How to Select the Best Welder Trade School near Spanish Fort Alabama
Selecting the ideal welding technical school near Spanish Fort AL is an important first step to beginning your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are so many schools to pick from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more significantly, once you have narrowed down your alternatives, how do you select the best one? Most prospective students start by checking out the schools that are nearest to their residences. When they have located those that are within commuting distance, they are drawn toward the least expensive one. Yes, location and tuition cost are important issues when evaluating welder trade schools, but they are not the only ones. Other factors include such things as reputation, accreditation and job placement rates. So before beginning your search for a vocational school to become a welder, it's sensible to develop a list of qualifications that your chosen school must have. But before we explore our due diligence checklist, let's cover a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welding Degree and Certificate Training Courses
There are a number of alternatives available to receive training as a welder in a trade or vocational 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 courses than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also offered along with an apprenticeship program. Following are short descriptions of the most prevalent welding programs available in the Spanish Fort AL area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are generally offered by trade and technical schools and require about one year to complete. They are more hands-on training in scope, fashioned largely to develop 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 complete and are usually offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology offers a more well-rounded education than the certificate or diploma while still providing the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
A number of states and municipalities do have licensing requirements for welders, so be sure to find out for your location of future employment. If needed, the welder school you select should ready you for any licensing examinations that you will have to take in addition to providing the proper training to become a professional welder.
Welding Certification Choices
There are various institutions that provide welder certifications, which assess the knowledge and skill level of those applying. Many Spanish Fort AL employers not only demand a degree or certificate from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a respected agency like the American Welding Society (AWS). Different certifications are available dependent on the kind 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 certain kinds of welds
- Work according to contract specifications
As previously stated, various cities, states or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those mandating licensing, many also require certification for different types of work. Certification is also a means to demonstrate to employers that you are an extremely skilled and qualified welder. So just as with licensing, look into the requirements for your local area and confirm that the welder vocational school you select prepares you for certification if needed.
Subjects to Ask Welder Trade Schools
As soon as you have chosen the credential you want to obtain, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can start to evaluate schools. As you probably know, there are numerous welding trade and vocational schools in the Spanish Fort AL area. That's why it's necessary to establish in advance what qualifications your selected school must have. We have previously discussed two important ones that many people look at first, which are location and tuition cost. As mentioned, although they are very important qualifiers, they are not the only ones that must be looked at. After all, the program you decide on is going to furnish the education that will be the foundation of your new career as a welder. So following are some additional factors you may need to consider before choosing a welding vocational school.
Accreditation. It's extremely important that the welding technical school you decide on is accredited by either a national or a regional organization. There are two basic types of accreditation. The school may earn Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a single program the school has, such as Welding Technology. So make certain that the program you select is accredited, not just the school itself. Also, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, such as the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping ensure that you receive an excellent education, the accreditation can also help in securing financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not offered in Spanish Fort AL for non-accredited schools. Finally, for those states or local governments that require licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited also.
Apprenticeship and Job Assistance Programs. A large number of welding diploma or degree programs are offered combined with an apprenticeship program. Other schools will help place you in a job or an apprenticeship after graduation. Find out if the schools you are considering assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. These schools should have partnerships 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 placements. These programs can assist students in finding employment and develop associations within the Spanish Fort AL welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that start an instructional program and finish it. It's essential that the welder school you select has a higher completion rate. A low rate may mean 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 an indication of the caliber of training. A high job placement rate will not only verify that the program has an excellent reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of Spanish Fort AL contacts to assist students obtain employment or apprenticeships after graduation.
Modern Facilities and Equipment. After you have decreased 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 taught on are up-to-date. In particular, 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 Spanish Fort AL welding professional if they can give you some suggestions.
School Location. Although we previously briefly covered the relevance of location, there are a few additional issues that we should address. You should bear in mind that unless you are able to relocate, the welding program you select needs to be within driving distance of your Spanish Fort 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 true for welder degree programs offered by community colleges. Additionally, if the school provides a job placement or apprenticeship program, often their placements are within the school's local community. So the location of the school should be in a region or state where you subsequently will wish to work.
Small Classes. Personalized training is essential for a manual trade such as welding. It's possible to be overlooked in larger classes and not obtain much personalized training. Find out what the average class size is for the welding programs you are looking at. Ask if you can sit in on some classes so that you can experience how much individual attention the students are getting. While there, talk with several of the students and get their opinions. Similarly, chat with a couple of the teachers and ask what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they have earned.
Flexible Class Schedules. Some people learn a new profession while still working at their current job. Check to see that the class schedules for the schools you are reviewing are convenient enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Spanish Fort AL, make sure that the schools you are considering offer those options. If you can only attend part-time, verify that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the policy is to make up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Spanish Fort Welding Course for Certification
Choosing the best welder training program will probably be the most critical decision you will make to start your new trade. As we have covered in this article, there are a number of factors that you will need to assess and compare among the schools you are reviewing. It's a must that any welding training program that you are assessing includes a lot of hands-on training. Classes need to be small in size and every student should have their own welding machine to train with. Classroom education needs to provide a real-world perspective, and the curriculum should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Courses differ in duration and the kind of credential provided, so you will have to ascertain what length of program and credential will best satisfy your needs. Every program offers unique options for certification as well. Probably the best means to research your final list of schools is to go to each campus and talk with the students and instructors. Take the time to sit in on a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the training program you choose is the right one for you. With the proper training, effort and dedication, the end outcome will be a new occupation as a professional welder in Spanish Fort AL.