How to Select the Right Welding Training Program near Saraland Alabama
Choosing the ideal welding school near Saraland AL is an important first step to starting 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 notably, once you have narrowed down your alternatives, how do you pick the right one? Many prospective students begin by looking at the schools that are closest to their residences. When they have identified those that are within driving distance, they gravitate toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are crucial issues when examining welder trade 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 vocational school to become a welder, it's prudent to establish 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 Degree and Certificate Training Classes
There are several 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 available 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 explanations of the most typical welding programs offered in the Saraland AL area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are normally offered by technical and trade schools and take about 1 year to complete. They are more hands-on training in nature, fashioned primarily to teach welding skills. They can provide a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or specialized skills for experienced welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take 2 years to complete and are most often offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology provides a more extensive education than the diploma or certificate while still furnishing the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
Many states and municipalities do have licensing prerequisites for welders, so be sure to find out for your location of potential employment. As required, the welding school you choose should ready you for any licensing examinations that you will have to pass in addition to furnishing the appropriate training to become a qualified welder.
Welding Certification Alternatives
There are various institutions that provide welding certifications, which assess the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Numerous Saraland AL employers not only require a degree or certificate from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a highly regarded organization like the American Welding Society (AWS). A variety of certifications are available based on the type of work that the welder does. A few 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 certain kinds of welds
- Perform in compliance with contract specifications
As earlier mentioned, many states, cities or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those requiring licensing, a number also require certification for various kinds of work. Certification is also a way to demonstrate to employers that you are a highly skilled and qualified welder. So similarly as with licensing, check the requirements for your location and verify that the welding trade school you choose readies you for certification if needed.
Topics to Ask Welding Vocational Programs
After you have chosen the credential you would like to earn, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can begin to compare schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are numerous welder vocational and trade schools in the Saraland AL area. That's why it's essential to determine in advance what qualifications your selected school must have. We have already discussed 2 important ones that many people look at first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As mentioned, although they are essential qualifiers, they are not the only ones that must be considered. After all, the program you decide on is going to provide the education that will be the foundation of your new profession as a welder. So below are some additional factors you might want to evaluate before selecting a welder vocational school.
Accreditation. It's essential that the welder vocational school you choose is accredited by either a national or a regional agency. There are 2 standard kinds of accreditation. The school may earn Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a single program the school offers, such as Welding Technology. So make certain that the program you choose is accredited, not just the school alone. Additionally, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, such as the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping ensure that you receive an excellent education, the accreditation can also assist in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases not available 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 Placement Programs. A large number of welding diploma or degree programs are provided combined with an apprenticeship program. Other schools will help place you in an apprenticeship or a job after graduation. Ask if the schools you are looking at help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. These 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 help students find employment and develop associations within the Saraland AL welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that enroll in an academic program and finish it. It's essential that the welder program you pick has a higher completion rate. A lower rate might signify that the students who joined 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 trade, but also that it has the network of Saraland AL contacts to help students obtain employment or apprenticeships after graduation.
Modern Facilities and Equipment. After you have decreased your choice of welding programs to 2 or 3 options, you should consider visiting the campuses to look over their facilities. Make sure that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be taught on are modern. Specifically, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be working with in the field. 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. If not, ask a local Saraland AL welding contractor if they can give you a few suggestions.
School Location. Although we previously briefly talked about the significance of location, there are a few additional issues that we need to address. You should remember that unless you have the ability to move, the welding school you pick needs to be within commuting distance of your Saraland AL home. If you do opt to attend an out-of-state school, apart from relocation 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. Also, if the school provides an apprenticeship or job placement program, often their placements are within the school's local community. So the location of the school needs to be in a region 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 get overlooked in bigger classes and not get much personalized training. Ask what the usual class size is for the welding programs you are reviewing. Ask if you can attend a couple of classes so that you can experience just how much personal attention the students are getting. While there, speak with several of the students and get their opinions. Also, talk to a couple of the teachers and ask what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they hold.
Convenient Class Schedules. Many people learn a new profession while still working at their current job. Make sure that the class schedules for the schools you are reviewing are convenient enough to meet your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Saraland AL, make sure that the schools you are looking at provide those alternatives. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the policy is to make up classes if you you miss any due to work, sickness or family circumstances.
Choose the Best Saraland Welding School for Certification
Choosing the right welding school will undoubtedly be the most critical decision you will make to start your new career. As we have covered in this article, there are a number of factors that you will need to assess and compare among the schools you are considering. It's a must that any welding training that you are considering includes a lot of hands-on training. Classes need to be smaller in size and every 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. Courses differ in duration 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. Each program offers different possibilities for certification as well. Perhaps the best way to research your short list of schools is to visit each campus and speak with the teachers and students. Take the time to attend a few classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the training program you choose is the right one for you. With the proper training, effort and dedication, the end outcome will be a new occupation as a professional welder in Saraland AL.