How to Find the Right Welder Certificate Program near Talladega Alabama
Choosing the right welder vocational school near Talladega AL is an essential first step to starting your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are numerous schools to choose from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more importantly, once you have narrowed down your alternatives, how do you select the best one? Many people begin by looking at the schools that are nearest to their homes. When they have found 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 examining welder vocational schools, but they are not the only ones. Other considerations include such things as reputation, accreditation and job placement rates. So before beginning your search for a vocational 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.
Welder Certificate and Degree Training
There are several alternatives available to obtain 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 Engineering or Welding Technology, but are more advanced programs than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available along with an apprenticeship program. Following are short summaries of the most typical welding programs available in the Talladega AL area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are generally offered by technical and trade schools and require about 1 year to finish. They are more hands-on training in scope, created mainly to develop welding skills. They can provide a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or specialized skills for working welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take two years to complete and are usually offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology offers a more well-rounded education than the diploma or certificate while still providing the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
Some municipalities and states do have licensing prerequisites for welders, so don't forget to find out for your location of potential employment. If needed, the welding school you choose should prepare you for any licensing examinations that you will need to pass in addition to providing the proper training to become a professional welder.
Welder Certification Options
There are several organizations that offer welder certifications, which evaluate the knowledge and skill level of those applying. A large number of 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 wide range of certifications are offered based on the type of work that the welder performs. Some of the things 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
- Operate based on contract specifications
As formerly stated, some states, cities or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those requiring licensing, a number additionally require certification for different types of work. Certification is also a way to prove to employers that you are an extremely skilled and knowledgeable welder. So just as with licensing, look into the requirements for your local area and confirm that the welding tech school you decide on preps you for certification if needed.
Points to Ask Welding Vocational Programs
Once you have chosen the credential you would like to earn, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can start to compare schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are a large number of welder trade and technical schools in the Talladega AL area. That's why it's necessary to establish up front what qualifications your chosen school must have. We have already covered a couple of important ones that most people consider first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As mentioned, although they are very important qualifications, they are not the only ones that need to be looked at. After all, the program you choose is going to provide the education that will be the foundation of your new profession as a welder. So below are some additional factors you may need to evaluate before selecting a welder technical school.
Accreditation. It's essential that the welder tech school you pick is accredited by either a national or a regional agency. There are 2 standard types of accreditation. The school may earn Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a single program the school has, for example Welding Technology. So make certain that the program you select is accredited, not just the school alone. Additionally, 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). Besides helping make sure that you get a superior education, the accreditation can also assist in getting financial aid or student loans, which are often unavailable in Talladega AL for non-accredited schools. Finally, for those states or municipalities that mandate licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited also.
Job Assistance 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 a job or an apprenticeship upon graduation. Ask if the schools you are looking at assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. The schools must have associations with local unions and other metal working businesses to which they can place their students. More established 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 associations within the Talladega AL welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that begin an instructional program and complete it. It's crucial that the welder school you choose has a high completion rate. A reduced rate may mean that the students who were in the program were dissatisfied with the instruction, the teachers, or the facilities, and dropped out. The job placement rate is also an indication of the caliber of training. A higher job placement rate will not only affirm that the program has a good reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of Talladega AL contacts to help students secure apprenticeships or employment upon graduation.
Up-to-date Facilities and Equipment. Once you have decreased your selection of welder schools to two or three possibilities, you should consider going to the campuses to evaluate their facilities. Make sure that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be trained on are modern. Specifically, 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, ask the master welder you are working under for guidance. Otherwise, ask a local Talladega AL welding contractor if they can give you a few suggestions.
School Location. Even though we already briefly covered the significance of location, there are a couple of additional points that we need to address. You should remember that unless you can relocate, the welder program you select must be within commuting distance of your Talladega AL home. If you do decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides moving costs there may be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly the case for welder degree programs offered by community colleges. Also, if the school offers a job placement or apprenticeship program, often 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 subsequently will want to work.
Smaller Classes. Individualized training is important for a manual trade such as welding. It's easy to be overlooked in bigger classes and not obtain much one-on-one instruction. Ask what the usual class size is for the welder schools you are looking at. Inquire if you can attend some classes so that you can observe how much personal attention the students are getting. While there, talk with several of the students and get their feedback. Also, speak with a few of the teachers and find out what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they hold.
Convenient 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 in the evenings or on weekends near Talladega AL, confirm that the schools you are looking at offer those choices. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, confirm that the school you decide on offers part-time enrollment. Also, check to see what the policy is to make up classes if you you miss any due to work, sickness or family emergencies.
Find the Best Talladega Welding Program for Certification
Selecting the ideal welding school will undoubtedly be the most important decision you will make to start your new trade. As we have discussed in this article, there are several factors that you will need to assess and compare between the schools you are looking at. It's a prerequisite that any welder training program that you are examining includes a good deal of hands-on instruction. Classes should be smaller in size and every student must have their personal welding machine to train with. Classroom teaching needs to offer a real-world context, and the curriculum should be current and in-line with industry standards. Training programs vary in duration and the type of credential provided, so you will have to determine what length of program and credential will best fulfill your needs. Every program offers different options for certification as well. Perhaps The ideal means to research your final list of schools is to go to each campus and speak with the teachers and students. Invest some time to attend a few classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the training program you select is the best one for you. With the right training, effort and dedication, the final outcome will be a new career as a professional welder in Talladega AL.