How to Select the Best Welding Certification Course near Sheffield Alabama
Choosing the ideal welding technical school near Sheffield AL is an essential first step to beginning your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are numerous schools to pick from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more importantly, once you have fine tuned your alternatives, how do you pick the right one? A number of prospective students begin by looking at the schools that are nearest to their residences. Once they have identified those that are within commuting distance, they are drawn toward the least expensive one. Yes, location and tuition cost are necessary considerations when examining welder trade schools, but they are not the only ones. Other factors include such things as reputation, accreditation and job placement rates. So before beginning your search for a trade school to become a welder, it's prudent to establish a list of qualifications that your chosen school must have. But before we explore our due diligence checklist, let's cover a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welding Degree and Certificate Training Programs
There are several alternatives available to get training as a welder in a trade or technical school. You can obtain a a certificate, a diploma or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are offered in Welding Engineering or Welding Technology, but are more advanced degrees than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Below are short summaries of the most typical welding programs offered in the Sheffield AL area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are generally offered by trade and technical schools and require about one year to complete. They are more hands-on training in scope, created mainly to teach welding skills. They can furnish a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or supplemental skills for working welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take 2 years to finish and are usually offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology offers a more extensive education than the certificate or diploma while still furnishing the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
Many municipalities and states do have licensing requirements for welders, therefore make sure to find out for your location of future employment. As needed, the welding school you pick should prep you for any licensing examinations that you will need to pass in addition to providing the suitable training to become a qualified welder.
Welding Certification Options
There are multiple organizations that offer welder certifications, which evaluate the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Numerous Sheffield AL employers not only expect a degree or certificate from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a highly regarded agency like the American Welding Society (AWS). A variety of certifications are offered based upon the kind of work that the welder performs. Just some of the skills that certification can attest to are the welder's ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specified metal thicknesses
- Work with certain types of welds
- Operate according to contract specifications
As formerly mentioned, various states, cities or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those calling for licensing, some also require certification for various kinds of work. Certification is also a way to prove to employers that you are a highly skilled and qualified welder. So similarly as with licensing, check the requirements for your local area and make certain that the welder trade school you select readies you for certification as needed.
Subjects to Ask Welder Vocational Programs
Once you have chosen the credential you would like to attain, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can begin to evaluate schools. As you probably know, there are many welding trade and technical schools in the Sheffield AL area. That's why it's essential to decide up front what qualifications your selected school must have. We have previously covered two significant ones that most people consider first, which are location and tuition cost. As stated, although they are essential qualifications, they are not the only ones that need to be considered. After all, the program you decide on is going to provide the training that will be the foundation of your new profession as a welder. So below are more factors you might want to evaluate before selecting a welder technical school.
Accreditation. It's very important that the welder trade 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 an individual program the school offers, for example Welding Technology. So verify that the program you select is accredited, not just the school alone. Additionally, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, like the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). In addition to helping ensure that you obtain a superior education, the accreditation might also help in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently not available in Sheffield AL for schools that are not accredited. Finally, for those states or municipalities that require licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited as well.
Job Placement and Apprenticeship Programs. Many welder degree or diploma programs are provided in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Other schools will help place you in an apprenticeship or a job after graduation. Ask if the schools you are reviewing help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. These 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 rely upon for placements. These programs can help students find employment and establish associations within the Sheffield AL welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that enroll in an instructional program and finish it. It's important that the welding school you select has a high completion rate. A reduced rate might mean that the students who were in the program were unhappy with the training, the teachers, or the facilities, and dropped out. The job placement rate is also an indication of the caliber 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 Sheffield AL employer relationships to assist students secure employment or apprenticeships after graduation.
Modern Facilities and Equipment. Once you have limited your selection of welder schools to 2 or 3 possibilities, you should consider going to the campuses to inspect their facilities. Make sure that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are up-to-date. In particular, 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 Sheffield AL welding professional if they can give you a few suggestions.
School Location. Even though we previously briefly talked about the relevance of location, there are a couple of additional issues that we should address. You should remember that unless you can move, the welder program you pick must be within driving distance of your Sheffield AL home. If you do decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides relocation costs there could be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly the case for welder diploma programs offered by community colleges. Additionally, if the school provides a job placement or apprenticeship program, more than likely their placements are within the school's regional community. So the location of the school needs to be in a region or state where you ultimately will wish to work.
Smaller Classes. Individualized instruction is important for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's easy to get overlooked in bigger classes and not obtain much one-on-one instruction. Find out what the usual class size is for the welder schools you are reviewing. Inquire if you can attend a couple of classes so that you can observe just how much personal attention the students are receiving. While there, speak with some of the students and get their opinions. Also, talk to some of the trainers and ask what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they have earned.
Convenient Class Scheduling. Many people learn a new profession while still working at their present job. Make sure that the class schedules for the schools you are reviewing are flexible enough to satisfy your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Sheffield AL, make sure that the schools you are looking at offer those alternatives. If you can only enroll part-time, make certain that the school you decide on offers part-time enrollment. Also, check to see what the policy is to make up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Sheffield Welding Training for Certification
Picking the ideal welder school will probably be the most important decision you will make to start your new career. As we have covered in this article, there are many things that you will need to evaluate and compare among the schools you are reviewing. It's a prerequisite that any welder school that you are considering includes a good deal of hands-on training. Classes need to be smaller in size and each student should have their own welding machine to train with. Classroom instruction needs to provide a real-world perspective, and the curriculum should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Programs differ in length and the kind of credential offered, so you will have to ascertain what length of program and certificate or degree will best serve your needs. Each program offers different options for certification as well. Perhaps the best means to research your final list of schools is to visit 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 program you select is the best one for you. With the right training, effort and dedication, the end result will be a new occupation as a professional welder in Sheffield AL.