How to Find the Best Welder Training Classes near Sylacauga Alabama
Enrolling in the ideal welding trade school near Sylacauga AL is an essential first step to beginning your new career as a professional welder. But since there are a lot of schools to pick from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more notably, once you have narrowed down your choices, how do you pick the best one? Most prospective students begin by checking out the schools that are closest to their homes. Once they have found those that are within commuting distance, they are drawn toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are important considerations when evaluating welder trade schools, but they are not the only ones. Other concerns include such things as reputation, accreditation and job placement rates. So before starting your search for a trade school to become a welder, it's sensible 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.
Welder Degree and Certificate Programs
There are several options available to receive training as a welder in a trade or technical 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 combined with an apprenticeship program. Below are short explanations of the most prevalent welding programs offered in the Sylacauga AL area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are usually made available by technical and trade schools and require about one year to finish. They are more hands-on training in nature, created primarily to develop welding skills. They can provide 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 offers a more extensive education than the diploma or certificate while still supplying the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
Some states and municipalities do have licensing prerequisites for welders, so don't forget to check for your location of future employment. If needed, the welder school you choose should prepare you for any licensing exams that you will need to pass in addition to providing the appropriate training to become a qualified welder.
Welding Certification Options
There are a number of institutions that provide welder certifications, which assess the skill level and knowledge of those applying. A large number of Sylacauga AL employers not only require a degree or certificate from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a renowned agency such as the American Welding Society (AWS). A wide range of certifications are available based on the kind 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 certain types of welds
- Perform according to contract specifications
As earlier stated, various states, cities or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those requiring licensing, many also require certification for different types of work. Certification is also a way to prove to employers that you are an exceptionally skilled and experienced welder. So similarly as with licensing, check the requirements for your local area and make certain that the welding technical school you decide on preps you for certification if needed.
Points to Ask Welding Tech Schools
As soon as you have decided on the credential you would like to attain, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can start to compare schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are many welding trade and technical schools in the Sylacauga AL area. That's why it's essential to establish up front what qualifications your chosen school must have. We have already covered a couple of important ones that most people look at first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As stated, although they are very important qualifiers, they are not the only ones that must be considered. After all, the program you pick is going to furnish the education that will be the foundation of your new vocation as a welder. So below are more factors you might need to consider before picking a welding trade school.
Accreditation. It's extremely important that the welder tech school you pick is accredited by either a national or a regional agency. 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 offers, such as Welding Technology. So make certain that the program you pick is accredited, not just the school itself. Also, 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). In addition to helping ensure that you get a quality education, the accreditation can also assist in getting financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable in Sylacauga AL for schools that are not accredited. Also, for those states or local governments that mandate licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited also.
Apprenticeship and Job Assistance Programs. Numerous welder degree or certificate programs are offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Other schools will help place you in an apprenticeship or a job upon graduation. Find out if the schools you are looking at assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. These schools must have relationships with local unions and other metal working businesses to which they can place their students. Older schools may have a larger network of graduates that they can utilize for placements. These programs can assist students in finding employment and establish associations within the Sylacauga AL welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that enroll in an instructional program and finish it. It's important that the welding school you pick has a higher completion rate. A reduced rate could signify that the students who enrolled in the program were dissatisfied with the instruction, the teachers, 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 industry, but also that it has the network of Sylacauga AL contacts to assist students secure apprenticeships or employment after graduation.
Modern 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 evaluate 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 comparable to what you will be using in the field. If you are unsure what to look for, and are currently in an apprenticeship program, ask the master welder you are working under for guidance. If not, ask a local Sylacauga AL welding contractor if they can give you a few suggestions.
School Location. Even though we previously briefly talked about the importance of location, there are a few additional points that we need to cover. You should bear in mind that unless you have the ability to relocate, the welder school you choose needs to be within driving distance of your Sylacauga AL home. If you do choose to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides relocation 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 offers an apprenticeship or job placement program, more than likely their placements are within the school's regional community. So the location of the school should be in a region or state where you ultimately will want to work.
Smaller Classes. Personalized instruction is essential for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's possible to be overlooked in larger classes and not get much individualized instruction. Find out what the average class size is for the welding schools you are considering. Inquire if you can sit in on a couple of classes so that you can see just how much individual attention the students are getting. While there, speak with a few of the students and get their evaluations. Also, talk to some of the instructors and find out what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they have earned.
Convenient Class Schedules. Many people learn a new trade while still employed at their current job. Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are considering are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Sylacauga AL, confirm that the schools you are assessing offer those alternatives. If you can only attend part-time, confirm that the school you decide on offers part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the policy is to make up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family responsibilities.
Choose the Right Sylacauga Welding School for Certification
Choosing the right welding training program will undoubtedly be the most important decision you will make to start your new trade. As we have discussed in this article, there are several factors that you will need to assess and compare among the programs you are looking at. It's a necessity that any welding training that you are assessing includes a considerable amount of hands-on training. Classes need to be small in size and every student must have their own welding machine to train on. Classroom education needs to provide a real-world frame of reference, and the curriculum should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Programs vary in length and the kind of credential provided, so you will need to determine what length of program and credential will best fulfill your needs. Every program provides unique possibilities for certification also. Probably the best approach to research your final list of schools is to go to each campus and talk with the students and instructors. Invest some time to sit in on a few classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the program you decide on is the best one for you. With the proper training, effort and commitment, the end result will be a new occupation as a professional welder in Sylacauga AL.