How to Enroll In the Right Welder Training Program near Smiths Station Alabama
Locating the right welder school near Smiths Station AL is an important first step to starting your new career as a professional welder. But since there are a lot of schools to select from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more significantly, once you have narrowed down your choices, how do you select the best one? Most people begin by checking out the schools that are nearest to their residences. Once they have located those that are within commuting distance, they are drawn toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are necessary considerations when examining welding technical schools, but they are not the only ones. Other considerations 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 create a list of qualifications that your selected school must have. But before we explore our due diligence checklist, let's talk a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welding Certificate and Degree Training Courses
There are multiple options available to receive training as a welder in a trade or vocational school. You can obtain a diploma, a certificate or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are offered in Welding Engineering or Welding Technology, but are more advanced courses than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Below are brief summaries of the most common welding programs available in the Smiths Station AL area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are usually offered by technical and trade schools and require about one year to finish. They are more hands-on training in nature, created largely to teach welding skills. They can provide a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or supplemental skills for working welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take 2 years to complete and are usually 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.
A number of states and municipalities do have licensing prerequisites for welders, therefore be sure to check for your location of future employment. As required, the welding school you choose should prep you for any licensing exams that you will need to take in addition to furnishing the appropriate training to become a professional welder.
Welding Certification Choices
There are several organizations that offer welder certifications, which evaluate the knowledge and skill level of those applying. A large number of Smiths Station AL employers not only demand a degree or certificate from an accredited welding program, 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 does. Some of the things that certification can attest to are the welder's ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with certain metal thicknesses
- Work with specific kinds of welds
- Work in compliance with contract specifications
As already mentioned, some cities, states or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those calling for licensing, some also require certification for various types of work. Certification is also a way to prove to employers that you are an extremely skilled and qualified welder. So just as with licensing, look into the requirements for your location and make certain that the welding trade school you select prepares you for certification if needed.
What to Ask Welding Tech Programs
As soon as you have decided on the credential you want to earn, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can start to evaluate schools. As you probably know, there are numerous welder trade and vocational schools in the Smiths Station AL area. That's why it's important to establish up front what qualifications your selected school must have. We have previously covered a couple of important ones that many people consider first, which are location and tuition cost. As stated, although they are essential qualifications, they are not the only ones that must be considered. After all, the program you select is going to furnish the education that will be the foundation of your new vocation as a welder. So following are more factors you may need to consider before choosing a welding technical school.
Accreditation. It's extremely important that the welder tech school you choose is accredited by either a regional or a national 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 an individual program the school has, such as Welding Technology. So make certain 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 agency, for example 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 help in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently 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.
Job Placement and Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous welder diploma or degree programs are offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Other schools will assist in placing you in an apprenticeship or a job upon graduation. Ask if the schools you are considering help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. The schools must have relationships with local unions and other 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 referrals. These programs can help students find employment and develop associations within the Smiths Station AL welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that start an academic program and finish it. It's essential that the welding school you pick has a high completion rate. A reduced rate may signify that the students who were in the program were unhappy with the instruction, the instructors, or the facilities, and quit. 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 trade, but additionally that it has the network of Smiths Station AL contacts to assist students obtain apprenticeships or employment upon graduation.
Up-to-date Equipment and Facilities. Once you have limited your selection of welder schools to two or three options, you should think out visiting the campuses to inspect their facilities. Verify that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are modern. Specifically, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be using in the field. If you are not sure what to look for, and are already in an apprenticeship program, consult with the master welder you are working under for guidance. If not, ask a local Smiths Station AL welding professional if they can give you a few suggestions.
School Location. Even though we previously briefly talked about the significance of location, there are a couple of additional issues that we need to deal with. You should keep in mind that unless you have the ability to move, the welding school you pick must be within commuting distance of your Smiths Station AL home. If you do decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides relocation expenses there could be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly the case for welder degree 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 regional community. So the location of the school needs to be in a region or state where you subsequently will wish to work.
Smaller Classes. Individualized training is essential for a manual trade such as welding. It's possible to get lost in bigger classes and not obtain much individualized instruction. Ask what the average class size is for the welder programs you are reviewing. Inquire if you can sit in on some classes so that you can observe how much individual attention the students are receiving. While there, speak with several of the students and get their feedback. Also, talk with a couple of the teachers and ask what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they have earned.
Flexible Class Scheduling. Many people learn a new profession while still working at their present job. Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are reviewing are flexible 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 looking at offer those options. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, verify that the school you choose offers part-time enrollment. Also, check to see what the protocol is to make up classes if you you miss any due to illness, work or family responsibilities.
Find the Right Smiths Station Welding Training for Certification
Choosing the right welder training program will probably be the most critical decision you will make to begin your new trade. As we have discussed in this article, there are many things that you will need to evaluate and compare between the schools you are considering. It's a must that any welder school that you are assessing includes a considerable amount of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be small in size and every student should have their personal welding machine to train on. Classroom instruction needs to provide a real-world context, and the training program should be current and in-line with industry standards. Training programs vary in duration and the type of credential offered, so you will have to determine what length of program and degree or certificate will best satisfy your needs. Every training program offers different options for certification also. Perhaps the best approach to research your final list of schools is to visit each campus and talk with the faculty and students. Invest some time to monitor some classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the training program you select is the best one for you. With the right training, hard work and dedication, the end outcome will be a new trade as a professional welder in Smiths Station AL.