How to Choose the Best Welding Trade School near Sylacauga Alabama
Locating the right welding trade school near Sylacauga AL is an essential first step to starting your new occupation 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 select the best one? Many people begin by looking at the schools that are closest to their homes. Once they have located those that are within driving distance, they are drawn toward the least expensive one. Yes, location and tuition cost are important concerns when reviewing welder trade schools, but they are not the only ones. Other considerations 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 create a list of qualifications that your selected school must have. But before we examine our due diligence checklist, let's talk a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welding Degree and Certificate Training
There are multiple options to obtain training as a welder in a trade or technical school. You can receive a a certificate, a diploma or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are available in Welding Engineering or Welding Technology, 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 descriptions 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 a year to complete. They are more hands-on training in nature, fashioned primarily 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 two years to finish 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 providing the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
Many municipalities and states do have licensing prerequisites for welders, therefore make sure to find out for your location of future employment. If needed, the welding school you select should prep you for any licensing exams that you will have to pass in addition to providing the appropriate training to become a professional welder.
Welder Certification Options
There are multiple organizations that provide welding certifications, which test the knowledge and skill level of those applying. Many Sylacauga AL employers not only expect a certificate or degree from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a renowned agency such as the American Welding Society (AWS). A variety of certifications are available based upon the kind of work that the welder performs. Just some of the skills that certification can attest to are the welder's ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specified metal thicknesses
- Work with specific kinds of welds
- Work in compliance with contract specifications
As previously mentioned, some cities, states or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those mandating licensing, many also require certification for various types of work. Certification is also a way to prove to employers that you are an extremely skilled and qualified welder. So similarly as with licensing, look into the requirements for your local area and make sure that the welder tech school you choose preps you for certification as needed.
Subjects to Ask Welding Tech Schools
After you have decided on the credential you would like to attain, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can start to compare schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are a large number of welder vocational and trade schools in the Sylacauga AL area. That's why it's necessary to determine up front what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have previously discussed two significant ones that most people consider first, which are location and tuition cost. As stated, although they are very important qualifications, they are not the only ones that should be considered. After all, the school you decide on is going to furnish the instruction that will be the foundation of your new career as a welder. So below are some additional factors you might need to consider before selecting a welder technical school.
Accreditation. It's very important that the welding trade school you choose is accredited by either a national or a regional organization. There are two standard types of accreditation. The school may earn Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on an individual program the school has, for instance Welding Technology. So verify that the program you select is accredited, not just the school itself. Also, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, like the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping ensure that you get an excellent education, the accreditation might also help in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable in Sylacauga AL for schools that are not accredited. Finally, for those states or municipalities that require licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited as well.
Job Placement and Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of welder degree or certificate programs are offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Some other schools will assist in placing you in an apprenticeship or a job upon graduation. Ask if the schools you are considering help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. These 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 utilize 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 portion or percentage of students that enroll in an educational program and finish it. It's important that the welding school you choose has a higher completion rate. A lower rate might indicate that the students who joined the program were unhappy with the instruction, the teachers, or the facilities, and quit. The job placement rate is also an indication of the caliber of training. A higher job placement rate will not only verify that the program has a good reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of Sylacauga AL contacts to help students obtain employment or apprenticeships upon graduation.
Modern Equipment and Facilities. Once you have limited your choice of welder programs to two or three options, you should think out visiting the campuses to look over their facilities. Confirm that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are modern. In particular, the training equipment should be comparable 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 Sylacauga AL welding professional if they can give you a few tips.
School Location. Although we previously briefly talked about the significance of location, there are a few additional issues that we need to address. You should keep in mind that unless you can move, the welding program you choose needs to be within driving distance of your Sylacauga AL home. If you do decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there may be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially the case for welding diploma 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 an area or state where you ultimately will want to work.
Smaller Classes. Personalized training is essential for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's easy to be overlooked in bigger classes and not obtain much one-on-one training. Ask what the typical class size is for the welder schools you are considering. Ask if you can attend a few classes so that you can observe how much personal attention the students are getting. While there, speak with a few of the students and get their opinions. Also, talk to a few of the teachers and find out what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they hold.
Flexible Class Schedules. Lots of folks learn a new profession while still employed at their present job. Check to see that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are convenient enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Sylacauga AL, confirm that the schools you are reviewing provide those alternatives. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, verify that the school you pick offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the protocol is to make up classes if you you miss any due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Sylacauga Welding Training for Certification
Picking the ideal welding training program will probably be the most critical decision you will make to begin your new profession. As we have covered in this article, there are several factors that you will need to evaluate and compare between the schools you are looking at. It's a must that any welder training that you are assessing includes a considerable amount of hands-on training. Classes need to be small in size and every student should have their personal welding machine to train on. Classroom instruction should offer a real-world frame of reference, and the training program should be current and conform with industry standards. Training programs vary in length and the kind of credential provided, so you will have to decide what length of program and degree or certificate will best satisfy your needs. Each program offers unique possibilities for certification as well. Probably The ideal approach to research your final list of schools is to visit each campus and speak with the faculty and students. Take the time to sit in on some classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the program you pick is the right one for you. With the right training, effort and commitment, the end result will be a new trade as a professional welder in Sylacauga AL.