How to Select the Best Welding Technical School near Sylacauga Alabama
Enrolling in the right welding vocational school near Sylacauga AL is an important first step to beginning your new career as a professional welder. But since there are numerous schools to choose from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more notably, once you have fine tuned your choices, how do you select the best one? Many prospective students begin by reviewing the schools that are closest to their homes. When they have identified those that are within commuting distance, they are drawn toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and tuition cost are necessary considerations when evaluating welder trade schools, but they are not the only ones. Other concerns include such things as accreditation, reputation and job placement rates. So before initiating your search for a trade school to become a welder, it's prudent to create a list of qualifications that your selected school must have. But before we explore our due diligence checklist, let's talk a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welding Degree and Certificate Training Classes
There are multiple options available to obtain training as a welder in a trade or vocational school. You can obtain a diploma, a certificate or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are available in Welding Engineering or Welding Technology, but are more advanced degrees than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available along with an apprenticeship program. Below are brief summaries of the most typical welding programs offered in the Sylacauga AL area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are usually made available by trade and technical schools and require about one year to complete. They are more hands-on training in nature, fashioned mainly to teach welding skills. They can provide a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or supplemental 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 furnishing the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
Some municipalities and states do have licensing prerequisites for welders, therefore be sure to check for your location of future employment. As required, the welding school you choose should ready you for any licensing examinations that you will have to take in addition to supplying the suitable training to become a professional welder.
Welding Certification Options
There are multiple organizations that provide welding certifications, which test 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 highly regarded organization such as the American Welding Society (AWS). A wide range of certifications are available based upon the type of work that the welder does. A few 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 kinds of welds
- Work in compliance with contract specifications
As already stated, many cities, states or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those requiring licensing, many additionally require certification for various types of work. Certification is also a way to demonstrate 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 vocational school you decide on readies you for certification as needed.
What to Ask Welding Technical Programs
After you have decided on the credential you would like to obtain, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can start to compare schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are a large number of welding trade and vocational schools in the Sylacauga AL area. That's why it's necessary to decide up front what qualifications your chosen school must have. We have previously discussed 2 significant ones that most people consider first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As mentioned, although they are essential qualifications, they are not the only ones that need to be considered. After all, the program you select is going to furnish the instruction that will be the foundation of your new vocation as a welder. So following are some additional factors you may want 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 regional or a national organization. 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 has, for instance Welding Technology. So verify that the program you pick is accredited, not just the school itself. Additionally, 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 make sure that you receive an excellent education, the accreditation might also assist in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently not offered 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.
Job Placement and Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of welding diploma or degree programs are offered combined with an apprenticeship program. Various other schools will help place you in an apprenticeship or a job after graduation. Ask if the schools you are looking at 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 placements. These programs can help students find 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 essential that the welder school you choose has a high completion rate. A low rate might indicate 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 an indication of the caliber of training. A high job placement rate will not only confirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of Sylacauga AL employer relationships to help students secure apprenticeships or employment upon graduation.
Up-to-date Equipment and Facilities. Once you have limited your selection of welder programs to two or three options, you should think out visiting the campuses to look over their facilities. Make sure 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 currently in an apprenticeship program, consult with the master welder you are working under for guidance. If not, ask a local Sylacauga AL welding professional if they can give you some tips.
School Location. Although we already briefly covered the relevance of location, there are a couple of additional points that we need to address. You should keep in mind that unless you have the ability to relocate, the welder school you pick must be within driving distance of your Sylacauga AL home. If you do decide to attend an out-of-state school, apart from moving expenses there might be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially true for welding degree 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 should be in an area or state where you subsequently will desire to work.
Small Classes. Personalized instruction is important for a manual trade such as welding. It's easy to get overlooked in larger classes and not obtain much personalized instruction. Find out what the average class size is for the welding programs you are considering. Ask if you can sit in on a couple of classes so that you can observe how much individual attention the students are getting. While there, speak with some of the students and get their opinions. Similarly, speak with some of the instructors and ask what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they hold.
Flexible Class Scheduling. Lots of folks learn a new profession while still employed at their present job. Confirm that the class schedules for the schools you are looking at are flexible enough to satisfy your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Sylacauga AL, make sure that the schools you are assessing provide those options. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, verify that the school you decide on offers part-time enrollment. Also, check to see what the policy is to make up classes should you miss any because of illness, work or family circumstances.
Find the Right Sylacauga Welding Training for Certification
Selecting the best welding school will undoubtedly be the most important decision you will make to begin your new profession. As we have discussed in this article, there are a number of factors that you will need to examine and compare between the schools you are considering. It's a necessity that any welder training program that you are examining includes a lot of hands-on instruction. Classes should be small in size and each student should have their own welding machine to train on. Classroom instruction needs to offer a real-world context, and the course of study should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Training programs differ in length and the type of credential provided, so you will have to decide what length of program and certificate or degree will best serve your needs. Every program provides different options for certification also. Perhaps the best way to research your short list of schools is to visit each campus and talk with the faculty and students. Invest some time to monitor some classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the school you choose is the ideal one for you. With the right training, effort and commitment, the end outcome will be a new occupation as a professional welder in Sylacauga AL.