How to Find the Right Welding Trade School near Selma Alabama
Finding the right welding vocational school near Selma AL is an essential first step to launching your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are a lot of schools to select from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more notably, once you have fine tuned your options, how do you pick the best one? Many people begin by looking at the schools that are closest to their homes. Once they have found those that are within commuting distance, they gravitate toward the least expensive one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are necessary issues when evaluating welding trade schools, but they are not the only ones. Other concerns include such things as reputation, accreditation and job placement rates. So before initiating your search for a trade school to become a welder, it's sensible to develop a list of qualifications that your selected school must have. But before we examine our due diligence checklist, let's talk a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welder Degree and Certificate Training Programs
There are several options available to get training as a welder in a trade or vocational school. You can obtain a a certificate, a diploma 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 in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Following are short summaries of the most common welding programs offered in the Selma AL area.
- Certificate and Diploma 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 mainly to develop welding skills. They can furnish a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or specialized 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 furnishes a more extensive education than the diploma or certificate while still furnishing the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
Some states and municipalities do have licensing prerequisites for welders, therefore be sure to check for your location of potential employment. If needed, the welder school you pick should prep you for any licensing exams that you will have to pass in addition to supplying the proper training to become a qualified welder.
Welder Certification Alternatives
There are several institutions that offer welding certifications, which test the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Many Selma AL employers not only expect a degree or certificate from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a respected agency like the American Welding Society (AWS). A variety of certifications are offered based on the type of work that the welder performs. Just some of the skills that certification can acknowledge are the welder's ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with certain metal thicknesses
- Work with various kinds of welds
- Work based on contract specifications
As earlier stated, many states, cities or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those requiring licensing, a number additionally require certification for various types of work. Certification is also a means to prove 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 welder tech school you select readies you for certification as needed.
Subjects to Ask Welding Vocational Schools
After you have chosen the credential you would like to earn, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can begin to compare schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are numerous welding trade and technical schools in the Selma AL area. That's why it's necessary to decide in advance what qualifications your chosen school must have. We have already covered 2 significant ones that most people look at first, which are location and tuition cost. As mentioned, although they are very important qualifications, they are not the only ones that must be considered. After all, the school you select is going to furnish the education that will be the foundation of your new profession as a welder. So following are some additional factors you might want to evaluate before selecting a welder technical school.
Accreditation. It's very important that the welding vocational school you decide on is accredited by either a regional or a national organization. There are 2 standard types of accreditation. The school may attain Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on an individual program the school offers, such as Welding Technology. So verify that the program you select 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). Besides helping make sure that you receive a quality education, the accreditation might also help in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not available in Selma AL for schools that are not accredited. Finally, for those states or local governments that mandate licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited also.
Job Placement and Apprenticeship Programs. Many welder diploma or degree programs are provided combined with an apprenticeship program. Some other schools will assist in placing you in a job or an apprenticeship after graduation. Find out if the schools you are reviewing assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. The schools must have relationships with local unions and various metal working businesses to which they can refer their students. Older schools may have a more substantial 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.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that enroll in an instructional program and finish it. It's important that the welder school you pick has a high completion rate. A reduced rate could indicate that the students who joined the program were dissatisfied with the training, the teachers, or the facilities, and dropped out. The job placement rate is also a good indicator 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 also that it has the network of Selma AL contacts to help students obtain apprenticeships or employment after graduation.
Modern Facilities and Equipment. After you have decreased your choice of welding programs to two or three possibilities, you should consider going to the campuses to evaluate their facilities. Make sure that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be instructed on are up-to-date. Specifically, the training equipment should be comparable to what you will be working with on the job. If you are unsure what to look for, and are currently in an apprenticeship program, consult with the master welder you are working under for guidance. If not, ask a local Selma AL welding contractor if they can give you a few suggestions.
School Location. Even though we previously briefly discussed the relevance of location, there are a couple of additional issues that we should cover. You should keep in mind that unless you can move, the welding school you pick must be within driving distance of your Selma AL home. If you do choose to attend an out-of-state school, apart from relocation costs there might be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly true for welder diploma 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 a region or state where you ultimately will want to work.
Smaller Classes. Personalized instruction is important for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's possible to be lost in larger classes and not get much personalized instruction. Find out what the average class size is for the welder schools you are looking at. Inquire if you can sit in on a couple of classes so that you can observe just how much individual attention the students are getting. While there, speak with a few of the students and get their evaluations. Similarly, talk with a few of the teachers and ask what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they hold.
Convenient Class Scheduling. Lots of folks learn a new trade while still employed at their present job. Check to see that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Selma AL, verify that the schools you are assessing offer those alternatives. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you pick offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the protocol is to make up classes if you you miss any because of illness, work or family circumstances.
Choose the Right Selma Welding Program for Certification
Selecting the right welding training program will probably be the most critical decision you will make to start your new profession. As we have discussed in this article, there are a number of factors that you will need to examine and compare among the programs you are considering. It's a necessity that any welder school that you are reviewing includes a considerable amount of hands-on training. Classes should be small in size and each student should have their own welding machine to train with. Classroom instruction needs to provide a real-world frame of reference, and the training program should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Courses differ in length and the type of credential provided, so you will need to decide what length of program and certificate or degree will best fulfill your needs. Each program provides unique possibilities for certification also. Probably The ideal way to research your short list of schools is to visit each campus and speak with the teachers and students. Invest some time to attend some classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the program you pick is the right one for you. With the right training, hard work and dedication, the end result will be a new career as a professional welder in Selma AL.