How to Choose the Best Welder Degree Program near Tarrant Alabama
Selecting the right welding school near Tarrant AL is an important first step to starting your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are a lot of schools to select from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more importantly, once you have fine tuned your alternatives, how do you select the right one? Many prospective students begin by checking out the schools that are closest to their homes. Once they have located those that are within driving distance, they gravitate toward the least expensive one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are necessary concerns when examining welding technical 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 trade school to become a welder, it's wise to create a list of qualifications that your chosen school must have. But before we explore our due diligence checklist, let's cover a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welding Certificate and Degree Training Courses
There are several options to obtain training as a welder in a technical or trade school. You can obtain a a certificate, a diploma or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are available in Welding Technology or Welding Engineering, but are more advanced programs than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available combined with an apprenticeship program. Following are brief summaries of the most common welding programs offered in the Tarrant AL area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are generally offered by trade and technical schools and require about a year to complete. They are more hands-on training in nature, designed mainly to develop welding skills. They can furnish a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or specialized skills for experienced welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take 2 years to finish and are most often offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology provides a more well-rounded education than the diploma or certificate while still providing the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
Many municipalities and states do have licensing prerequisites for welders, therefore make sure to check for your location of future employment. As needed, the welding school you pick should ready you for any licensing exams that you will need to pass in addition to providing the suitable training to become a professional welder.
Welder Certification Choices
There are various organizations that offer welding certifications, which evaluate the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Numerous Tarrant AL employers not only demand a degree or certificate from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a respected agency such as the American Welding Society (AWS). Different certifications are offered based on the kind of work that the welder does. Some of the skills that certification can attest to are the welder's ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specified metal thicknesses
- Work with specific types of welds
- Work in compliance with contract specifications
As earlier mentioned, various cities, states or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those calling for licensing, some additionally require certification for various kinds of work. Certification is also a means to prove to employers that you are an extremely skilled and experienced welder. So similarly as with licensing, check the requirements for your local area and make sure that the welding trade school you select prepares you for certification if needed.
Subjects to Ask Welding Vocational Programs
As soon as you have chosen the credential you want to earn, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can begin to assess schools. As you probably know, there are a large number of welding trade and technical schools in the Tarrant AL area. That's why it's necessary to determine in advance what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have already discussed two important ones that many people consider first, which are location and tuition cost. As mentioned, although they are essential qualifications, they are not the only ones that need to be looked at. After all, the school you decide on is going to provide the education that will be the foundation of your new profession as a welder. So below are more factors you may want to consider before picking a welder tech school.
Accreditation. It's essential that the welding tech school you decide on is accredited by either a national or a regional organization. There are two standard types 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 example Welding Technology. So confirm that the program you select is accredited, not just the school itself. Additionally, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, like the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping make sure that you obtain a superior education, the accreditation can also help in securing financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases not offered in Tarrant AL for schools that are not accredited. Finally, for those states or local governments that mandate licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited as well.
Apprenticeship and Job Assistance Programs. A large number of welding certificate or degree programs are offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Some other schools will assist in placing you in a job or an apprenticeship after graduation. Find out if the schools you are reviewing help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. The schools must have relationships with local unions and other metal working businesses to which they can refer their students. More established schools may have a more substantial network of graduates that they can utilize for placements. These programs can assist students in finding employment and establish relationships within the Tarrant AL welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that enroll in an academic program and finish it. It's essential that the welder school you choose has a high completion rate. A low rate could indicate that the students who joined the program were unhappy with the training, the instructors, or the facilities, and quit. The job placement rate is also an indication of the quality of training. A high 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 Tarrant AL contacts to assist students obtain apprenticeships or employment after graduation.
Up-to-date Equipment and Facilities. After you have limited your choice of welding programs to 2 or 3 options, you should think out going to the campuses to inspect their facilities. Verify that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be trained on are up-to-date. Specifically, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be working with on the job. If you are not sure 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 Tarrant AL welding professional if they can give you a few suggestions.
School Location. Although we already briefly talked about the relevance of location, there are a few additional issues that we should deal with. You should bear in mind that unless you have the ability to relocate, the welding program you select must be within commuting distance of your Tarrant AL home. If you do opt to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides relocation costs there might be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly the case for welder diploma programs offered by community colleges. Also, if the school provides an apprenticeship or job placement 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 desire to work.
Small Classes. Personalized training is important for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's possible to be overlooked in larger classes and not obtain much individualized training. Ask what the usual class size is for the welder programs you are reviewing. Ask if you can attend a couple of classes so that you can see just how much personal attention the students are getting. While there, talk with several of the students and get their feedback. Similarly, speak with a few of the trainers and ask what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they hold.
Convenient Class Scheduling. Lots of folks learn a new profession while still employed at their present job. Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are considering are convenient enough to satisfy your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Tarrant AL, make sure that the schools you are assessing offer those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you pick offers part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the policy is to make up classes if you you miss any due to work, sickness or family responsibilities.
Find the Right Tarrant Welding Training for Certification
Selecting the ideal welding school will probably be the most critical decision you will make to launch your new career. As we have addressed in this article, there are several things that you will need to assess and compare between the programs you are considering. It's a necessity that any welder training program that you are considering includes a lot of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be smaller in size and every student must have their personal welding machine to train on. Classroom education should offer a real-world perspective, and the training program should be current and in-line with industry standards. Courses differ in duration and the kind of credential provided, so you will need to ascertain what length of program and certificate or degree will best fulfill your needs. Each training program offers different possibilities for certification as well. Perhaps the best means to research your short list of schools is to check out each campus and speak with the faculty and students. Take the time to sit in on some classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the program you decide on is the right one for you. With the right training, effort and commitment, the final outcome will be a new trade as a professional welder in Tarrant AL.