How to Find the Right Welder Certificate Program near Saraland Alabama
Finding the ideal welding trade school near Saraland AL is an essential first step to beginning your new career 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 importantly, once you have fine tuned your alternatives, how do you select the right one? Most people start by reviewing the schools that are closest to their homes. When they have found those that are within driving distance, they gravitate toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and tuition cost are necessary concerns when reviewing welding vocational 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 trade school to become a welder, it's wise to create a list of qualifications that your chosen 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 Certificate and Degree Training Courses
There are several options available to obtain training as a welder in a trade or vocational 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 in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Following are short summaries of the most common welding programs offered in the Saraland AL area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are normally made available by technical and trade schools and require about one year to finish. They are more hands-on training in nature, designed mainly to teach welding skills. They can provide a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or specialized skills for working welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take two years to finish and are most often 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 prepares students to enter the workforce.
A number of municipalities and states do have licensing prerequisites for welders, so don't forget to find out for your location of potential employment. As needed, the welding school you choose should ready you for any licensing exams that you will have to pass in addition to providing the appropriate training to become a professional welder.
Welder Certification Options
There are several institutions that offer welder certifications, which assess the knowledge and skill level of those applying. A large number of Saraland AL employers not only expect a certificate or degree from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a respected organization such as the American Welding Society (AWS). A wide range of certifications are offered based upon the kind of work that the welder does. Just some of the skills that certification can attest to are the welder's ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with certain metal thicknesses
- Work with specific types of welds
- Operate in compliance with contract specifications
As earlier mentioned, many 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 demonstrate to employers that you are an extremely skilled and qualified welder. So just as with licensing, check the requirements for your location and make certain that the welder trade school you select prepares you for certification if needed.
Points to Ask Welder Trade Schools
When you have chosen the credential you would like to attain, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can begin to assess schools. As you can imagine, there are numerous welding trade and technical schools in the Saraland AL area. That's why it's important to determine in advance what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have previously covered 2 significant ones that most people look at first, which are location and tuition cost. As mentioned, although they are essential qualifications, they are not the only ones that must be considered. After all, the program you decide on 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 need to evaluate before selecting a welder technical school.
Accreditation. It's essential that the welder trade school you pick is accredited by either a regional or a national agency. There are 2 standard types of accreditation. The school may receive Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on an individual program the school has, for instance Welding Technology. So verify that the program you choose 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). In addition to helping ensure that you get an excellent education, the accreditation can also help in securing financial aid or student loans, which are often unavailable in Saraland 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 as well.
Apprenticeship and Job Assistance Programs. A large number of welding degree or certificate programs are offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Various other schools will assist in placing you in an apprenticeship or a job upon graduation. Ask if the schools you are considering help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. These schools should have partnerships 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 utilize for referrals. These programs can assist students in finding employment and develop associations within the Saraland AL welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that start an instructional program and finish it. It's crucial that the welder school you select has a high completion rate. A low rate might mean that the students who were in 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 high job placement rate will not only verify that the school has a good reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of Saraland AL employer relationships to assist students obtain employment or apprenticeships after graduation.
Up-to-date Facilities and Equipment. After you have narrowed down your selection of welder schools to 2 or 3 options, you should think out going to the campuses to look over their facilities. Make sure that both the equipment and the facilities 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 unsure what to look for, and are already in an apprenticeship program, consult with the master welder you are working under for guidance. If not, ask a local Saraland AL welding professional if they can give you a few suggestions.
School Location. Even though we already briefly discussed the significance of location, there are a couple of additional points that we need to address. You should remember that unless you are able to relocate, the welding school you choose needs to be within commuting distance of your Saraland AL home. If you do choose to enroll in an out-of-state school, apart from moving costs there might be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly the case for welder degree programs offered by community colleges. Furthermore, if the school offers a job placement or apprenticeship 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 wish to work.
Small Classes. Personalized instruction is essential for a manual trade such as welding. It's possible to be overlooked in larger classes and not receive much individualized training. Find out what the usual class size is for the welding programs you are looking at. Ask if you can attend a couple of classes so that you can experience just how much personal attention the students are receiving. While there, talk with several of the students and get their evaluations. Similarly, talk with a couple of the teachers and ask what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they have earned.
Convenient Class Schedules. Many people learn a new profession while still working at their current job. Verify 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 Saraland AL, confirm that the schools you are assessing provide those choices. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, verify that the school you decide on offers part-time enrollment. Also, check to see what the protocol is to make up classes should you miss any because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Find the Best Saraland Welding Program for Certification
Choosing the best welding training program will undoubtedly be the most important decision you will make to start your new profession. As we have covered in this article, there are several factors that you will need to evaluate and compare among the programs you are reviewing. It's a necessity that any welder school that you are evaluating includes a considerable amount of hands-on training. Classes need to be smaller in size and every student should have their own welding machine to train with. Classroom teaching should provide a real-world context, and the curriculum should be current and conform with industry standards. Training programs vary in duration and the type of credential provided, so you will have to decide what length of program and credential will best serve your needs. Every training program offers unique options for certification as well. Probably The ideal way to research your final list of schools is to visit each campus and speak with the teachers and students. Invest some time to sit in on some classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the training program you decide on is the best one for you. With the proper training, hard work and dedication, the final result will be a new trade as a professional welder in Saraland AL.