How to Choose the Best Welding Training Program near Selma Alabama
Enrolling in the right welding vocational school near Selma AL is an important first step to launching your new career as a professional welder. But since there are so many schools to pick from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more significantly, once you have fine tuned your alternatives, how do you pick the right one? Many people start by reviewing the schools that are nearest to their residences. Once they have identified those that are within commuting distance, they are drawn toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are crucial issues when evaluating welder technical 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 vocational school to become a welder, it's sensible to develop 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 Certificate and Degree Training Classes
There are a number of options to receive training as a welder in a technical or trade school. You can earn 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 along with an apprenticeship program. Following are brief summaries of the most typical welding programs offered in the Selma AL area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are normally made available by technical and trade schools and take about one year to complete. They are more hands-on training in scope, designed primarily to develop welding skills. They can provide a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or supplemental skills for experienced welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take two years to finish 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 supplying the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
Many states and municipalities do have licensing requirements for welders, so be sure to check for your location of future employment. If needed, the welder school you pick should prep you for any licensing examinations that you will have to pass in addition to furnishing the appropriate training to become a professional welder.
Welding Certification Choices
There are several organizations that provide welding certifications, which assess the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Many Selma AL employers not only demand a certificate or degree from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a renowned agency such as the American Welding Society (AWS). Different certifications are offered based upon the type of work that the welder performs. A few of the things that certification can acknowledge are the welder's ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specific metal thicknesses
- Work with specific types of welds
- Perform based on contract specifications
As earlier mentioned, various states, cities or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those mandating licensing, a number also require certification for various kinds of work. Certification is also a way to prove to employers that you are an exceptionally skilled and knowledgeable welder. So just as with licensing, look into the requirements for your location and verify that the welder vocational school you decide on prepares you for certification if needed.
Points to Ask Welding Technical Programs
After you have decided on the credential you want to obtain, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can start to evaluate schools. As you can imagine, there are numerous welder vocational and trade schools in the Selma AL area. That's why it's essential to determine up front what qualifications your chosen school must have. We have previously covered two significant ones that many people look at first, which are location and tuition cost. As stated, although they are very important qualifications, they are not the only ones that need to be considered. After all, the program you select is going to provide the education that will be the foundation of your new career as a welder. So following are more factors you might need to consider before picking a welder vocational school.
Accreditation. It's very important that the welder vocational school you pick is accredited by either a national or a regional organization. There are 2 standard 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, such as Welding Technology. So confirm that the program you select is accredited, not just the school itself. 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 get a quality education, the accreditation can also help in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently not available in Selma AL for schools that are not accredited. Also, 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 welder certificate or degree programs are offered combined with an apprenticeship program. Various other schools will help place you in an apprenticeship or a job after graduation. Find out if the schools you are reviewing help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. These schools must have partnerships with local unions and other 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 placements. These programs can assist students in finding employment and develop associations within the Selma AL welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that enroll in an instructional program and complete it. It's crucial that the welding program you select has a high completion rate. A reduced rate could mean that the students who enrolled in the program were unhappy with the training, the teachers, or the facilities, and dropped out. The job placement rate is also a good indicator of the caliber of training. A higher job placement rate will not only affirm that the program has a good reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of Selma AL employer relationships to help students obtain employment or apprenticeships upon graduation.
Modern Equipment and Facilities. Once you have decreased your selection of welder schools to 2 or 3 options, you should consider visiting the campuses to inspect their facilities. Make sure that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be taught 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 not sure what to look for, and are currently in an apprenticeship program, ask the master welder you are working under for guidance. If not, ask a local Selma AL welding professional if they can give you some pointers.
School Location. Even though we already briefly talked about the relevance of location, there are a few additional points that we should deal with. You should keep in mind that unless you have the ability to move, the welding program you choose needs to be within commuting distance of your Selma AL home. If you do decide 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 welder degree programs offered by community colleges. Additionally, if the school offers an apprenticeship or job placement program, most likely their placements are within the school's regional community. So the location of the school should be in an area or state where you ultimately will desire to work.
Smaller Classes. One-on-one training is important for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's easy to get lost in larger classes and not get much personalized instruction. Find out what the typical class size is for the welder schools you are considering. Ask if you can sit in on a few classes so that you can see just how much personal attention the students are receiving. While there, talk with a few of the students and get their feedback. Also, talk to some 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 trade while still employed at their current job. Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are considering are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Selma AL, make sure that the schools you are considering provide those options. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the school you decide on offers part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the protocol is to make up classes if you you miss any because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Choose the Best Selma Welding School for Certification
Selecting the right welding training program will undoubtedly be the most important decision you will make to launch your new career. As we have addressed in this article, there are a number of factors that you will need to evaluate and compare among the programs you are reviewing. It's a prerequisite that any welder school that you are assessing includes a lot of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be small in size and every student must have their personal welding machine to train on. Classroom teaching needs to provide a real-world perspective, and the course of study should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Programs vary in duration and the kind of credential offered, so you will have to ascertain what length of program and degree or certificate will best fulfill your needs. Each training program provides different options for certification also. Probably The ideal way to research your short list of schools is to check out each campus and speak with the students and faculty. Take the time to sit in on a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the school you decide on is the right one for you. With the right training, hard work and dedication, the final result will be a new career as a professional welder in Selma AL.