How to Choose the Best Welder Technical School near Talladega Alabama
Selecting the right welder vocational school near Talladega AL is an important first step to launching your new career as a professional welder. But since there are so many schools to select from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more importantly, once you have fine tuned your alternatives, how do you pick the best one? A number of prospective students start by checking out 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 the cost of tuition are necessary issues when reviewing 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 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 talk a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welding Degree and Certificate Training Courses
There are a number of options available to get training as a welder in a trade or vocational school. You can receive a diploma, a certificate or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are offered in Welding Technology or Welding Engineering, but are more advanced degrees than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available combined with an apprenticeship program. Following are short explanations of the most prevalent welding programs offered in the Talladega AL area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are usually offered by technical and trade schools and take about one year to complete. They are more hands-on training in scope, fashioned mainly to teach welding skills. They can furnish a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or supplemental skills for experienced welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take two years to complete and are most often offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology furnishes a more well-rounded education than the certificate or diploma while still providing the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
Some states and municipalities do have licensing requirements for welders, therefore don't forget to find out for your location of future employment. As required, the welding school you pick should prep you for any licensing examinations that you will need to pass in addition to furnishing the appropriate training to become a qualified welder.
Welding Certification Options
There are various institutions that provide welder certifications, which evaluate the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Many Talladega AL employers not only require a certificate or degree from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a renowned organization like the American Welding Society (AWS). A variety of certifications are available based on the type of work that the welder does. A few of the things that certification can acknowledge are the welder's ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with certain metal thicknesses
- Work with various types of welds
- Work according to contract specifications
As already stated, many states, cities or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those requiring licensing, a number also require certification for different types of work. Certification is also a way to demonstrate to employers that you are an extremely skilled and qualified welder. So similarly as with licensing, check the requirements for your local area and confirm that the welding vocational school you decide on preps you for certification as needed.
Points to Ask Welder Vocational Programs
After you have chosen the credential you would like to attain, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can start to assess schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are numerous welding vocational and trade schools in the Talladega AL area. That's why it's essential to determine up front what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have already covered two important ones that most people look at first, which are location and tuition cost. As mentioned, although they are essential qualifications, they are not the only ones that need to be considered. 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 more factors you might want to consider before selecting a welder trade school.
Accreditation. It's extremely important that the welder vocational school you select is accredited by either a national or a regional organization. There are two basic types of accreditation. The school may attain 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 choose is accredited, not just the school alone. Also, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, for example the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping make sure that you receive a superior education, the accreditation can also help in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not offered in Talladega AL for schools that are not accredited. Also, for those states or local governments that require licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited also.
Job Assistance and Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of welder certificate or degree programs are offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Various other schools will help place you in an apprenticeship or a job after graduation. Find out if the schools you are looking at help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. The schools must have partnerships with local unions and various metal working businesses to which they can place their students. More established schools may have a more substantial network of graduates that they can rely upon for referrals. These programs can help students find employment and establish associations within the Talladega AL welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that begin an academic program and complete it. It's essential that the welding program you pick has a higher completion rate. A lower rate may indicate that the students who were in the program were dissatisfied with the training, the instructors, or the facilities, and quit. The job placement rate is also a good indicator of the quality of training. A higher job placement rate will not only verify that the school has a good reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of Talladega AL contacts to help students obtain employment or apprenticeships upon graduation.
Modern Facilities and Equipment. Once you have narrowed down your choice of welder programs to two or three possibilities, you should consider going to the campuses to look over their facilities. Make sure that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be taught on are modern. In particular, the training equipment should be comparable to what you will be working with on the job. 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 Talladega AL welding professional if they can give you a few tips.
School Location. Although we previously briefly covered the relevance of location, there are a few additional points that we should cover. You should bear in mind that unless you are able to relocate, the welder program you choose needs to be within driving distance of your Talladega AL home. If you do choose to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there could be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially true for welder certificate programs offered by community colleges. Also, if the school offers an apprenticeship or job placement program, often their placements are within the school's local community. So the location of the school needs to be in a region or state where you subsequently will desire to work.
Small Classes. Individualized training is essential for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's possible to get overlooked in larger classes and not receive much individualized instruction. Ask what the average class size is for the welding schools you are looking at. Ask if you can sit in on a few classes so that you can experience just how much personal attention the students are receiving. While there, speak with several of the students and get their evaluations. Also, talk with a few of the teachers and find out what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they have earned.
Flexible Class Scheduling. Some people learn a new profession while still employed at their present job. Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are considering are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Talladega AL, make sure that the schools you are assessing provide those choices. If you can only attend part-time, confirm that the school you choose offers part-time enrollment. Also, check to see what the protocol is to make up classes should you miss any because of illness, work or family circumstances.
Find the Right Talladega Welding Program for Certification
Choosing the right welding school will undoubtedly be the most critical decision you will make to launch your new trade. As we have addressed in this article, there are several things that you will need to assess and compare among the schools you are looking at. It's a must that any welder school that you are evaluating includes a good deal of hands-on instruction. Classes should be smaller in size and each student must have their personal welding machine to train on. Classroom education needs to provide a real-world frame of reference, and the training program should be current and conform with industry standards. Courses differ in length and the type of credential offered, so you will have to decide what length of program and degree or certificate will best fulfill your needs. Every training program provides unique options for certification also. Probably the best way to research your final list of schools is to visit each campus and talk with the students and faculty. 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 choose is the ideal one for you. With the proper training, effort and commitment, the end result will be a new trade as a professional welder in Talladega AL.