How to Find the Right Welder Vocational School near Southside Alabama
Enrolling in the ideal welding trade school near Southside AL is an important first step to beginning 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 notably, once you have fine tuned your options, how do you pick the best one? Most people begin by looking at the schools that are nearest to their homes. Once they have found those that are within commuting distance, they gravitate toward the least costly one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are crucial considerations when reviewing welder vocational 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 vocational school to become a welder, it's wise to establish a list of qualifications that your chosen school must have. But before we delve into our due diligence checklist, let's cover a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welder Certificate and Degree Training
There are several options available to get training as a welder in a trade or vocational school. You can receive a diploma, a certificate or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are offered in Welding Technology or Welding Engineering, but are more advanced programs than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Below are brief explanations of the most prevalent welding programs available in the Southside AL area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are normally made available by trade and technical schools and require about one year to complete. They are more hands-on training in scope, fashioned largely to teach 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 2 years to finish and are most often offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology provides a more extensive education than the certificate or diploma while still providing the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
Many states and municipalities do have licensing prerequisites for welders, therefore be sure to find out for your location of potential employment. As required, the welding school you select should ready you for any licensing examinations that you will have to take in addition to supplying the appropriate training to become a professional welder.
Welder Certification Choices
There are various organizations that offer welding certifications, which evaluate the knowledge and skill level of those applying. Many Southside AL employers not only demand a degree or certificate from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a respected organization like the American Welding Society (AWS). Different certifications are available based on the kind of work that the welder performs. Some of the things that certification can acknowledge are the welder's ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specified metal thicknesses
- Work with certain types of welds
- Operate in compliance with contract specifications
As earlier stated, various states, cities or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those calling for licensing, some also require certification for various kinds of work. Certification is also a means to demonstrate to employers that you are an extremely skilled and experienced welder. So just as with licensing, check the requirements for your local area and verify that the welding vocational school you choose prepares you for certification if needed.
Topics to Ask Welding Tech Schools
As soon as you have chosen the credential you would like to earn, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can begin to assess schools. As you can imagine, there are many welding trade and technical schools in the Southside AL area. That's why it's necessary to determine up front what qualifications your selected school must have. We have already covered 2 significant ones that many people consider first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As stated, although they are essential qualifiers, they are not the only ones that must be considered. After all, the school you select is going to provide the education that will be the foundation of your new vocation as a welder. So below are some additional factors you might need to consider before selecting a welding technical school.
Accreditation. It's essential that the welder trade school you select is accredited by either a national or a regional organization. There are 2 basic kinds of accreditation. The school may attain 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 choose is accredited, not just the school itself. Also, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, like the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). In addition to helping make sure that you receive a quality education, the accreditation might also assist in getting financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently not offered in Southside AL for schools that are not accredited. Finally, for those states or local governments that mandate licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited as well.
Apprenticeship and Job Placement Programs. Many welder degree or certificate programs are provided in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Various other schools will assist in placing you in a job or an apprenticeship after graduation. Ask if the schools you are reviewing help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. The schools should have associations with local unions and various metal working businesses to which they can refer their students. Older schools may have a more substantial network of graduates that they can rely upon for referrals. These programs can help students find employment and develop relationships within the Southside AL welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that start an instructional program and finish it. It's crucial that the welder school you choose has a high completion rate. A reduced rate could mean that the students who enrolled in the program were dissatisfied 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 confirm that the program has an excellent reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of Southside AL contacts to help students secure employment or apprenticeships upon graduation.
Up-to-date Facilities and Equipment. After you have narrowed down your choice of welding schools to 2 or 3 options, you should think out going to the campuses to inspect their facilities. Confirm that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be trained on are up-to-date. Specifically, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be using 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. If not, ask a local Southside AL welding contractor if they can give you some pointers.
School Location. Although we already briefly talked about the significance of location, there are a couple of additional points that we should address. You should bear in mind that unless you can relocate, the welding program you select needs to be within commuting distance of your Southside AL home. If you do decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there may be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly true for welding diploma programs offered by community colleges. Additionally, if the school offers a job placement or apprenticeship program, more than likely their placements are within the school's local community. So the location of the school needs to be in a region or state where you ultimately will want to work.
Small Classes. One-on-one instruction is important for a manual trade such as welding. It's possible to be lost in bigger classes and not get much personalized training. Ask what the typical class size is for the welding schools you are considering. Inquire 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 some of the students and get their opinions. Similarly, talk to some of the trainers and find out what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they have earned.
Convenient Class Scheduling. Lots of folks learn a new profession while still working at their current job. Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are considering are convenient enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Southside AL, make sure that the schools you are reviewing provide those options. If you can only attend part-time, make certain that the school you pick offers part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the protocol is to make up classes should you miss any due to illness, work or family circumstances.
Find the Right Southside Welding Course for Certification
Choosing the ideal welder school will undoubtedly be the most important decision you will make to start your new career. As we have discussed in this article, there are a number of factors that you will need to examine and compare among the programs you are looking at. It's a prerequisite that any welding training program that you are considering includes a considerable amount 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 training program should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Training programs differ in duration and the kind of credential provided, so you will have to ascertain what length of program and degree or certificate will best fulfill your needs. Every program offers different possibilities for certification also. Probably The ideal means to research your short list of schools is to go to each campus and speak with the faculty and students. Take the time to monitor some classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the school you choose is the right one for you. With the right training, hard work and dedication, the end outcome will be a new occupation as a professional welder in Southside AL.