How to Select the Best Welding Vocational School near Scottsboro Alabama
Finding the ideal welder technical school near Scottsboro 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 determine which ones to consider? And more importantly, once you have narrowed down your options, how do you select the best 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 least expensive one. Yes, location and tuition cost are necessary issues when examining welding trade 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 trade school to become a welder, it's wise to establish a list of qualifications that your chosen school must have. But before we explore our due diligence checklist, let's talk a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welding Degree and Certificate Training
There are several alternatives available to get training as a welder in a technical or trade school. You can receive a diploma, a certificate or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are offered in Welding Technology or Welding Engineering, but are more advanced programs than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also offered along with an apprenticeship program. Below are brief explanations of the most typical welding programs available in the Scottsboro AL area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are generally made available by trade and technical schools and take about one year to finish. They are more hands-on training in nature, designed largely 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 2 years to complete and are usually offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology offers 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 requirements for welders, so make sure to check for your location of future employment. If required, the welder school you pick should ready you for any licensing exams that you will have to pass in addition to providing the proper training to become a qualified welder.
Welder Certification Alternatives
There are various organizations that provide welding certifications, which evaluate the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Many Scottsboro AL employers not only expect a certificate or degree from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a renowned organization like the American Welding Society (AWS). Different certifications are offered based on the kind of work that the welder performs. Some of the skills that certification can attest to are the welder's ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with certain metal thicknesses
- Work with specific types of welds
- Operate based on contract specifications
As earlier stated, some states, cities or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those calling for licensing, a number also require certification for various types of work. Certification is also a way to demonstrate to employers that you are an extremely skilled and experienced welder. So similarly as with licensing, check the requirements for your location and verify that the welding vocational school you select readies you for certification if needed.
Topics to Ask Welder Tech Programs
When you have decided on the credential you want to earn, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can begin to compare schools. As you can imagine, there are many welding vocational and trade schools in the Scottsboro AL area. That's why it's important to establish in advance what qualifications your chosen school must have. We have already discussed 2 important ones that most people consider first, which are location and tuition cost. As mentioned, although they are essential qualifiers, they are not the only ones that must be considered. After all, the school you decide on is going to furnish the training that will be the foundation of your new vocation as a welder. So following are some additional factors you may want to evaluate before choosing a welding trade school.
Accreditation. It's extremely important that the welder vocational school you choose is accredited by either a regional or a national agency. There are two basic kinds of accreditation. The school may receive Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a single program the school has, such as Welding Technology. So make sure that the program you select is accredited, not just the school itself. Also, 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 make sure that you obtain a quality education, the accreditation can also help in getting financial aid or student loans, which are often unavailable in Scottsboro AL for non-accredited schools. Also, for those states or local governments that require licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited also.
Apprenticeship and Job Assistance Programs. A large number of welder certificate or degree programs are provided in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Some other schools will help place you in an apprenticeship or a job after graduation. Find out if the schools you are looking at help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. The schools should have relationships with local unions and various metal working businesses to which they can refer their students. Older schools may have a larger network of graduates that they can utilize for placements. These programs can assist students in finding employment and develop relationships within the Scottsboro AL welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that start an instructional program and complete it. It's crucial that the welder school you choose has a high completion rate. A reduced rate might indicate that the students who were in the program were dissatisfied with the instruction, 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 verify that the program has a good reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of Scottsboro AL contacts to assist students obtain employment or apprenticeships upon graduation.
Up-to-date Facilities and Equipment. After you have limited your selection of welder programs to 2 or 3 possibilities, you should consider visiting the campuses to inspect their facilities. Confirm that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are up-to-date. Specifically, the training equipment should be comparable to what you will be using in the field. If you are unsure 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 a few pointers.
School Location. Although we previously briefly talked about the relevance of location, there are a few additional points that we need to deal with. You should bear in mind that unless you are able to relocate, the welding program you select must be within driving distance of your Scottsboro AL home. If you do opt to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides moving costs there might be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly true for welder diploma programs offered by community colleges. Also, 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 an area or state where you ultimately will want to work.
Small Classes. One-on-one training is essential for a manual trade such as welding. It's easy to get overlooked in bigger classes and not get much personalized instruction. Ask what the average class size is for the welding schools you are considering. Ask if you can sit in on some classes so that you can observe just how much individual attention the students are receiving. While there, talk with some of the students and get their evaluations. Similarly, talk with some of the instructors and ask what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they have earned.
Convenient Class Scheduling. Some people learn a new profession while still employed at their current job. Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are considering are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Scottsboro AL, confirm that the schools you are assessing 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, illness or family responsibilities.
Choose the Best Scottsboro Welding School for Certification
Selecting the ideal welder school will probably be the most critical decision you will make to begin your new career. As we have discussed in this article, there are many factors that you will need to assess and compare between the schools you are reviewing. It's a necessity that any welding training that you are reviewing includes a lot of hands-on training. Classes need to be small in size and every student must have their personal welding machine to train with. Classroom teaching needs to provide a real-world context, and the course of study should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Courses vary in length and the type of credential provided, so you will need to determine what length of program and credential will best serve your needs. Every program offers unique options for certification also. Probably The ideal way to research your final list of schools is to visit each campus and talk with the faculty and students. Invest some time to attend some classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the school you select is the right one for you. With the right training, effort and dedication, the end outcome will be a new trade as a professional welder in Scottsboro AL.