How to Choose the Right Welding Trade School near Talladega Alabama
Selecting the ideal welding technical school near Talladega AL is an important first step to beginning your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are so many schools to select from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more notably, once you have narrowed down your options, how do you select the best one? Many people begin by checking out the schools that are closest to their homes. When they have located those that are within driving distance, they are drawn toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are crucial concerns when examining welding vocational schools, but they are not the only ones. Other concerns include such things as accreditation, reputation and job placement rates. So before starting your search for a trade school to become a welder, it's sensible to create a list of qualifications that your chosen school must have. But before we delve into our due diligence checklist, let's cover a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welding Certificate and Degree Training Classes
There are several alternatives available to receive training as a welder in a trade or vocational school. You can earn a a certificate, a diploma or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are available 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. Below are short descriptions of the most prevalent welding programs available in the Talladega AL area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are usually made available by trade and technical schools and take about 1 year to finish. They are more hands-on training in nature, designed 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 finish and are most often offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology offers a more well-rounded education than the diploma or certificate while still supplying the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
A number of municipalities and states do have licensing requirements for welders, so make sure to check for your location of potential employment. As required, the welder school you select should ready you for any licensing exams that you will have to pass in addition to furnishing the appropriate training to become a professional welder.
Welder Certification Alternatives
There are multiple institutions that offer welder certifications, which test the knowledge and skill level of those applying. Numerous Talladega AL employers not only expect a degree or certificate from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a highly regarded agency like the American Welding Society (AWS). Different certifications are available dependent on the type of work that the welder does. A few of the skills that certification can attest to are the welder's ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with certain metal thicknesses
- Work with specific kinds of welds
- Operate in compliance with contract specifications
As previously mentioned, many cities, states or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those requiring licensing, some additionally require certification for different types of work. Certification is also a way to prove to employers that you are an exceptionally skilled and qualified welder. So similarly as with licensing, check the requirements for your local area and make sure that the welder tech school you choose prepares you for certification as needed.
Topics to Ask Welding Technical Schools
As soon as you have decided on the credential you would like to attain, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can begin to compare 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 important to decide in advance what qualifications your selected school must have. We have already discussed a couple of important ones that most people look at first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As stated, although they are essential qualifications, they are not the only ones that should be considered. After all, the program you pick is going to furnish the training that will be the foundation of your new profession as a welder. So following are some additional factors you might need to consider before selecting a welder vocational school.
Accreditation. It's essential that the welder technical school you pick is accredited by either a national or a regional organization. There are two basic 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, for example Welding Technology. So make certain that the program you pick is accredited, not just the school alone. Also, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, for example the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping make sure that you get a superior education, the accreditation may also help in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable in Talladega AL for schools that are not accredited. Finally, for those states or local governments that require licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited also.
Job Assistance and Apprenticeship Programs. Many welder degree or certificate programs are provided in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Other schools will help place you in an apprenticeship or a job upon graduation. Ask if the schools you are reviewing assist 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 place their students. Older schools may have a more substantial network of graduates that they can rely upon for referrals. These programs can assist students in finding employment and establish associations within the Talladega AL welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that start an instructional program and complete it. It's important that the welder school you select has a higher completion rate. A lower rate may mean that the students who joined the program were dissatisfied with the instruction, the instructors, or the facilities, and dropped out. The job placement rate is also a good indicator of the caliber of training. A high job placement rate will not only affirm that the program has a good reputation within the trade, but additionally that it has the network of Talladega AL contacts to assist students secure employment or apprenticeships after graduation.
Modern Facilities and Equipment. After you have narrowed down your choice of welding schools to two or three possibilities, you should think out visiting the campuses to evaluate their facilities. Verify 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 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 Talladega AL welding professional if they can give you some suggestions.
School Location. Although we previously briefly discussed the relevance of location, there are a few additional issues that we need to cover. You should remember that unless you are able to move, the welding program you choose must be within commuting distance of your Talladega AL home. If you do choose to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there may be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly true for welding certificate programs offered by community colleges. Also, if the school provides a job placement or apprenticeship program, more than likely their placements are within the school's regional community. So the location of the school needs to be in an area or state where you subsequently will want to work.
Smaller Classes. Personalized training is essential for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's possible to be lost in bigger classes and not receive much one-on-one instruction. Find out what the average class size is for the welder schools you are reviewing. Ask if you can attend a few classes so that you can observe just how much individual attention the students are receiving. While there, talk with several of the students and get their evaluations. Also, talk with a couple of the teachers and find out what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they hold.
Flexible Class Scheduling. Some people learn a new profession while still employed at their present job. Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are looking at are convenient 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 reviewing provide those alternatives. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you pick offers part-time enrollment. Also, check to see what the policy is to make up classes if you you miss any because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Find the Right Talladega Welding Training for Certification
Picking the right welder school will probably be the most critical decision you will make to begin your new career. As we have covered in this article, there are several factors that you will need to assess and compare among the schools you are looking at. It's a must that any welding training that you are reviewing includes a considerable amount of hands-on training. Classes need to be smaller in size and every student should have their own welding machine to train with. Classroom education should provide a real-world frame of reference, and the course of study should be current and conform with industry standards. Courses differ in duration and the type of credential provided, so you will need to decide what length of program and degree or certificate will best fulfill your needs. Every program offers different options for certification as well. Perhaps the best way to research your short list of schools is to visit each campus and speak with the students and instructors. Take the time to monitor some classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the training program you select is the ideal one for you. With the proper training, hard work and dedication, the final result will be a new trade as a professional welder in Talladega AL.