How to Pick the Right Welder Training Program near Smiths Station Alabama
Selecting the right welding technical 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 select from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more notably, once you have fine tuned your choices, how do you select the best one? Most people begin by reviewing the schools that are closest to their residences. Once they have located those that are within commuting distance, they are drawn toward the least costly one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are crucial issues when examining welding technical schools, but they are not the only ones. Other factors 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 prudent 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 Degree and Certificate Training Classes
There are several options available to obtain training as a welder in a technical or trade school. You can obtain a a certificate, a diploma or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are offered in Welding Technology or Welding Engineering, but are more advanced degrees than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also offered along with an apprenticeship program. Following are brief explanations of the most prevalent welding programs available in the Smiths Station AL area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are usually made available by trade and technical schools and take about a year to complete. They are more hands-on training in scope, fashioned primarily to develop 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 two years to complete and are usually offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology provides a more extensive education than the diploma or certificate while still providing the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
Some municipalities and states do have licensing requirements for welders, therefore be sure to check for your location of future employment. If needed, the welder school you select should prep you for any licensing examinations that you will need to pass in addition to supplying the appropriate training to become a qualified welder.
Welder Certification Choices
There are various organizations that offer welding certifications, which evaluate the skill level and knowledge 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 such as the American Welding Society (AWS). Different certifications are available based upon 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
- Work based on contract specifications
As already mentioned, some states, cities or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those mandating licensing, many additionally require certification for different kinds of work. Certification is also a means to prove to employers that you are a highly skilled and qualified welder. So similarly as with licensing, look into the requirements for your location and make sure that the welding technical school you choose readies you for certification as needed.
Topics to Ask Welding Tech Programs
Once you have decided on the credential you would like to earn, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can begin to compare schools. As you can imagine, there are many welder trade and technical schools in the Smiths Station AL area. That's why it's essential to determine up front what qualifications your selected school must have. We have previously discussed two significant ones that most people consider first, which are location and tuition cost. As mentioned, although they are essential qualifiers, they are not the only ones that must be looked at. After all, the school you select is going to provide the education that will be the foundation of your new profession as a welder. So below are more factors you may need to consider before selecting a welding trade school.
Accreditation. It's essential that the welding vocational school you select is accredited by either a national or a regional organization. There are 2 standard kinds of accreditation. The school may receive Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a single program the school has, for instance Welding Technology. So make sure that the program you select is accredited, not just the school alone. Additionally, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, for example the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping make sure that you obtain an excellent education, the accreditation might also help in getting financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases not offered in Smiths Station AL for schools that are not accredited. Finally, for those states or local governments that require licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited also.
Apprenticeship and Job Assistance Programs. Numerous welding degree or certificate programs are offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Some other schools will assist in placing you in a job or an apprenticeship after graduation. Ask if the schools you are looking at assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. The schools must have associations with local unions and various metal working businesses to which they can place their students. More established schools may have a larger network of graduates that they can rely upon for placements. 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 enroll in an educational program and finish it. It's essential that the welding school you choose has a high completion rate. A low rate might indicate that the students who enrolled in the program were unhappy with the instruction, the teachers, or the facilities, and dropped out. The job placement rate is also an indication of the quality of training. A high job placement rate will not only affirm that the program has an excellent reputation within the trade, but additionally that it has the network of Smiths Station AL contacts to assist students obtain employment or apprenticeships after graduation.
Modern Equipment and Facilities. After you have limited your choice of welder schools to 2 or 3 options, you should think out visiting 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 in the field. If you are uncertain what to look for, and are already 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 a few pointers.
School Location. Even though we previously briefly talked about the importance of location, there are a couple of additional issues that we need to deal with. You should bear in mind that unless you can relocate, the welder program you pick must be within commuting distance of your Smiths Station AL home. If you do opt to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides moving costs there may be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially the case for welder degree programs offered by community colleges. Also, if the school offers 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 desire to work.
Smaller Classes. One-on-one instruction is essential for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's possible to get overlooked in larger classes and not receive much personalized instruction. Ask what the average class size is for the welding programs you are considering. Ask if you can attend a couple of classes so that you can witness how much individual attention the students are getting. While there, talk with some of the students and get their opinions. Also, talk to a couple of the trainers and ask what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they hold.
Convenient Class Schedules. Some people learn a new profession while still working at their present job. Confirm that the class schedules for the schools you are reviewing are convenient enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Smiths Station AL, make certain that the schools you are assessing offer those alternatives. If you can only enroll part-time, make sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, check to see what the protocol is to make up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family circumstances.
Choose the Right Smiths Station Welding Training for Certification
Choosing the ideal welding training program will probably be the most critical decision you will make to launch your new trade. As we have addressed in this article, there are several things that you will need to examine and compare among the programs you are looking at. It's a necessity that any welder training that you are examining includes a considerable amount of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be small in size and each student must have their personal welding machine to train with. Classroom education should offer a real-world perspective, and the curriculum should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Programs vary in duration and the type of credential provided, so you will have to determine what length of program and degree or certificate will best fulfill your needs. Each program provides unique options for certification also. Perhaps The ideal means to research your final list of schools is to go to each campus and speak with the students and faculty. Invest some time to sit in on a few classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the program you choose is the ideal one for you. With the right training, effort and commitment, the end outcome will be a new trade as a professional welder in Smiths Station AL.