How to Select the Right Welding Training Program near Scottsboro Alabama
Selecting the right welder technical school near Scottsboro AL is an essential first step to starting your new career as a professional welder. But since there are so many schools to choose from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more importantly, once you have narrowed down your alternatives, how do you pick the right one? Many prospective students begin by reviewing the schools that are closest to their residences. Once they have identified those that are within driving distance, they gravitate toward the least costly one. Yes, location and tuition cost are important concerns when evaluating welding vocational schools, but they are not the only ones. Other considerations 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 examine our due diligence checklist, let's cover a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welder Degree and Certificate Programs
There are a number of alternatives available to receive training as a welder in a trade or technical school. You can obtain a diploma, a certificate or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are available in Welding Engineering or Welding Technology, but are more advanced degrees than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available along with an apprenticeship program. Below are short explanations of the most prevalent welding programs available in the Scottsboro AL area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are usually made available by trade and technical schools and take about 1 year to finish. They are more hands-on training in nature, created mainly to develop welding skills. They can provide a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or additional skills for working 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 diploma or certificate while still furnishing the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
Many states and municipalities do have licensing requirements for welders, so don't forget to check for your location of future employment. If required, the welding school you choose should ready you for any licensing exams that you will have to take in addition to providing the suitable training to become a qualified welder.
Welder Certification Options
There are multiple organizations that offer welder certifications, which assess the knowledge and skill level of those applying. Numerous Scottsboro AL employers not only expect a degree or certificate from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a renowned organization like the American Welding Society (AWS). Different certifications are offered based upon the kind of work that the welder does. A few of the things that certification can attest to are the welder's ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with certain metal thicknesses
- Work with certain types of welds
- Perform according to contract specifications
As previously mentioned, some cities, states or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those mandating licensing, a number also require certification for different types of work. Certification is also a means to demonstrate to employers that you are a highly skilled and knowledgeable welder. So just as with licensing, check the requirements for your location and confirm that the welder vocational school you decide on readies you for certification if needed.
Subjects to Ask Welder Technical Schools
When you have decided on the credential you want to attain, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can begin to evaluate schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are many welder trade and vocational schools in the Scottsboro AL area. That's why it's necessary to decide up front what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have already discussed two significant ones that most people consider first, which are location and tuition cost. As stated, although they are very important qualifications, they are not the only ones that must be considered. After all, the program you pick is going to provide the education that will be the foundation of your new vocation as a welder. So following are some additional factors you may need to consider before choosing a welding tech school.
Accreditation. It's essential that the welder technical school you pick is accredited by either a regional or a national organization. There are 2 basic types of accreditation. The school may receive 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 certain that the program you pick 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 a quality education, the accreditation may also assist in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently not available in Scottsboro AL for schools that are not accredited. Finally, for those states or municipalities that require licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited as well.
Apprenticeship and Job Assistance Programs. A large number of welding diploma or degree programs are provided in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Some other schools will assist in placing you in an apprenticeship or a job upon graduation. Find out if the schools you are looking at assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. These schools must have relationships with local unions and other metal working businesses to which they can place their students. More established 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 Scottsboro AL welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that start an instructional program and complete it. It's crucial that the welding program you pick has a higher completion rate. A reduced rate could signify that the students who joined the program were unhappy with the instruction, the instructors, or the facilities, and dropped out. The job placement rate is also an indication of the caliber of training. A high job placement rate will not only confirm that the program has a good reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of Scottsboro AL employer relationships to assist students obtain apprenticeships or employment after graduation.
Modern Facilities and Equipment. Once you have narrowed down your selection of welding programs to 2 or 3 possibilities, you should consider going to the campuses to look over their facilities. Verify that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be instructed on are up-to-date. In particular, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be working with in the field. If you are uncertain what to look for, and are already in an apprenticeship program, ask the master welder you are working under for guidance. Otherwise, ask a local Scottsboro AL welding professional if they can give you some pointers.
School Location. Although we already briefly discussed the relevance of location, there are a couple of additional points that we should deal with. You should bear in mind that unless you are able to relocate, the welding school you pick needs to be within commuting distance of your Scottsboro AL home. If you do opt to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation expenses there might be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially true for welding certificate 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 should be in an area or state where you ultimately will desire to work.
Smaller Classes. Personalized instruction is important for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's easy to be lost in larger classes and not get much one-on-one instruction. Ask what the typical class size is for the welder schools you are reviewing. Inquire if you can attend a couple of classes so that you can witness how much individual attention the students are getting. While there, talk with some of the students and get their opinions. Similarly, speak with a couple of the teachers and find out what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they have earned.
Flexible Class Schedules. Some people learn a new trade while still employed at their present job. Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are looking at are convenient enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Scottsboro AL, confirm that the schools you are reviewing offer those options. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you pick offers part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the policy is to make up classes should you miss any because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Find the Right Scottsboro Welding Program for Certification
Selecting the right welding training program 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 factors that you will need to assess and compare between the schools you are considering. It's a must that any welder training that you are reviewing 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 on. Classroom instruction needs to offer a real-world frame of reference, and the curriculum should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Courses vary in length and the type of credential provided, so you will have to determine what length of program and certificate or degree will best satisfy your needs. Every training program provides unique options for certification also. Probably the best approach to research your final list of schools is to check out each campus and talk with the teachers and students. Take the time to attend some classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the program you pick is the ideal one for you. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, the final result will be a new career as a professional welder in Scottsboro AL.