How to Pick the Best Welding Training Classes near Saraland Alabama
Selecting the right welding school near Saraland AL is an important first step to launching your new career as a professional welder. But since there are numerous schools to pick from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more importantly, once you have fine tuned your alternatives, how do you pick the best one? Many people start by reviewing the schools that are nearest to their residences. When they have located those that are within commuting distance, they gravitate toward the least costly one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are crucial concerns when reviewing welder trade schools, but they are not the only ones. Other considerations include such things as reputation, accreditation and job placement rates. So before starting your search for a trade school to become a welder, it's prudent to establish a list of qualifications that your selected school must have. But before we examine our due diligence checklist, let's cover 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 technical school. You can receive a diploma, a certificate or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are offered in Welding Engineering or Welding Technology, but are more advanced programs than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also offered combined with an apprenticeship program. Below are brief descriptions of the most typical welding programs available in the Saraland AL area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are usually offered by technical and trade schools and require about a year to finish. They are more hands-on training in scope, designed primarily to teach 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 two years to finish and are usually offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology furnishes a more extensive education than the certificate or diploma while still furnishing the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
A number of states and municipalities do have licensing prerequisites for welders, so don't forget to check for your location of potential employment. As required, the welder school you choose should prepare you for any licensing exams that you will have to take in addition to supplying the suitable training to become a professional welder.
Welding Certification Alternatives
There are several organizations that offer welding certifications, which assess the knowledge and skill level of those applying. Many Saraland AL employers not only require a degree or certificate from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a highly regarded organization such as the American Welding Society (AWS). Different certifications are available based upon the type of work that the welder performs. A few of the skills that certification can acknowledge are the welder's ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with certain metal thicknesses
- Work with certain kinds of welds
- Perform in compliance with contract specifications
As already mentioned, various cities, states or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those calling for licensing, many also require certification for different kinds of work. Certification is also a means to prove to employers that you are an extremely skilled and experienced welder. So similarly as with licensing, look into the requirements for your local area and verify that the welder vocational school you select readies you for certification if needed.
What to Ask Welder Vocational Programs
Once you have decided on the credential you would like to attain, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can begin to assess schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are a large number of welding vocational and trade schools in the Saraland AL area. That's why it's important to decide up front what qualifications your chosen school must have. We have already covered 2 significant ones that most people look at first, which are location and tuition cost. As stated, although they are very important qualifiers, they are not the only ones that need to be considered. After all, the school you choose is going to provide the instruction that will be the foundation of your new profession as a welder. So below are some additional factors you might want to evaluate before picking a welding tech 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 basic kinds of accreditation. The school may attain Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a single program the school offers, for instance Welding Technology. So make sure 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 organization, such as the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). In addition to helping ensure that you obtain an excellent education, the accreditation may also help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases not offered in Saraland AL for schools that are not accredited. Also, for those states or municipalities that mandate licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited as well.
Apprenticeship and Job Placement Programs. Numerous welder diploma or degree programs are provided in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Some 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. These schools must have relationships with local unions and various metal working businesses to which they can place their students. Older schools may have a larger network of graduates that they can rely upon for referrals. These programs can assist students in finding employment and establish relationships within the Saraland AL welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that enroll in an educational program and finish it. It's important that the welding program you pick has a higher completion rate. A lower rate might indicate that the students who joined the program were unhappy with the instruction, the teachers, or the facilities, and dropped out. The job placement rate is also a good indicator of the caliber of training. A high job placement rate will not only affirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of Saraland AL contacts to help students secure employment or apprenticeships after graduation.
Up-to-date Facilities and Equipment. Once you have limited your choice of welder schools to 2 or 3 possibilities, you should consider visiting the campuses to inspect their facilities. Make sure that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed 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 unsure what to look for, and are already in an apprenticeship program, ask the master welder you are working under for guidance. If not, ask a local Saraland AL welding contractor if they can give you some suggestions.
School Location. Although we already briefly talked about the importance of location, there are a couple of additional issues that we need to deal with. You should keep in mind that unless you are able to move, the welder program you pick must be within commuting distance of your Saraland AL home. If you do choose to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to moving expenses there may be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially the case for welding degree programs offered by community colleges. Additionally, if the school offers a job placement or apprenticeship program, most likely their placements are within the school's regional community. So the location of the school needs to be in a region or state where you subsequently will desire to work.
Small Classes. One-on-one training is essential for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's easy to get lost in larger classes and not obtain much personalized instruction. Find out what the typical class size is for the welder schools you are looking at. Inquire if you can attend a few classes so that you can experience just how much personal attention the students are receiving. While there, speak with a few of the students and get their feedback. Similarly, talk to some of the instructors and find out what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they hold.
Convenient Class Schedules. Some people learn a new profession while still employed at their present job. Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are looking at are convenient enough to meet your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Saraland AL, verify that the schools you are assessing provide those choices. If you can only enroll part-time, make sure that the school you choose offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the policy is to make up classes if you you miss any because of illness, work or family circumstances.
Choose the Right Saraland Welding Program for Certification
Selecting the best welding school will probably be the most critical decision you will make to begin your new profession. As we have discussed in this article, there are many things that you will need to evaluate and compare between the schools you are looking at. It's a necessity that any welder school that you are reviewing includes a good deal of hands-on instruction. Classes should be small in size and each student must have their own welding machine to train with. Classroom education should offer a real-world frame of reference, and the curriculum should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Programs differ in duration and the kind of credential provided, so you will need to ascertain what length of program and credential will best fulfill your needs. Every program provides unique possibilities for certification as well. Perhaps The ideal way to research your final list of schools is to check out each campus and speak with the faculty and students. Take the time to monitor some classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the training program you select is the best one for you. With the right training, hard work and dedication, the end result will be a new career as a professional welder in Saraland AL.