How to Enroll In the Best Welding Certification Program near Theodore Alabama
Selecting the right welding vocational school near Theodore AL is an essential first step to starting your new career as a professional welder. But since there are numerous 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 prospective students begin by checking out the schools that are nearest to their homes. Once they have identified those that are within driving distance, they are drawn toward the least expensive one. Yes, location and tuition cost are necessary considerations when evaluating welder trade schools, but they are not the only ones. Other considerations include such things as accreditation, reputation and job placement rates. So before beginning your search for a trade school to become a welder, it's prudent to create a list of qualifications that your chosen school must have. But before we delve into our due diligence checklist, let's talk a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welder Degree and Certificate Training
There are several options to obtain training as a welder in a trade or technical school. You can receive a diploma, a certificate 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 along with an apprenticeship program. Following are short descriptions of the most common welding programs offered in the Theodore AL area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are generally offered by trade and technical schools and take about a year to complete. They are more hands-on training in scope, fashioned primarily to develop welding skills. They can furnish a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or supplemental skills for experienced welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take 2 years to complete and are usually 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 states and municipalities do have licensing prerequisites for welders, therefore don't forget to find out for your location of future employment. As needed, the welder school you pick should ready you for any licensing examinations that you will need to take in addition to supplying the suitable training to become a qualified welder.
Welding Certification Alternatives
There are a number of organizations that offer welder certifications, which evaluate the knowledge and skill level of those applying. Many Theodore AL employers not only expect a certificate or degree from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a highly regarded organization such as the American Welding Society (AWS). Different 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 specific metal thicknesses
- Work with certain types of welds
- Operate based on contract specifications
As already mentioned, some cities, states or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those calling for licensing, some also require certification for various kinds of work. Certification is also a means to prove to employers that you are an exceptionally skilled and experienced welder. So just as with licensing, check the requirements for your location and verify that the welder technical school you decide on prepares you for certification if needed.
Questions to Ask Welding Trade Schools
After you have decided on the credential you would like to earn, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can begin to evaluate schools. As you probably know, there are numerous welder vocational and trade schools in the Theodore AL area. That's why it's important to determine up front what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have already covered a couple of important ones that many people look at first, which are location and tuition cost. As mentioned, although they are essential qualifiers, they are not the only ones that need to be considered. After all, the program you decide on is going to provide the training that will be the foundation of your new vocation as a welder. So below are some additional factors you may need to evaluate before choosing a welding vocational school.
Accreditation. It's very important that the welder trade school you pick is accredited by either a regional or a national agency. There are 2 standard kinds of accreditation. The school may attain Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on an individual program the school offers, for example Welding Technology. So confirm that the program you pick is accredited, not just the school itself. Additionally, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, for example the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). In addition to helping ensure that you receive an excellent education, the accreditation might 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 also.
Apprenticeship and Job Placement Programs. A large number of welding degree or diploma programs are provided in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Various other schools will help place you in a job or an apprenticeship after graduation. Find out if the schools you are reviewing assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. The schools should have relationships with local unions and various metal working businesses to which they can place their students. More established schools may have a more substantial network of graduates that they can utilize for referrals. These programs can assist students in finding employment and develop relationships within the Theodore AL welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that start an instructional program and complete it. It's crucial that the welder program you select has a higher completion rate. A lower rate might signify that the students who enrolled in 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 higher job placement rate will not only affirm that the program has a good reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of Theodore AL employer relationships to help students obtain apprenticeships or employment after graduation.
Modern Equipment and Facilities. Once you have decreased your selection of welding schools to two or three options, you should consider visiting the campuses to inspect their facilities. Make sure that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be instructed on are modern. In particular, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be using on the job. If you are unsure 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 Theodore AL welding contractor if they can give you some tips.
School Location. Even though we already briefly covered the relevance of location, there are a couple of additional issues that we need to address. You should bear in mind that unless you can relocate, the welder program you pick needs to be within commuting distance of your Theodore AL home. If you do decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, apart from relocation costs there might be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly true for welder certificate programs offered by community colleges. Also, if the school offers 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 a region or state where you subsequently will desire to work.
Small Classes. One-on-one training is important for a manual trade such as welding. It's possible to get lost in bigger classes and not receive much personalized instruction. Find out what the average class size is for the welding schools you are looking at. Ask if you can attend a few classes so that you can witness just how much individual attention the students are receiving. While there, speak with several of the students and get their feedback. Also, talk to a couple of the teachers and find out what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they hold.
Convenient Class Scheduling. Lots of folks learn a new trade while still employed at their present job. Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are flexible enough to satisfy your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Theodore AL, make sure that the schools you are assessing offer those choices. If you can only enroll part-time, confirm that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, check to see what the protocol is to make up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
Choose the Best Theodore Welding Course for Certification
Choosing the right welder school will probably be the most important decision you will make to start your new career. As we have discussed in this article, there are several things that you will need to evaluate and compare between the schools you are considering. It's a necessity that any welder school that you are assessing includes a considerable amount of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be smaller in size and each student must have their personal welding machine to train on. Classroom teaching needs to provide a real-world perspective, and the course of study should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Training programs vary in duration and the type of credential offered, so you will need to determine what length of program and degree or certificate will best fulfill your needs. Every training program provides unique options for certification as well. Probably The ideal way to research your final list of schools is to visit each campus and talk with the teachers and students. Take the time to attend a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the school you choose is the best one for you. With the proper training, hard work and dedication, the end result will be a new trade as a professional welder in Theodore AL.