How to Choose the Best Welding Degree Program near Scottsboro Alabama
Finding the right welding trade school near Scottsboro AL is an essential first step to beginning your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are a lot of schools to pick from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more notably, once you have fine tuned your options, how do you select the right one? Many people start by looking at the schools that are closest to their residences. When they have found those that are within commuting distance, they gravitate toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and tuition cost are necessary concerns 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 starting your search for a trade school to become a welder, it's prudent 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 Degree and Certificate Training Courses
There are a number of options to get training as a welder in a trade or vocational 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 courses than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Following are brief descriptions of the most typical welding programs available in the Scottsboro AL area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are normally offered by trade and technical schools and take about 1 year to finish. They are more hands-on training in scope, created primarily to teach welding skills. They can provide a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or additional skills for experienced welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take 2 years to finish and are usually offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology provides a more extensive education than the diploma or certificate while still providing the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
A number of states and municipalities do have licensing prerequisites for welders, so make sure to find out for your location of potential employment. As required, the welder school you select should prep you for any licensing exams that you will have to pass in addition to providing the suitable training to become a professional welder.
Welding Certification Alternatives
There are various institutions that offer welder certifications, which evaluate the knowledge and skill level of those applying. A large number of Scottsboro AL employers not only demand a certificate or degree from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a renowned agency like the American Welding Society (AWS). A wide range of certifications are offered based on the type of work that the welder does. Some of the skills that certification can attest to are the welder's ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specified metal thicknesses
- Work with specific kinds of welds
- Operate in compliance with contract specifications
As previously stated, many states, cities or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those mandating licensing, some additionally require certification for different kinds of work. Certification is also a means to prove to employers that you are a highly skilled and experienced welder. So similarly as with licensing, look into the requirements for your local area and make sure that the welder technical school you decide on readies you for certification if needed.
Subjects to Ask Welder Technical Schools
When you have decided on the credential you would like to attain, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can begin to evaluate schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are numerous welding vocational and trade schools in the Scottsboro AL area. That's why it's essential to determine in advance what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have already discussed a couple of significant ones that most people consider first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As stated, although they are essential qualifiers, they are not the only ones that must be considered. After all, the program you choose is going to furnish the training that will be the foundation of your new vocation as a welder. So below are some additional factors you might need to evaluate before choosing a welder tech school.
Accreditation. It's very important that the welding tech school you choose is accredited by either a national or a regional agency. There are 2 basic types of accreditation. The school may earn Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on an individual program the school has, for example 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 recognized accrediting organization, like the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). In addition to helping ensure that you receive a quality education, the accreditation might also help in getting financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases not offered in Scottsboro AL for non-accredited schools. Also, for those states or municipalities that mandate licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited as well.
Apprenticeship and Job Assistance Programs. Numerous welding degree or diploma programs are offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Other schools will help place you in an apprenticeship or a job upon graduation. Find out if the schools you are reviewing assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. The schools should have associations with local unions and various metal working businesses to which they can refer their students. More established schools may have a more substantial network of graduates that they can utilize for referrals. These programs can assist students in finding employment and establish relationships within the Scottsboro AL welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that begin an academic program and finish it. It's crucial that the welding program you select has a high completion rate. A low rate might signify that the students who were in the program were dissatisfied 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 high job placement rate will not only affirm that the program has an excellent reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of Scottsboro AL contacts to assist students secure apprenticeships or employment after graduation.
Modern Equipment and Facilities. After you have narrowed down your selection of welding programs to two or three options, you should think out visiting the campuses to inspect their facilities. Verify that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are up-to-date. Specifically, the training equipment should be comparable to what you will be using in the field. If you are not sure what to look for, and are currently in an apprenticeship program, ask the master welder you are working under for guidance. Otherwise, ask a local Scottsboro AL welding contractor if they can give you some suggestions.
School Location. Even though we already briefly covered the relevance of location, there are a few additional issues that we need to deal with. You should remember that unless you can relocate, the welder school you choose must be within commuting distance of your Scottsboro AL home. If you do opt to attend an out-of-state school, besides relocation expenses there could be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially the case for welder diploma programs offered by community colleges. Also, 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 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 easy to get lost in bigger classes and not obtain much one-on-one training. Find out what the usual class size is for the welding schools you are considering. Ask if you can attend some classes so that you can experience how much personal attention the students are getting. While there, talk with a few of the students and get their opinions. Similarly, chat with a few of the instructors and ask what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they hold.
Convenient Class Scheduling. Lots of folks learn a new profession while still working at their current job. Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are looking at are flexible enough to satisfy your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Scottsboro AL, make certain that the schools you are reviewing offer those options. If you can only enroll part-time, make certain that the school you choose offers part-time enrollment. Also, check to see what the protocol is to make up classes if you you miss any due to work, sickness or family responsibilities.
Choose the Best Scottsboro Welding Program for Certification
Picking the ideal welding training program will probably be the most critical decision you will make to start your new trade. As we have addressed in this article, there are many factors that you will need to assess and compare between the programs you are looking at. It's a prerequisite that any welder training program that you are considering includes a good deal of hands-on training. Classes need to be smaller in size and every student should have their personal welding machine to train with. Classroom instruction needs to provide a real-world frame of reference, and the training program should be current and conform with industry standards. Courses vary in length and the kind of credential provided, so you will need to decide 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 means to research your final list of schools is to visit each campus and speak with the students and instructors. Invest some time to attend some classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the school you decide on is the best one for you. With the proper training, effort and commitment, the end outcome will be a new trade as a professional welder in Scottsboro AL.