville AL.