How to Enroll In the Best Welding Technical School near Russellville Alabama
Selecting the right welder school near Russellville AL is an important first step to beginning your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are a lot of schools to choose from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more significantly, once you have narrowed down your choices, how do you pick the best one? A number of prospective students begin by looking at the schools that are closest to their homes. When they have identified those that are within driving distance, they are drawn toward the least expensive one. Yes, location and tuition cost are crucial issues when examining welding vocational schools, but they are not the only ones. Other factors 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 create 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 Degree and Certificate Training
There are several options available to get training as a welder in a trade or vocational school. You can obtain a a certificate, a diploma or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are offered in Welding Technology or Welding Engineering, but are more advanced degrees than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available combined with an apprenticeship program. Following are brief explanations of the most typical welding programs available in the Russellville AL area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are usually made available by trade and technical schools and require about one year to finish. They are more hands-on training in nature, designed mainly to teach welding skills. They can furnish 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 offers a more well-rounded education than the diploma or certificate while still furnishing the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
Many municipalities and states do have licensing requirements for welders, so don't forget to find out for your location of potential employment. As required, the welding school you choose should prep you for any licensing examinations that you will need to pass in addition to supplying the suitable training to become a professional welder.
Welder Certification Choices
There are several organizations that offer welding certifications, which assess the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Many Russellville AL employers not only demand a degree or certificate from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a renowned agency like the American Welding Society (AWS). A variety of certifications are available based upon the kind of work that the welder performs. Just some of the things 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
- Perform according to contract specifications
As already mentioned, some cities, states or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those requiring licensing, some additionally require certification for various types of work. Certification is also a way to prove to employers that you are a highly skilled and experienced welder. So similarly as with licensing, check the requirements for your location and verify that the welding vocational school you choose preps you for certification as needed.
Questions to Ask Welder Trade Programs
After you have decided on the credential you would like to earn, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can start to assess schools. As you can imagine, there are a large number of welder trade and vocational schools in the Russellville AL area. That's why it's important to decide up front what qualifications your selected school must have. We have already discussed 2 significant ones that many people consider first, which are location and tuition cost. As stated, although they are essential qualifiers, they are not the only ones that should be looked at. After all, the program you choose is going to provide the instruction that will be the foundation of your new profession as a welder. So following are some additional factors you might need to consider before selecting a welding vocational school.
Accreditation. It's very important that the welder tech school you decide on 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 specific program the school has, for example Welding Technology. So confirm that the program you select is accredited, not just the school alone. Also, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, for example the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping ensure that you get a quality education, the accreditation can also assist in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are often unavailable in Russellville AL for non-accredited schools. Also, for those states or municipalities that require licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited as well.
Job Assistance and Apprenticeship Programs. Many welding diploma or degree programs are offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Various other schools will help place you in an apprenticeship or a job upon graduation. Find out if the schools you are reviewing assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. The schools must have partnerships with local unions and other metal working businesses to which they can refer their students. Older schools may have a more substantial network of graduates that they can rely upon for placements. These programs can assist students in finding employment and develop relationships within the Russellville AL welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that enroll in an educational program and complete it. It's important that the welder program you pick has a high completion rate. A low rate may signify that the students who enrolled in the program were unhappy with the training, the instructors, or the facilities, and quit. The job placement rate is also an indication of the quality of training. A higher job placement rate will not only affirm that the program has a good reputation within the trade, but additionally that it has the network of Russellville AL contacts to help students secure employment or apprenticeships upon graduation.
Up-to-date Facilities and Equipment. After you have narrowed down your choice of welder programs to 2 or 3 possibilities, you should think out going to the campuses to look over their facilities. Confirm that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be trained on are up-to-date. Specifically, 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 currently in an apprenticeship program, consult with the master welder you are working under for guidance. Otherwise, ask a local Russellville AL welding professional if they can give you a few suggestions.
School Location. Although we already briefly talked about the relevance of location, there are a few additional points that we need to address. You should keep in mind that unless you can move, the welding program you pick needs to be within commuting distance of your Russellville AL home. If you do opt to attend an out-of-state school, besides relocation expenses there could 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 local community. So the location of the school needs to be in an area or state where you ultimately will want to work.
Smaller Classes. Personalized training is essential for a manual trade such as welding. It's possible to be lost in larger classes and not obtain much one-on-one training. Find out what the average class size is for the welder programs you are looking at. Inquire if you can attend a few classes so that you can witness how much individual attention the students are getting. While there, speak with some of the students and get their evaluations. Also, talk with a couple of the teachers and find out what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they hold.
Convenient Class Scheduling. Some people learn a new profession while still employed at their present job. Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are convenient enough to meet your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Russellville AL, make sure that the schools you are considering provide those alternatives. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you choose offers part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the protocol is to make up classes if you you miss any due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Right Russellville Welding Training for Certification
Selecting the right welding training program will undoubtedly be the most important decision you will make to start your new trade. As we have discussed in this article, there are many things that you will need to evaluate and compare between the schools you are considering. It's a must that any welding school that you are considering includes a good deal of hands-on training. Classes need to be smaller in size and every student must have their personal welding machine to train with. Classroom teaching needs to provide a real-world context, and the training program should be current and conform with industry standards. Courses differ in duration and the kind of credential provided, so you will have to ascertain what length of program and certificate or degree will best satisfy your needs. Every training program offers different possibilities for certification also. Probably The ideal approach to research your short list of schools is to check out each campus and talk with the faculty and students. Invest some time to attend some classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the program you choose is the best one for you. With the right training, effort and commitment, the final result will be a new trade as a professional welder in Russellville AL.