How to Enroll In the Right Welder Training Program near Theodore Alabama
Locating the right welder technical school near Theodore AL is an important first step to beginning your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are a lot of schools to choose from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more significantly, once you have narrowed down your options, how do you pick the best one? Most people begin by checking out the schools that are nearest to their homes. When they have located those that are within driving distance, they gravitate toward the least expensive one. Yes, location and tuition cost are necessary 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 initiating your search for a trade school to become a welder, it's sensible to establish 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 several alternatives available to receive 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 Engineering or Welding Technology, but are more advanced courses than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available along with an apprenticeship program. Following are brief summaries of the most typical welding programs available in the Theodore AL area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are generally made available by trade and technical schools and take about one year to complete. They are more hands-on training in nature, fashioned primarily 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 2 years to complete and are most often offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology provides a more well-rounded education than the certificate or diploma while still providing the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
A number of states and municipalities do have licensing requirements for welders, so be sure to find out for your location of potential employment. If required, the welding school you choose should prep you for any licensing examinations that you will have to pass in addition to providing the proper training to become a qualified welder.
Welder Certification Options
There are a number of institutions that provide welding certifications, which evaluate the skill level and knowledge of those applying. A large number of Theodore AL employers not only demand a certificate or degree from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a respected organization like the American Welding Society (AWS). Different certifications are available based on the kind of work that the welder performs. Just some of the things that certification can acknowledge are the welder's ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specific metal thicknesses
- Work with specific kinds of welds
- Operate in compliance with contract specifications
As already mentioned, various states, cities or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those requiring licensing, some additionally require certification for various types of work. Certification is also a way to demonstrate to employers that you are an extremely skilled and knowledgeable welder. So similarly as with licensing, check the requirements for your local area and verify that the welder trade school you select prepares you for certification if needed.
Questions to Ask Welding Trade Programs
When you have decided on the credential you want to obtain, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can start to assess schools. As you probably know, there are numerous welding 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 previously covered 2 significant ones that most people look at first, which are location and tuition cost. As stated, although they are essential qualifiers, they are not the only ones that should be looked at. After all, the school you pick 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 want to consider before picking a welder trade school.
Accreditation. It's extremely important that the welder technical school you decide on 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 a single program the school has, for example Welding Technology. So make certain that the program you choose is accredited, not just the school itself. Also, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, like 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 aid or student loans, which are frequently not offered in Theodore AL for schools that are not accredited. Finally, for those states or municipalities that mandate licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited also.
Apprenticeship and Job Assistance Programs. Many welding degree or certificate programs are provided combined with an apprenticeship program. Some other schools will help place 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 assistance program. The schools should 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 develop relationships within the Theodore AL welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that enroll in an academic program and finish it. It's crucial that the welder program you pick has a high completion rate. A reduced rate could indicate that the students who were in the program were dissatisfied with the instruction, the instructors, or the facilities, and dropped out. The job placement rate is also an indication of the caliber of training. A high job placement rate will not only confirm that the school has a good reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of Theodore AL employer relationships to help students secure apprenticeships or employment after graduation.
Modern Facilities and Equipment. Once you have limited your choice of welder schools to 2 or 3 options, you should consider going to the campuses to inspect their facilities. Make sure that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be trained 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. Otherwise, ask a local Theodore AL welding contractor if they can give you a few tips.
School Location. Although we already briefly covered the importance of location, there are a few additional issues that we need to cover. You should remember that unless you can relocate, the welder program you select needs to be within commuting distance of your Theodore AL home. If you do decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides moving expenses there might be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially the case for welder diploma programs offered by community colleges. Additionally, 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 should be in an area or state where you subsequently will desire to work.
Smaller Classes. Personalized training is important for a manual trade such as welding. It's easy to get lost in bigger classes and not obtain much individualized instruction. Ask what the typical class size is for the welding programs you are reviewing. Ask if you can attend some classes so that you can witness how much individual attention the students are receiving. While there, speak with a few of the students and get their evaluations. Also, talk with a couple of the trainers 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 schools you are looking at are convenient enough to satisfy your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Theodore AL, make sure that the schools you are considering offer those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, confirm that the school you decide on 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.
Choose the Best Theodore Welding Program for Certification
Picking the right welding training program will undoubtedly be the most critical decision you will make to launch your new career. As we have discussed in this article, there are many things that you will need to examine and compare among the programs you are looking at. It's a must that any welder training that you are assessing includes a good deal of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be small in size and each student should have their personal welding machine to train with. Classroom instruction should offer a real-world frame of reference, and the training program should be current and conform with industry standards. Training programs differ in duration and the type of credential offered, so you will need to ascertain what length of program and certificate or degree will best serve your needs. Each training program offers different options for certification also. Perhaps the best approach to research your short list of schools is to check out each campus and talk with the teachers and students. Take the time to monitor a few classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the training program you choose is the best one for you. With the right training, hard work and dedication, the final result will be a new trade as a professional welder in Theodore AL.