How to Find the Best Welding Trade School near Smiths Station Alabama
Enrolling in the right welding trade school near Smiths Station AL is an essential first step to beginning your new career as a professional welder. But since there are a lot of schools to choose from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more significantly, once you have narrowed down your choices, how do you select the best one? Most prospective students begin by checking out the schools that are closest to their residences. Once they have identified those that are within commuting distance, they gravitate toward the least costly one. Yes, location and tuition cost are crucial considerations when evaluating welding technical 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 sensible to create a list of qualifications that your selected 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 Degree and Certificate Programs
There are several 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 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. Following are short descriptions of the most common welding programs available in the Smiths Station AL area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are generally made available by technical and trade schools and take about a year to complete. They are more hands-on training in scope, fashioned mainly to teach 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 complete and are most often offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology provides a more well-rounded education than the certificate or diploma while still providing the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
Many states and municipalities do have licensing prerequisites for welders, so make sure to find out for your location of potential employment. As required, the welder school you select should prep you for any licensing examinations that you will need to pass in addition to furnishing the appropriate training to become a qualified welder.
Welding Certification Alternatives
There are various institutions that provide welding certifications, which evaluate the knowledge and skill level of those applying. Numerous Smiths Station AL employers not only demand a degree or certificate from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a respected agency like the American Welding Society (AWS). Different certifications are available dependent on the kind of work that the welder does. Some of the skills that certification can attest to are the welder's ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with certain metal thicknesses
- Work with specific kinds of welds
- Operate in compliance with contract specifications
As formerly mentioned, many cities, states or local municipalities have licensing mandates 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 extremely skilled and knowledgeable welder. So just 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.
Topics to Ask Welding Vocational Schools
Once you have chosen the credential you would like to earn, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can begin to assess schools. As you probably know, there are many welder trade and technical schools in the Smiths Station AL area. That's why it's important to establish in advance what qualifications your chosen school must have. We have already covered two important ones that many people look at first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As mentioned, although they are very important qualifications, they are not the only ones that need to be considered. After all, the school you choose is going to provide the instruction that will be the foundation of your new vocation as a welder. So following are more factors you may want to evaluate before choosing a welding tech school.
Accreditation. It's extremely important that the welder tech school you select is accredited by either a national or a regional organization. There are two basic kinds of accreditation. The school may receive Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a specific program the school has, for instance Welding Technology. So confirm that the program you select is accredited, not just the school alone. Also, 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 ensure that you receive a superior education, the accreditation can also help in getting financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases not available in Smiths Station AL for schools that are not accredited. Also, for those states or local governments that mandate licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited as well.
Job Placement and Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous welding degree or certificate programs are provided combined with an apprenticeship program. Some other schools will help place you in an apprenticeship or a job upon graduation. Find out if the schools you are reviewing help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance 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 more substantial network of graduates that they can utilize for referrals. These programs can assist students in finding employment and establish associations within the Smiths Station AL welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that enroll in an educational program and finish it. It's important that the welding program you pick has a higher completion rate. A lower rate might signify that the students who were in the program were dissatisfied with the training, the instructors, or the facilities, and quit. The job placement rate is also an indication of the caliber of training. A higher job placement rate will not only confirm that the program has an excellent reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of Smiths Station AL employer relationships to assist students obtain apprenticeships or employment after graduation.
Modern Equipment and Facilities. After you have decreased your selection of welding schools to 2 or 3 possibilities, you should consider going to the campuses to evaluate 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 comparable to what you will be working with on the job. If you are not sure what to look for, and are currently in an apprenticeship program, consult with the master welder you are working under for guidance. Otherwise, ask a local Smiths Station AL welding professional if they can give you some pointers.
School Location. Even though we previously briefly discussed the relevance of location, there are a couple of additional issues that we should deal with. You should bear in mind that unless you can move, the welder program you choose must be within commuting distance of your Smiths Station AL home. If you do choose to enroll in an out-of-state school, apart from relocation costs there could be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially the case for welding diploma programs offered by community colleges. Furthermore, if the school offers a job placement or apprenticeship program, often 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 want to work.
Small Classes. Personalized instruction is essential for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's easy to get overlooked in bigger classes and not receive much individualized instruction. Ask what the usual class size is for the welding schools you are looking at. Inquire if you can sit in on a couple of classes so that you can experience how much personal attention the students are getting. While there, speak with some of the students and get their opinions. Also, talk with some of the instructors and find out what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they have earned.
Flexible Class Schedules. Many people learn a new trade while still working at their current job. Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are considering are convenient enough to satisfy your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Smiths Station AL, make certain that the schools you are assessing provide those choices. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, confirm that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the protocol is to make up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family circumstances.
Choose the Right Smiths Station Welding Training for Certification
Choosing the right welder school will probably be the most critical decision you will make to launch your new profession. As we have covered in this article, there are many things that you will need to assess and compare among the schools you are considering. It's a prerequisite that any welder school that you are evaluating includes a good deal of hands-on training. Classes need to be smaller in size and each student should have their personal welding machine to train on. Classroom teaching should provide a real-world context, and the training program should be current and conform with industry standards. Training programs differ in length and the kind of credential provided, so you will have to ascertain what length of program and credential will best fulfill your needs. Every training program provides unique possibilities for certification also. Perhaps The ideal means to research your short list of schools is to visit each campus and talk with the students and instructors. Invest some time to attend some 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 proper training, hard work and commitment, the final result will be a new trade as a professional welder in Smiths Station AL.