How to Choose the Best Welder Vocational School near Selma Alabama
Selecting the ideal welder vocational school near Selma AL is an important first step to launching your new occupation 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 fine tuned your options, how do you pick the right one? Many people start by looking at the schools that are closest to their homes. Once they have located those that are within commuting distance, they gravitate toward the least expensive one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are necessary considerations when reviewing welder technical 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 vocational 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.
Welder Certificate and Degree Training Courses
There are a number of options to receive training as a welder in a trade or vocational school. You can receive a diploma, a certificate or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are available in Welding Technology or Welding Engineering, but are more advanced courses than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available combined with an apprenticeship program. Below are brief explanations of the most typical welding programs offered in the Selma AL area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are generally made available 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 supplemental skills for experienced welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take two years to complete and are most often offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology furnishes a more well-rounded education than the certificate or diploma while still furnishing the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
Many states and municipalities do have licensing requirements for welders, therefore make sure to find out for your location of future employment. If needed, the welding school you choose should prep you for any licensing examinations that you will have to take in addition to providing the proper training to become a qualified welder.
Welding Certification Options
There are a number of organizations that provide welding certifications, which test the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Numerous Selma AL employers not only expect a degree or certificate from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a respected agency like the American Welding Society (AWS). A variety of certifications are available based on the type of work that the welder performs. Just 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 various types of welds
- Operate in compliance with contract specifications
As already stated, some states, cities or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those calling for licensing, a number additionally 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, look into the requirements for your location and verify that the welder tech school you choose readies you for certification if needed.
Questions to Ask Welding Vocational Programs
As soon as you have decided on the credential you would like to earn, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can begin to evaluate schools. As you can imagine, there are numerous welding trade and vocational schools in the Selma AL area. That's why it's essential to decide up front what qualifications your chosen school must have. We have already discussed two important ones that most people look at first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As stated, although they are essential qualifications, they are not the only ones that must be considered. After all, the school you decide on is going to provide the instruction that will be the foundation of your new career as a welder. So following are some additional factors you may want to evaluate before choosing a welding tech school.
Accreditation. It's essential that the welding vocational school you choose is accredited by either a regional or a national organization. There are 2 standard kinds of accreditation. The school may earn 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 pick is accredited, not just the school itself. Additionally, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, such as the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). In addition to helping make sure that you receive an excellent education, the accreditation can also help in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases not offered in Selma AL for non-accredited schools. Finally, for those states or municipalities that mandate licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited as well.
Apprenticeship and Job Placement Programs. Many welding diploma or degree programs are offered combined with an apprenticeship program. Various other schools will help place you in a job or an apprenticeship upon graduation. Find out if the schools you are considering assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. These schools should have associations with local unions and other metal working businesses to which they can refer their students. More established schools may have a larger network of graduates that they can utilize for referrals. These programs can help students find employment and establish relationships within the Selma AL welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that start an instructional program and finish it. It's important that the welding program you choose has a higher completion rate. A reduced rate could mean that the students who joined the program were unhappy 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 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.
Up-to-date Facilities and Equipment. After you have narrowed down your choice of welding schools to 2 or 3 possibilities, you should think out going to 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. Specifically, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be using on the job. If you are not sure 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 tips.
School Location. Although we already briefly talked about the significance of location, there are a few additional issues that we should cover. You should bear in mind that unless you are able to move, the welder school you pick must be within driving distance of your Selma AL home. If you do decide 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 welder degree programs offered by community colleges. Additionally, 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 want to work.
Smaller Classes. Individualized training is essential for a manual trade such as welding. It's possible to get overlooked in larger classes and not obtain much individualized instruction. Ask what the typical class size is for the welder schools you are considering. Inquire if you can sit in on a couple of classes so that you can experience just how much personal attention the students are getting. While there, talk with some of the students and get their opinions. Similarly, chat with a couple of the teachers and ask what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they have earned.
Convenient Class Schedules. Many people learn a new profession while still working at their present job. Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are reviewing are convenient enough to satisfy your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Selma AL, make sure that the schools you are considering offer those alternatives. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, verify that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the policy is to make up classes should you miss any due to illness, work or family circumstances.
Find the Right Selma Welding Program for Certification
Choosing the ideal welding training program will probably be the most important decision you will make to start your new profession. As we have covered 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 welding training program that you are reviewing includes a lot of hands-on instruction. Classes should be smaller in size and every student should have their own welding machine to train on. Classroom instruction needs to provide a real-world perspective, and the training program should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Training programs vary in length and the kind of credential offered, so you will need to decide what length of program and degree or certificate will best satisfy your needs. Every program provides unique possibilities for certification also. Probably The ideal way to research your short list of schools is to check out each campus and talk with the teachers and students. Invest some time to monitor a few classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the training program you choose is the ideal one for you. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, the end result will be a new career as a professional welder in Selma AL.