How to Enroll In the Right Welder Certification Course near Southside Alabama
Locating the ideal welder trade 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 choose from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more notably, once you have narrowed down your choices, how do you select the right one? Most prospective students start by reviewing the schools that are nearest to their homes. Once they have located those that are within commuting distance, they gravitate toward the least costly one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are crucial considerations when evaluating welding vocational schools, but they are not the only ones. Other factors include such things as reputation, accreditation and job placement rates. So before starting your search for a vocational school to become a welder, it's sensible to create a list of qualifications that your chosen school must have. But before we delve into our due diligence checklist, let's talk a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welder Degree and Certificate Training Classes
There are several alternatives available to obtain training as a welder in a technical or trade school. You can receive a a certificate, a diploma or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are available in Welding Engineering or Welding Technology, but are more advanced courses than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also offered combined with an apprenticeship program. Following are short descriptions of the most typical welding programs available in the Southside AL area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are generally offered by trade and technical schools and require about 1 year to finish. They are more hands-on training in scope, designed primarily to develop welding skills. They can provide a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or supplemental skills for experienced welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take 2 years to complete and are usually offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology offers a more extensive education than the certificate or diploma while still furnishing the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
Many states and municipalities do have licensing requirements for welders, therefore make sure to find out for your location of potential employment. If required, the welding school you pick should prepare you for any licensing examinations that you will have to take in addition to supplying the suitable training to become a qualified welder.
Welding Certification Options
There are multiple organizations that offer welder certifications, which evaluate the knowledge and skill level of those applying. Numerous Southside AL employers not only expect a certificate or degree from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a respected agency such as the American Welding Society (AWS). A wide range of 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
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specific metal thicknesses
- Work with specific types of welds
- Operate according to contract specifications
As already stated, various states, cities or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those calling for licensing, many additionally 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, check the requirements for your local area and make sure that the welding technical school you select preps you for certification if needed.
Subjects to Ask Welding Vocational Programs
When you have decided on the credential you would like to earn, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can start to compare schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are a large number of welding trade and technical schools in the Southside AL area. That's why it's essential to determine in advance what qualifications your chosen school must have. We have previously discussed a couple of significant ones that many people look at first, which are location and tuition cost. As mentioned, although they are very important qualifications, they are not the only ones that need to be looked at. After all, the program you choose is going to furnish the training that will be the foundation of your new profession as a welder. So below are more factors you may want to evaluate before picking a welder trade school.
Accreditation. It's very important that the welding vocational school you pick is accredited by either a regional or a national agency. There are two standard 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 select is accredited, not just the school itself. Also, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, such as the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping make sure that you get a superior education, the accreditation might also help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are often unavailable in Southside AL for non-accredited schools. Also, for those states or local governments that mandate licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited as well.
Apprenticeship and Job Assistance Programs. Many welder degree or certificate programs are offered combined with an apprenticeship program. Some 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 placement program. These schools should have partnerships with local unions and various metal working businesses to which they can place their students. Older schools may have a more substantial network of graduates that they can rely upon for referrals. These programs can assist students in finding employment and establish associations within the Southside AL welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that begin an instructional program and finish it. It's important that the welding program you pick has a high completion rate. A low rate could mean that the students who joined the program were unhappy with the instruction, the instructors, or the facilities, and dropped out. The job placement rate is also an indication of the quality of training. A higher job placement rate will not only confirm that the program has an excellent reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of Southside AL contacts to help students obtain apprenticeships or employment after graduation.
Up-to-date Facilities and Equipment. Once you have limited your choice of welding schools to two or three possibilities, you should think out going to the campuses to evaluate their facilities. Verify 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 unsure 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 Southside AL welding professional if they can give you a few pointers.
School Location. Even though we previously briefly talked about the significance of location, there are a couple of additional points that we should deal with. You should bear in mind that unless you have the ability to relocate, the welder program you choose must be within commuting distance of your Southside AL home. If you do choose to attend an out-of-state school, apart from moving costs there may be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly the case for welder diploma programs offered by community colleges. Furthermore, if the school provides an apprenticeship or job placement program, often their placements are within the school's regional community. So the location of the school needs to be in an area or state where you ultimately will desire to work.
Small Classes. Personalized instruction is important for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's easy to be overlooked in bigger classes and not get much one-on-one instruction. Ask what the typical class size is for the welding schools you are reviewing. Ask if you can attend a few classes so that you can see how much personal attention the students are receiving. While there, speak with several of the students and get their opinions. Similarly, chat with some of the instructors and find out what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they have earned.
Flexible Class Schedules. Many people learn a new profession while still working at their present job. Check to see that the class schedules for the schools you are considering are convenient enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Southside AL, confirm that the schools you are assessing provide those alternatives. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, make sure 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 because of work, sickness or family responsibilities.
Choose the Right Southside Welding Program for Certification
Selecting the best welder training program will undoubtedly be the most important decision you will make to begin your new trade. As we have discussed in this article, there are a number of things that you will need to examine and compare between the programs you are reviewing. It's a prerequisite that any welder training program that you are considering includes a good deal of hands-on instruction. Classes should be small in size and each student must have their own welding machine to train on. Classroom education needs to offer a real-world perspective, and the curriculum should be current and in-line with industry standards. Training programs vary in length and the type of credential offered, so you will have to ascertain what length of program and credential will best satisfy your needs. Each program provides unique options for certification as well. Perhaps the best approach to research your final list of schools is to go to each campus and speak with the teachers and students. Take the time to monitor some classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the training program you decide on is the ideal one for you. With the proper training, effort and dedication, the final result will be a new career as a professional welder in Southside AL.