How to Select the Right Welding Training Program near Smiths Station Alabama
Selecting the right welder trade school near Smiths Station AL is an essential first step to beginning 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 importantly, once you have fine tuned your alternatives, how do you select the best one? Most prospective students start by looking at the schools that are closest to their homes. Once they have found those that are within commuting distance, they are drawn toward the least expensive one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are important considerations when examining welder vocational schools, but they are not the only ones. Other considerations include such things as accreditation, reputation and job placement rates. So before beginning your search for a vocational school to become a welder, it's sensible to establish a list of qualifications that your selected school must have. But before we delve into our due diligence checklist, let's cover a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welding Certificate and Degree Training
There are several options available to obtain 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 available in Welding Technology or Welding Engineering, but are more advanced programs than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available along with an apprenticeship program. Following are short explanations of the most typical welding programs available in the Smiths Station AL area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are generally offered by technical and trade schools and take about a year to complete. They are more hands-on training in nature, designed mainly to teach welding skills. They can provide 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 offers a more well-rounded education than the certificate or diploma while still supplying the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
A number of states and municipalities do have licensing requirements for welders, therefore don't forget to check for your location of potential employment. As required, the welder school you select should prep you for any licensing exams that you will need to take in addition to furnishing the suitable training to become a qualified welder.
Welder Certification Options
There are a number of organizations that offer welder certifications, which test the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Many Smiths Station AL employers not only demand a degree or certificate from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a highly regarded agency such as the American Welding Society (AWS). A variety of certifications are available dependent on the kind of work that the welder performs. Some of the things that certification can attest to are the welder's ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specified metal thicknesses
- Work with specific kinds of welds
- Perform according to contract specifications
As already mentioned, many states, cities or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those requiring licensing, some additionally require certification for different types of work. Certification is also a way to prove to employers that you are an extremely skilled and knowledgeable welder. So just as with licensing, check the requirements for your location and make sure that the welding vocational school you select preps you for certification if needed.
Subjects to Ask Welding Technical Schools
As soon as you have chosen the credential you would like to earn, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can start to assess schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are a large number of welder trade and technical schools in the Smiths Station AL area. That's why it's important to determine in advance what qualifications your selected school must have. We have previously 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 qualifiers, they are not the only ones that need to be considered. After all, the school you select is going to furnish the education that will be the foundation of your new vocation as a welder. So below are more factors you might want to consider before choosing a welding technical school.
Accreditation. It's essential that the welding technical school you decide on is accredited by either a regional or a national agency. There are two standard 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 offers, for example Welding Technology. So verify that the program you pick is accredited, not just the school itself. Additionally, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, like the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). In addition to helping ensure that you get an excellent education, the accreditation can also assist in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable in Smiths Station AL for non-accredited schools. Finally, for those states or local governments that mandate licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited also.
Apprenticeship and Job Assistance Programs. A large number of welder certificate or degree programs are provided in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Some other schools will help place you in a job or an apprenticeship upon graduation. Ask if the schools you are considering assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. The schools should have partnerships with local unions and other metal working businesses to which they can place their students. More established schools may have a more substantial network of graduates that they can rely upon for referrals. These programs can help students find employment and develop relationships within the Smiths Station AL welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that begin an educational program and complete it. It's important that the welding program you choose has a higher completion rate. A low rate might signify that the students who joined 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 confirm that the program has an excellent reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of Smiths Station AL contacts to assist students secure apprenticeships or employment upon graduation.
Up-to-date 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. Confirm that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are modern. In particular, the training equipment should be comparable to what you will be working with in the field. 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. If not, ask a local Smiths Station AL welding contractor if they can give you a few pointers.
School Location. Although we already briefly talked about the relevance of location, there are a couple of additional points that we need to address. You should bear in mind that unless you have the ability to move, the welding school you select needs to be within commuting distance of your Smiths Station AL home. If you do decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides relocation expenses there may be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially true for welder diploma programs offered by community colleges. Furthermore, if the school provides a job placement or apprenticeship program, most likely 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 instruction is essential for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's easy to get lost in bigger classes and not obtain much personalized training. Ask what the typical class size is for the welder schools you are reviewing. Inquire if you can sit in on a few classes so that you can see just how much individual attention the students are getting. While there, speak with a few of the students and get their opinions. Also, speak with a few of the teachers and find out what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they hold.
Convenient Class Scheduling. Many people learn a new profession while still employed at their present job. Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are convenient enough to satisfy your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Smiths Station AL, make sure that the schools you are considering offer those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, confirm that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the protocol is to make up classes should you miss any due to illness, work or family circumstances.
Choose the Best Smiths Station Welding Training for Certification
Picking the right welding school will probably be the most critical decision you will make to begin your new career. As we have discussed in this article, there are a number of factors that you will need to assess and compare between the schools you are considering. It's a necessity that any welding school that you are considering includes a considerable amount of hands-on training. Classes should be smaller in size and every student should have their personal welding machine to train with. Classroom education should provide a real-world frame of reference, and the training program should be current and conform with industry standards. Training programs differ in duration and the type of credential provided, so you will have to ascertain what length of program and degree or certificate will best fulfill your needs. Each program offers different possibilities for certification also. Perhaps the best way to research your short list of schools is to check out each campus and speak with the students and instructors. Take the time to attend a few classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the school you pick is the ideal one for you. With the proper training, effort and commitment, the end result will be a new occupation as a professional welder in Smiths Station AL.