How to Enroll In the Right Welder Certification Course near Theodore Alabama
Finding the right welding technical school near Theodore AL is an essential first step to starting your new career as a professional welder. But since there are so many schools to pick from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more notably, once you have narrowed down your options, how do you select the right one? A number of prospective students start by checking out the schools that are nearest to their residences. When they have found those that are within commuting distance, they are drawn toward the least costly one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are important concerns when examining welding vocational schools, but they are not the only ones. Other factors include such things as reputation, accreditation and job placement rates. So before starting 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 examine our due diligence checklist, let's cover a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welding Degree and Certificate Training Classes
There are multiple alternatives available to obtain training as a welder in a trade or technical school. You can obtain a diploma, a certificate or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are available in Welding Engineering or Welding Technology, but are more advanced degrees than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Below are brief descriptions of the most common welding programs offered in the Theodore AL area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are usually made available by technical and trade schools and take about one year to complete. They are more hands-on training in nature, designed mainly to develop welding skills. They can provide a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or additional 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 extensive education than the diploma or certificate while still supplying the foundation that prepares 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 required, the welding school you choose should prepare you for any licensing examinations that you will need to pass in addition to supplying the suitable training to become a professional welder.
Welder Certification Choices
There are multiple institutions that offer welder certifications, which evaluate the knowledge and skill level of those applying. A large number of Theodore AL employers not only require a certificate or degree from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a highly regarded agency such as the American Welding Society (AWS). Different certifications are offered dependent on the type of work that the welder does. Just some of the skills that certification can acknowledge are the welder's ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specific metal thicknesses
- Work with various kinds of welds
- Operate in compliance with contract specifications
As already mentioned, many states, cities or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those requiring licensing, some also require certification for different types of work. Certification is also a way to prove to employers that you are a highly skilled and experienced welder. So similarly as with licensing, check the requirements for your location and confirm that the welder trade school you select readies you for certification as needed.
Questions to Ask Welder Technical Programs
Once you have decided on the credential you want to attain, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can start to assess schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are many welder vocational and trade schools in the Theodore AL area. That's why it's necessary to determine in advance what qualifications your chosen school must have. We have already discussed a couple of significant ones that many people look at first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As mentioned, although they are essential qualifiers, they are not the only ones that must be considered. After all, the school you select is going to furnish the education that will be the foundation of your new vocation as a welder. So below are some additional factors you may want to evaluate before picking a welding vocational school.
Accreditation. It's extremely important that the welding vocational school you choose is accredited by either a regional or a national agency. There are 2 standard kinds of accreditation. The school may earn Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a specific program the school has, for instance 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, for example the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). In addition to helping make sure that you receive a superior education, the accreditation may also assist in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not offered in Theodore AL for non-accredited schools. Finally, for those states or municipalities that require licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited as well.
Job Assistance and Apprenticeship Programs. Many welder certificate or degree programs are provided in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Some other schools will assist in placing you in a job or an apprenticeship upon graduation. Find out if the schools you are considering assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. These schools must have partnerships 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 rely upon for referrals. These programs can assist students in finding employment and establish relationships within the Theodore AL welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that enroll in an instructional program and complete it. It's essential that the welder school you choose has a higher completion rate. A reduced rate could mean that the students who joined the program were dissatisfied with the instruction, the instructors, or the facilities, and quit. The job placement rate is also an indication of the quality of training. A higher job placement rate will not only affirm that the program has an excellent reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of Theodore AL employer relationships to help students obtain apprenticeships or employment after graduation.
Modern Equipment and Facilities. After you have narrowed down your choice of welding schools to two or three possibilities, you should consider visiting the campuses to look over their facilities. Verify that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are up-to-date. In particular, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be using 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 Theodore AL welding contractor if they can give you a few pointers.
School Location. Although we already briefly discussed the importance of location, there are a few additional issues that we need to cover. You should keep in mind that unless you are able to move, the welder program you choose needs to be within commuting distance of your Theodore AL home. If you do opt to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to moving expenses there could be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially true for welder diploma programs offered by community colleges. Furthermore, if the school provides an apprenticeship or job placement program, often 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.
Small Classes. Individualized instruction is important for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's possible to be lost in bigger classes and not receive much individualized training. Find out what the average class size is for the welder schools you are considering. Ask if you can attend some classes so that you can experience just how much personal attention the students are getting. While there, speak with some of the students and get their evaluations. Similarly, speak with some of the instructors and find out what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they have earned.
Flexible Class Schedules. Some people learn a new trade while still working at their current job. Check to see that the class schedules for the schools you are reviewing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Theodore AL, make certain that the schools you are reviewing provide those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you decide on offers part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the protocol is to make up classes if you you miss any because of work, sickness or family circumstances.
Choose the Right Theodore Welding Program for Certification
Picking the right welder school will probably be the most important decision you will make to start your new profession. As we have addressed in this article, there are many things that you will need to examine and compare among the schools you are reviewing. It's a necessity that any welder training program that you are examining includes a good deal of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be small in size and each student must have their personal welding machine to train with. Classroom teaching needs to provide a real-world frame of reference, and the curriculum should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Programs differ in length and the type of credential provided, so you will need to ascertain what length of program and credential will best fulfill your needs. Each training program offers different options for certification as well. Perhaps The ideal approach to research your final list of schools is to go to each campus and speak with the students and faculty. Take the time to monitor some classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the training program you decide on is the right one for you. With the right training, hard work and dedication, the final outcome will be a new career as a professional welder in Theodore AL.