How to Pick the Best Welding Trade School near Saraland Alabama
Enrolling in the right welder vocational school near Saraland AL is an essential first step to starting your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are so many schools to pick from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more notably, once you have fine tuned your alternatives, how do you select the right one? Most people begin by looking at the schools that are nearest to their residences. When they have found those that are within commuting distance, they are drawn toward the least costly one. Yes, location and tuition cost are important issues when examining welder vocational schools, but they are not the only ones. Other concerns 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 prudent to develop 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 alternatives available to obtain training as a welder in a technical or trade school. You can receive 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 combined with an apprenticeship program. Below are brief explanations of the most common welding programs available in the Saraland AL area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are generally made available by trade and technical schools and require about one year to complete. They are more hands-on training in nature, created mainly to develop welding skills. They can furnish a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or specialized skills for working welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take 2 years to complete and are most often offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology furnishes a more extensive education than the diploma or certificate while still furnishing the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
Some municipalities and states do have licensing prerequisites for welders, therefore don't forget to find out for your location of potential employment. As required, the welding school you pick should prep you for any licensing examinations that you will have to take in addition to supplying the appropriate training to become a qualified welder.
Welder Certification Alternatives
There are multiple institutions that offer welding certifications, which assess the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Numerous Saraland AL employers not only require a certificate or degree from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a renowned organization such as the American Welding Society (AWS). Different certifications are offered based on the kind of work that the welder does. 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 kinds of welds
- Work according to contract specifications
As earlier mentioned, some states, cities or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those requiring licensing, many additionally require certification for various types of work. Certification is also a means to demonstrate to employers that you are a highly skilled and experienced welder. So just as with licensing, check the requirements for your local area and verify that the welding vocational school you choose prepares you for certification as needed.
Points to Ask Welding Technical Schools
After you have decided on the credential you want to obtain, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can begin to evaluate schools. As you can imagine, there are numerous welding vocational and trade schools in the Saraland AL area. That's why it's important to determine up front 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 the cost of tuition. As mentioned, although they are very important qualifiers, they are not the only ones that should be considered. After all, the program you select is going to furnish the education that will be the foundation of your new career as a welder. So below are more factors you might want to evaluate before picking a welder tech school.
Accreditation. It's very important that the welding trade school you pick is accredited by either a regional or a national agency. There are two basic types of accreditation. The school may receive 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 recognized accrediting organization, like the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping make sure that you get a quality education, the accreditation might also assist in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases not offered in Saraland 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.
Job Assistance and Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of welder diploma or degree programs are offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Various other schools will help place you in a job or an apprenticeship after graduation. Ask if the schools you are considering assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. These schools must have associations with local unions and other metal working businesses to which they can place their students. Older schools may have a more substantial network of graduates that they can utilize for referrals. These programs can help students find employment and establish relationships within the Saraland AL welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that begin an instructional program and complete it. It's crucial that the welder school you select has a high completion rate. A low rate might mean that the students who enrolled in the program were unhappy with the instruction, the instructors, or the facilities, and quit. The job placement rate is also a good indicator of the quality of training. A higher 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 Equipment and Facilities. After you have limited your selection of welder programs to two or three possibilities, you should consider going to the campuses to evaluate their facilities. Verify 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 currently in an apprenticeship program, consult with the master welder you are working under for guidance. If not, ask a local Saraland AL welding contractor if they can give you some tips.
School Location. Although we already briefly talked about the importance of location, there are a few additional issues that we need to deal with. You should bear in mind that unless you are able to move, the welder program you select must be within commuting distance of your Saraland AL home. If you do opt to attend an out-of-state school, besides moving costs there may be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially true for welder degree programs offered by community colleges. Furthermore, if the school offers an apprenticeship or job placement program, more than likely 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 want to work.
Small Classes. One-on-one training is essential for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's possible to get overlooked in bigger classes and not obtain much personalized training. Ask what the average class size is for the welder schools you are reviewing. Inquire if you can sit in on a couple of classes so that you can experience just how much individual attention the students are getting. While there, talk with some of the students and get their opinions. Similarly, speak with some of the instructors and ask what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they have earned.
Convenient Class Schedules. Lots of folks learn a new trade while still employed at their current job. Check to see that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are convenient enough to meet your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Saraland AL, confirm that the schools you are assessing provide those options. If you can only attend part-time, verify that the school you pick offers part-time enrollment. Also, check to see what the protocol is to make up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family circumstances.
Find the Best Saraland Welding Program for Certification
Choosing the best welding school will undoubtedly be the most important decision you will make to begin your new profession. As we have covered in this article, there are several things that you will need to assess and compare among the programs you are reviewing. It's a necessity that any welder training program that you are assessing includes a considerable amount of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be small in size and every student should have their own welding machine to train with. Classroom teaching needs to offer a real-world perspective, and the curriculum should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Training programs vary in length and the kind of credential provided, so you will need to determine what length of program and degree or certificate will best satisfy your needs. Every training program provides different options for certification as well. Perhaps the best means to research your final list of schools is to check out each campus and talk with the faculty and students. Invest some time to attend some classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the program you choose is the right one for you. With the right training, effort and commitment, the end outcome will be a new career as a professional welder in Saraland AL.