How to Pick the Best Welding Certificate Program near Selma Alabama
Finding the right welding technical school near Selma AL is an important first step to beginning your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are so many schools to select from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more significantly, once you have fine tuned your choices, how do you select the best one? Many people start by checking out the schools that are closest to their residences. Once they have found those that are within commuting distance, they gravitate toward the least costly one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are important concerns when reviewing welding vocational schools, but they are not the only ones. Other factors 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 prudent to create 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 Certificate and Degree Training Programs
There are a number of options available to obtain training as a welder in a trade or technical 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 programs than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Following are short descriptions of the most prevalent welding programs offered in the Selma AL area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are generally offered by technical and trade schools and take about a year to complete. They are more hands-on training in nature, created mainly 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 certificate or diploma while still supplying 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. If needed, the welding school you select should prep you for any licensing examinations that you will need to pass in addition to furnishing the proper training to become a professional welder.
Welding Certification Choices
There are various organizations that provide welder certifications, which assess the knowledge and skill level of those applying. Many Selma AL employers not only expect a degree or certificate from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a respected agency such as the American Welding Society (AWS). Different certifications are available based upon the type of work that the welder performs. Some of the things that certification can acknowledge are the welder's ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with certain metal thicknesses
- Work with specific types of welds
- Work according to contract specifications
As already mentioned, many cities, states or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those requiring licensing, some also require certification for various types of work. Certification is also a way to demonstrate to employers that you are an exceptionally skilled and knowledgeable welder. So similarly as with licensing, check the requirements for your location and make sure that the welding technical school you decide on readies you for certification if needed.
What to Ask Welding Vocational Schools
Once you have decided on the credential you would like to attain, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can begin to evaluate schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are a large number of welder vocational and trade schools in the Selma AL area. That's why it's essential to establish in advance what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have previously covered two significant ones that many people consider first, which are location and tuition cost. As mentioned, although they are essential qualifications, they are not the only ones that need to be considered. After all, the program you choose is going to furnish the training that will be the foundation of your new career as a welder. So following are more factors you might want to consider before choosing a welding trade school.
Accreditation. It's essential that the welder vocational school you pick is accredited by either a national or a regional agency. There are 2 standard types of accreditation. The school may receive Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on an individual program the school has, for instance Welding Technology. So make sure 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 organization, such as the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). In addition to helping ensure that you obtain a superior education, the accreditation may also help in securing financial aid or student loans, which are often not offered in Selma AL for schools that are not accredited. 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. Numerous welder degree or diploma programs are offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Some other schools will assist in placing you in a job or an apprenticeship after graduation. Ask if the schools you are looking at help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. The schools should have associations with local unions and other 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 help students find employment and establish associations within the Selma 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 school you select has a higher completion rate. A low rate could signify that the students who were in the program were dissatisfied with the instruction, the teachers, or the facilities, and dropped out. The job placement rate is also a good indicator of the caliber of training. A high job placement rate will not only confirm that the school has a good reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of Selma AL employer relationships to help students obtain employment or apprenticeships upon graduation.
Modern Facilities and Equipment. After you have decreased your choice of welder programs to 2 or 3 options, you should consider going to the campuses to look over their facilities. Verify that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be trained on are modern. In particular, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be working with on the job. 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 Selma AL welding contractor if they can give you some pointers.
School Location. Even though we already briefly covered the relevance of location, there are a few additional points that we need to deal with. You should remember that unless you are able to relocate, the welder school you pick must be within driving distance of your Selma AL home. If you do opt to attend an out-of-state school, apart from moving costs there might be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly true for welding degree programs offered by community colleges. Additionally, if the school provides a job placement or apprenticeship program, often their placements are within the school's local community. So the location of the school should be in a region or state where you ultimately will wish to work.
Smaller Classes. Individualized instruction is essential for a manual trade such as welding. It's possible to be overlooked in bigger classes and not obtain much one-on-one instruction. Ask what the typical class size is for the welding programs you are looking at. Inquire if you can attend some classes so that you can witness just how much individual attention the students are receiving. While there, talk with some of the students and get their feedback. Also, speak with a couple of the teachers and find out what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they hold.
Flexible Class Scheduling. Some people learn a new trade while still working at their current job. Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are looking at are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Selma AL, verify 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 select 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 Right Selma Welding Training for Certification
Picking the best welder school will undoubtedly be the most critical decision you will make to launch your new trade. As we have covered in this article, there are many things that you will need to examine and compare among the programs you are looking at. It's a necessity that any welder school that you are considering includes a lot of hands-on instruction. Classes should be smaller in size and every student must have their own welding machine to train with. Classroom instruction needs to provide a real-world perspective, and the course of study should be current and in-line with industry standards. Courses differ in length and the type of credential offered, so you will need to decide what length of program and certificate or degree will best fulfill your needs. Every program provides different possibilities for certification as well. Perhaps the best way to research your short list of schools is to visit each campus and talk with the teachers and students. Invest some time to attend a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the program you choose is the ideal one for you. With the right training, effort and dedication, the end result will be a new trade as a professional welder in Selma AL.