How to Pick the Best Welder Certification Classes near Southside Alabama
Finding the ideal welding vocational school near Southside AL is an important first step to launching your new career as a professional welder. But since there are so many schools to select from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more importantly, once you have narrowed down your alternatives, how do you select the right one? A number of people start by reviewing the schools that are closest to their homes. Once they have identified those that are within driving distance, they gravitate toward the least expensive one. Yes, location and tuition cost are necessary considerations when evaluating welding vocational schools, but they are not the only ones. Other factors include such things as accreditation, reputation 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 chosen school must have. But before we examine our due diligence checklist, let's talk a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welding Certificate and Degree Training
There are a number of alternatives available to receive training as a welder in a technical or trade school. You can earn a a certificate, a diploma or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are available in Welding Engineering or Welding Technology, but are more advanced programs than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available along with an apprenticeship program. Below are short descriptions of the most typical welding programs available in the Southside AL area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are usually offered by technical and trade schools and require about a year to complete. They are more hands-on training in nature, fashioned largely to teach welding skills. They can furnish a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or specialized skills for working welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take two years to complete and are most often offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology furnishes a more well-rounded education than the diploma or certificate while still providing the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
Some states and municipalities do have licensing prerequisites for welders, so don't forget to find out for your location of future employment. If needed, the welding school you select should prepare you for any licensing examinations that you will need to take in addition to providing the proper training to become a professional welder.
Welding Certification Alternatives
There are multiple organizations that offer welding certifications, which assess the knowledge and skill level of those applying. Many Southside AL employers not only demand a certificate or degree 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 offered based upon the type of work that the welder does. Some of the things that certification can acknowledge are the welder's ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specific metal thicknesses
- Work with specific types of welds
- Work in compliance with contract specifications
As already stated, various cities, states or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those requiring licensing, many additionally require certification for various types of work. Certification is also a way to demonstrate to employers that you are an exceptionally skilled and qualified welder. So similarly as with licensing, check the requirements for your location and confirm that the welder trade school you choose preps you for certification if needed.
Topics to Ask Welder Vocational Schools
After you have chosen the credential you want to attain, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can begin to assess schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are a large number of welding vocational and trade schools in the Southside AL area. That's why it's important to determine up front what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have previously covered a couple of significant 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 looked at. After all, the school you decide on is going to furnish the training that will be the foundation of your new profession as a welder. So following are more factors you may need to consider before choosing a welder technical school.
Accreditation. It's essential that the welder tech school you pick is accredited by either a national or a regional agency. There are 2 basic types of accreditation. The school may earn Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on an individual program the school offers, such as Welding Technology. So confirm that the program you choose is accredited, not just the school alone. Additionally, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, such as the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). In addition to helping make sure that you obtain a quality education, the accreditation may also assist in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases not offered in Southside AL for schools that are not accredited. Also, for those states or municipalities that mandate licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited also.
Job Placement and Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous welder diploma or degree programs are offered combined with an apprenticeship program. Various other schools will assist in placing 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 placement program. The schools should have associations with local unions and various metal working businesses to which they can place their students. Older schools may have a larger network of graduates that they can utilize for referrals. These programs can assist students in finding employment and develop relationships within the Southside AL welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that start an instructional program and complete it. It's crucial that the welder program you select has a high completion rate. A lower rate might signify that the students who were in the program were unhappy 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 verify that the program has a good reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of Southside AL contacts to assist students secure employment or apprenticeships upon graduation.
Modern Equipment and Facilities. After you have limited your selection of welding programs to 2 or 3 possibilities, you should think out visiting the campuses to look over their facilities. Make sure that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are modern. Specifically, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be working with on the job. If you are uncertain 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 Southside AL welding contractor if they can give you a few pointers.
School Location. Although we previously briefly covered the importance of location, there are a couple of additional points that we should address. You should remember that unless you are able to move, the welder school you choose must be within driving distance of your Southside AL home. If you do opt to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation expenses there might be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially the case for welder certificate programs offered by community colleges. Also, if the school provides an apprenticeship or job placement 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. One-on-one instruction is important for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's possible to be lost in bigger classes and not get much one-on-one training. Find out what the average class size is for the welder schools you are reviewing. Ask if you can sit in on some classes so that you can witness how much personal attention the students are receiving. While there, speak with a few of the students and get their opinions. Also, talk to some of the trainers and ask what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they hold.
Convenient Class Schedules. Many people learn a new profession while still working at their current job. Make sure that the class schedules for the schools you are considering are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Southside AL, confirm that the schools you are reviewing offer those options. If you can only attend part-time, confirm that the school you choose offers part-time enrollment. Also, check to see what the protocol is to make up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family responsibilities.
Choose the Right Southside Welding Program for Certification
Picking the right welder training program will probably be the most critical decision you will make to launch your new career. As we have covered in this article, there are several factors that you will need to evaluate and compare between the schools you are looking at. It's a must that any welding training that you are considering includes a good deal of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be smaller in size and every student must have their personal welding machine to train on. Classroom education should offer a real-world frame of reference, and the training program should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Training programs vary in duration and the type of credential provided, so you will need to determine what length of program and certificate or degree will best satisfy your needs. Every training program offers different possibilities for certification also. Probably The ideal way to research your short list of schools is to check out each campus and speak with the students and instructors. Invest some time to sit in on 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 final outcome will be a new occupation as a professional welder in Southside AL.