How to Find the Best Welding Certification Classes near Russellville Alabama
Finding the right welding vocational school near Russellville AL is an important first step to starting your new career as a professional welder. But since there are a lot of schools to select from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more significantly, once you have fine tuned your choices, how do you select the best one? Most people start by reviewing the schools that are closest to their homes. When they have located those that are within driving distance, they gravitate toward the least expensive one. Yes, location and tuition cost are important considerations when examining welding technical schools, but they are not the only ones. Other considerations include such things as accreditation, reputation and job placement rates. So before starting your search for a trade school to become a welder, it's sensible to develop a list of qualifications that your chosen school must have. But before we examine our due diligence checklist, let's talk a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welding Certificate and Degree Training Courses
There are a number of options available to get training as a welder in a trade or vocational school. You can receive a a certificate, a diploma or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are offered in Welding Technology or Welding Engineering, but are more advanced courses than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Following are brief descriptions of the most prevalent welding programs available in the Russellville AL area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are usually offered by trade and technical schools and take about 1 year to finish. They are more hands-on training in nature, fashioned largely to develop welding skills. They can furnish a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or supplemental 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 provides a more well-rounded education than the certificate or diploma while still furnishing the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
Some states and municipalities do have licensing requirements for welders, therefore don't forget to check for your location of potential employment. As needed, the welder school you select should prep you for any licensing examinations that you will need to pass in addition to furnishing the suitable training to become a professional welder.
Welder Certification Options
There are several institutions that provide welding certifications, which test the skill level and knowledge of those applying. A large number of Russellville AL employers not only require a degree or certificate from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a respected agency such as the American Welding Society (AWS). Different certifications are offered based on the kind of work that the welder performs. Just some of the things that certification can acknowledge are the welder's ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specific metal thicknesses
- Work with various types of welds
- Work in compliance with contract specifications
As formerly mentioned, various states, cities or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those mandating licensing, some also require certification for various types of work. Certification is also a way to demonstrate to employers that you are an exceptionally skilled and qualified welder. So similarly as with licensing, check the requirements for your local area and confirm that the welder tech school you decide on preps you for certification as needed.
Points to Ask Welding Vocational Programs
As soon as you have decided on the credential you would like to earn, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can start to assess schools. As you can imagine, there are numerous welder vocational and trade schools in the Russellville AL area. That's why it's important to establish in advance what qualifications your chosen school must have. We have already discussed two important ones that most people look at first, which are location and tuition cost. As mentioned, although they are very important qualifications, they are not the only ones that must be considered. After all, the school you pick is going to provide the education that will be the foundation of your new career as a welder. So following are some additional factors you may need to consider before picking a welding vocational school.
Accreditation. It's essential that the welding trade school you choose is accredited by either a national or a regional agency. There are 2 standard 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 offers, for instance Welding Technology. So confirm that the program you choose is accredited, not just the school itself. Also, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, such as the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping make sure that you get a superior education, the accreditation might also help in getting financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases not offered in Russellville AL for non-accredited schools. Finally, for those states or local governments that mandate licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited also.
Job Assistance and Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous welder degree or certificate programs are offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Some other schools will help place you in a job or an apprenticeship after graduation. Find out if the schools you are reviewing help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. These schools must have relationships with local unions and various metal working businesses to which they can place 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 develop associations within the Russellville AL welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that start an instructional program and complete it. It's essential that the welder program you pick has a higher completion rate. A lower rate could mean that the students who were in the program were dissatisfied with the training, the instructors, or the facilities, and dropped out. The job placement rate is also an indication of the quality of training. A high job placement rate will not only affirm 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 after graduation.
Up-to-date Facilities and Equipment. After you have limited your selection of welding schools to two or three possibilities, you should think out going to the campuses to evaluate their facilities. Make sure that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are up-to-date. In particular, the training equipment should be comparable to what you will be using on the job. If you are not sure what to look for, and are already 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 some suggestions.
School Location. Although we previously briefly discussed the relevance of location, there are a couple of additional issues that we should address. You should keep in mind that unless you have the ability to move, the welder school you choose must be within commuting distance of your Russellville AL home. If you do decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, apart from relocation expenses there might be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially true for welding degree programs offered by community colleges. Additionally, if the school provides an apprenticeship or job placement program, often their placements are within the school's regional community. So the location of the school should be in a region or state where you subsequently will wish 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 receive much individualized training. Ask what the average class size is for the welder programs you are reviewing. Inquire if you can attend a few classes so that you can witness just how much personal attention the students are receiving. While there, speak with a few of the students and get their feedback. Also, chat with a couple of the instructors and find out what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they have earned.
Flexible Class Schedules. Some people learn a new profession while still working at their current job. Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are looking at are convenient enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Russellville AL, make sure that the schools you are assessing offer those alternatives. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you decide on offers part-time enrollment. Also, check to see what the protocol is to make up classes if you you miss any due to work, illness or family circumstances.
Choose the Right Russellville Welding Training for Certification
Picking the right welding school will probably be the most important decision you will make to start your new trade. As we have addressed in this article, there are a number of factors that you will need to assess and compare among the programs you are reviewing. It's a prerequisite that any welding school that you are examining includes a lot of hands-on training. Classes need to be small in size and each student must have their personal welding machine to train on. Classroom instruction needs to provide a real-world perspective, and the course of study should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Programs differ in length and the kind of credential offered, so you will have to determine what length of program and degree or certificate will best serve your needs. Every training program offers different options for certification as well. Probably The ideal approach to research your short list of schools is to check out each campus and talk with the teachers and students. Invest some time to attend some classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the program you decide on is the right one for you. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, the end result will be a new career as a professional welder in Russellville AL.