How to Choose the Best Welding Certification Classes near Sylacauga Alabama
Choosing the ideal welder vocational school near Sylacauga AL is an important first step to starting your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are so many schools to select from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more importantly, once you have narrowed down your alternatives, how do you select the right one? A number of people begin by reviewing the schools that are nearest to their homes. Once they have found those that are within driving distance, they gravitate toward the least costly one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are important issues when examining welder trade schools, but they are not the only ones. Other concerns include such things as accreditation, reputation and job placement rates. So before beginning your search for a trade school to become a welder, it's sensible to develop a list of qualifications that your selected 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 Programs
There are a number of options available to get 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 offered 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 brief summaries of the most typical welding programs offered in the Sylacauga AL area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are generally offered by trade and technical schools and take about one year to complete. They are more hands-on training in nature, designed primarily to teach welding skills. They can provide a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or additional skills for experienced welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take two years to complete and are usually offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology provides a more extensive education than the certificate or diploma while still furnishing the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
Many municipalities and states do have licensing prerequisites for welders, therefore don't forget to find out for your location of future employment. As required, the welder school you choose should prepare you for any licensing examinations that you will need to take in addition to furnishing the appropriate training to become a professional welder.
Welder Certification Choices
There are several institutions that provide welding certifications, which assess the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Many Sylacauga AL employers not only require a certificate or degree from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a renowned agency like the American Welding Society (AWS). Different certifications are available based on the type of work that the welder does. A few of the skills 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
- Perform in compliance with contract specifications
As already mentioned, various cities, states or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those requiring licensing, some also require certification for different kinds of work. Certification is also a way to demonstrate to employers that you are a highly skilled and qualified welder. So just as with licensing, check the requirements for your local area and make sure that the welding vocational school you select prepares you for certification if needed.
Points to Ask Welder Vocational Schools
When you have decided on the credential you want to obtain, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can start to assess schools. As you can imagine, there are a large number of welder trade and technical schools in the Sylacauga AL area. That's why it's necessary to establish in advance what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have already covered two 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 vocation as a welder. So following are more factors you might need to evaluate before picking a welder vocational school.
Accreditation. It's essential that the welder technical school you select is accredited by either a national or a regional agency. There are two standard types of accreditation. The school may receive 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 choose is accredited, not just the school alone. Also, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, such as the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). In addition to helping ensure that you get an excellent education, the accreditation may also help in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are often unavailable in Sylacauga AL for schools that are not accredited. Finally, for those states or municipalities that mandate licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited as well.
Apprenticeship and Job Placement Programs. Many welding certificate or degree programs are provided combined with an apprenticeship program. Various other schools will assist in placing you in an apprenticeship or a job after graduation. Find out if the schools you are reviewing help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. The schools must have associations 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 referrals. These programs can assist students in finding employment and establish relationships within the Sylacauga AL welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that start an educational program and complete it. It's essential that the welding program you select has a higher completion rate. A lower rate might signify that the students who joined the program were dissatisfied with the training, the teachers, or the facilities, and quit. The job placement rate is also an indication of the quality 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 Sylacauga AL employer relationships to assist students obtain employment or apprenticeships upon graduation.
Up-to-date Equipment and Facilities. After you have limited your selection of welding schools to two or three possibilities, you should consider going to the campuses to evaluate their facilities. Confirm that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be taught on are up-to-date. Specifically, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be using on the job. If you are uncertain what to look for, and are already in an apprenticeship program, ask the master welder you are working under for guidance. Otherwise, ask a local Sylacauga AL welding contractor if they can give you a few tips.
School Location. Even though we previously briefly discussed the importance of location, there are a couple of additional issues that we should cover. You should remember that unless you are able to move, the welder program you pick needs to be within driving distance of your Sylacauga AL home. If you do decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides moving expenses 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 an apprenticeship or job placement program, more than likely 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 ultimately will want to work.
Small Classes. Individualized training is essential for a manual trade such as welding. It's easy to get overlooked in bigger classes and not obtain much one-on-one training. Ask what the average class size is for the welding programs you are reviewing. Inquire if you can sit in on a couple of classes so that you can experience how much individual attention the students are receiving. While there, speak with several of the students and get their opinions. Also, talk to a couple of the instructors and ask what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they have earned.
Flexible Class Scheduling. Many people learn a new trade while still working at their present job. Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Sylacauga AL, make certain that the schools you are assessing offer those choices. If you can only enroll part-time, make certain that the school you choose offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the protocol is to make up classes if you you miss any due to work, sickness or family circumstances.
Choose the Best Sylacauga Welding School for Certification
Choosing the best welder training program will probably be the most important decision you will make to begin your new trade. As we have discussed in this article, there are several things that you will need to examine and compare among the schools you are reviewing. It's a necessity that any welder school that you are considering includes a considerable amount of hands-on training. Classes need to be small in size and each student must have their own welding machine to train with. Classroom instruction needs to provide a real-world context, and the course of study should be current and in-line with industry standards. Training programs differ in duration and the type of credential provided, so you will need to determine what length of program and credential will best fulfill your needs. Every training program offers different options for certification also. Perhaps the best way to research your final list of schools is to visit each campus and speak with the teachers and students. Invest some time to monitor some classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the school you choose is the right one for you. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, the end outcome will be a new occupation as a professional welder in Sylacauga AL.