How to Enroll In the Right Welder Certification Classes near Southside Alabama
Enrolling in the right welder vocational school near Southside AL is an important first step to starting 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 importantly, once you have fine tuned your options, how do you pick the right one? Most prospective students begin by checking out the schools that are closest to their homes. When they have found those that are within commuting distance, they gravitate toward the least costly one. Yes, location and tuition cost are important concerns when reviewing welding vocational schools, but they are not the only ones. Other factors 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 prudent to create a list of qualifications that your chosen school must have. But before we explore our due diligence checklist, let's talk a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welder Certificate and Degree Training Programs
There are a number of options to get training as a welder in a trade or technical school. You can receive a a certificate, a diploma or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are offered in Welding Technology or Welding Engineering, but are more advanced courses than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also offered combined with an apprenticeship program. Below are brief explanations of the most typical welding programs offered in the Southside AL area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are generally offered by trade and technical schools and take about a year to finish. They are more hands-on training in nature, created mainly to teach welding skills. They can furnish a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or additional 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 supplying the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
A number of municipalities and states do have licensing prerequisites for welders, so don't forget to find out for your location of future employment. As needed, the welder school you select should prep you for any licensing examinations that you will have to pass in addition to furnishing the proper training to become a qualified welder.
Welding Certification Alternatives
There are a number of organizations that offer welding certifications, which test the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Many Southside AL employers not only expect 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 type of work that the welder does. Just some of the skills that certification can attest to are the welder's ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specified metal thicknesses
- Work with various kinds of welds
- Work in compliance with contract specifications
As earlier mentioned, some cities, states or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those requiring licensing, a number also require certification for various types of work. Certification is also a way to prove to employers that you are an exceptionally skilled and knowledgeable welder. So just as with licensing, look into the requirements for your local area and confirm that the welder vocational school you choose preps you for certification if needed.
Topics to Ask Welder Trade Programs
Once you have chosen the credential you would like to earn, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can start to evaluate schools. As you can imagine, there are many welding trade and vocational schools in the Southside AL area. That's why it's essential to determine in advance what qualifications your selected school must have. We have already discussed a couple of important ones that many people look at first, which are location and tuition cost. As mentioned, although they are essential qualifiers, they are not the only ones that should be considered. After all, the school you choose is going to furnish the instruction that will be the foundation of your new career as a welder. So following are more factors you may want to evaluate before choosing a welder tech school.
Accreditation. It's essential that the welding vocational school you choose is accredited by either a regional or a national organization. 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 has, for instance Welding Technology. So make certain that the program you pick is accredited, not just the school alone. 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). Besides helping ensure that you get a superior education, the accreditation may also assist in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently not available in Southside AL for schools that are not accredited. Finally, for those states or local governments that require licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited also.
Job Assistance and Apprenticeship Programs. Many welding certificate or degree programs are provided in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Other schools will help place you in a job or an apprenticeship upon graduation. Find out if the schools you are considering help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. The schools should have associations with local unions and other metal working businesses to which they can place their students. Older schools may have a more substantial network of graduates that they can utilize for placements. These programs can assist students in finding employment and establish relationships within the Southside AL welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that begin an instructional program and complete it. It's crucial that the welding program you select has a high completion rate. A low rate may signify that the students who joined the program were dissatisfied with the instruction, the teachers, or the facilities, and dropped out. The job placement rate is also a good indicator of the quality of training. A high job placement rate will not only affirm that the school has a good reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of Southside AL employer relationships to assist students obtain apprenticeships or employment upon graduation.
Modern Facilities and Equipment. After you have limited your choice of welder programs to two or three options, you should consider going to the campuses to look over their facilities. Verify that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be taught on are up-to-date. In particular, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be using 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. If not, ask a local Southside AL welding professional if they can give you some suggestions.
School Location. Although we already briefly discussed 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 have the ability to relocate, the welding school you select needs to be within commuting distance of your Southside AL home. If you do decide to attend an out-of-state school, apart from moving costs there might be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly true for welder degree programs offered by community colleges. Also, if the school provides an apprenticeship or job placement program, often their placements are within the school's local community. So the location of the school needs to be in an area or state where you subsequently will desire to work.
Small Classes. One-on-one instruction is important for a manual trade such as welding. It's easy to be overlooked in bigger classes and not receive much personalized instruction. Find out what the average class size is for the welding schools you are looking at. Inquire if you can sit in on a few classes so that you can observe how much personal attention the students are receiving. While there, talk with some of the students and get their opinions. Similarly, talk to a few of the teachers and ask what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they have earned.
Flexible Class Schedules. Many people learn a new profession while still employed at their current job. Confirm that the class schedules for the schools you are reviewing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Southside AL, verify that the schools you are considering offer those choices. If you can only enroll part-time, confirm that the school you decide on offers part-time enrollment. Also, check to see what the protocol is to make up classes should you miss any due to illness, work or family responsibilities.
Choose the Right Southside Welding Course for Certification
Picking the ideal welding training program will probably be the most important decision you will make to begin your new trade. As we have covered in this article, there are many things that you will need to evaluate and compare among the programs you are looking at. It's a must that any welder training that you are evaluating includes a good deal of hands-on instruction. Classes should be small in size and every student should have their personal welding machine to train on. Classroom instruction should provide a real-world perspective, and the curriculum should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Programs differ in duration and the kind of credential offered, so you will have to ascertain what length of program and degree or certificate will best serve your needs. Each training program offers different options for certification also. Perhaps The ideal approach to research your final list of schools is to go to each campus and speak with the students and instructors. Invest some time to attend some classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the school you pick is the right one for you. With the right training, hard work and dedication, the end outcome will be a new career as a professional welder in Southside AL.