How to Pick the Best Welding Training Program near Theodore Alabama
Locating the ideal welding trade school near Theodore AL is an important first step to launching your new career as a professional welder. But since there are numerous 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 best one? A number of people start by reviewing the schools that are closest to their residences. When they have identified those that are within commuting distance, they gravitate toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are important considerations when reviewing 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 wise to establish a list of qualifications that your selected 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
There are a number of options to obtain training as a welder in a technical or trade school. You can earn a diploma, a certificate 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 offered along with an apprenticeship program. Following are short summaries of the most common welding programs available in the Theodore AL area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are generally made available by trade and technical schools and take about 1 year to finish. They are more hands-on training in nature, fashioned primarily to develop welding skills. They can furnish a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or specialized skills for working welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take 2 years to finish and are usually offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology furnishes a more extensive education than the diploma or certificate while still providing the foundation that readies 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. If required, the welder school you pick should prep you for any licensing examinations that you will have to take in addition to furnishing the suitable training to become a qualified welder.
Welding Certification Alternatives
There are multiple organizations that offer welder certifications, which evaluate the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Numerous Theodore AL employers not only require a certificate or degree from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a highly regarded agency such as the American Welding Society (AWS). A variety of certifications are offered based on the kind of work that the welder performs. Just some of the skills that certification can acknowledge are the welder's ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specified metal thicknesses
- Work with various types of welds
- Perform according to contract specifications
As already mentioned, many states, cities or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those requiring licensing, many additionally require certification for various kinds of work. Certification is also a way to prove to employers that you are a highly skilled and experienced welder. So just as with licensing, check the requirements for your local area and make certain that the welder trade school you choose preps you for certification as needed.
Topics to Ask Welding Tech Programs
When you have chosen the credential you want to attain, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can begin to compare schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are many welder trade and technical schools in the Theodore AL area. That's why it's necessary to establish in advance what qualifications your selected school must have. We have already covered two important ones that many people look at first, which are location and tuition cost. As mentioned, although they are very important qualifiers, they are not the only ones that need to be looked at. After all, the school you pick is going to furnish the education that will be the foundation of your new profession as a welder. So following are some additional factors you may want to evaluate before choosing a welding trade school.
Accreditation. It's extremely important that the welder trade school you pick is accredited by either a national or a regional organization. There are two standard kinds of accreditation. The school may receive Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a specific program the school offers, for example Welding Technology. So verify that the program you pick is accredited, not just the school alone. Also, 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). Besides helping ensure that you obtain an excellent education, the accreditation may also help in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently unavailable in Theodore AL for non-accredited schools. Finally, for those states or local governments that mandate licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited as well.
Apprenticeship and Job Placement Programs. A large number of welding degree or certificate programs are provided 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. These 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 larger network of graduates that they can utilize for referrals. These programs can help students find employment and develop associations within the Theodore AL welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that begin an academic program and complete it. It's crucial that the welder school you choose has a high completion rate. A low rate might signify that the students who were in the program were unhappy with the training, the instructors, or the facilities, and dropped out. The job placement rate is also a good indicator of the caliber of training. A high job placement rate will not only affirm that the program has a good reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of Theodore AL contacts to assist students obtain apprenticeships or employment after graduation.
Modern Equipment and Facilities. After you have decreased your choice of welder schools to two or three possibilities, you should think out going to the campuses to look over 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 comparable 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. Otherwise, ask a local Theodore AL welding professional if they can give you some pointers.
School Location. Even though we previously briefly discussed the importance of location, there are a couple of additional issues that we need to address. You should keep in mind that unless you can move, the welding school you choose must be within driving distance of your Theodore AL home. If you do opt to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to moving expenses there might be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly the case for welding certificate programs offered by community colleges. Furthermore, if the school offers an apprenticeship or job placement program, most likely their placements are within the school's local community. So the location of the school should be in a region or state where you subsequently will desire to work.
Small Classes. One-on-one training is essential for a manual trade such as welding. It's possible to be overlooked in bigger classes and not receive much one-on-one training. Ask what the usual class size is for the welding schools you are looking at. Ask if you can sit in on a few classes so that you can experience how much individual attention the students are receiving. While there, speak with several of the students and get their evaluations. Also, talk with a couple of the teachers and find out what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they have earned.
Convenient Class Schedules. Lots of folks learn a new profession while still employed at their current job. Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are convenient enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Theodore AL, verify that the schools you are assessing offer those alternatives. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, verify that the school you decide on offers part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the policy is to make up classes should you miss any because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Find the Right Theodore Welding Program for Certification
Selecting the best welder school will probably be the most critical decision you will make to start your new career. As we have addressed in this article, there are several factors that you will need to assess and compare among the schools you are considering. It's a prerequisite that any welder school that you are examining includes a considerable amount of hands-on training. Classes need to be small in size and every student must have their personal welding machine to train with. Classroom education should offer a real-world frame of reference, and the curriculum should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Programs differ in duration and the type of credential offered, so you will have to decide what length of program and credential will best fulfill your needs. Every training program offers unique possibilities for certification also. Perhaps the best means to research your short list of schools is to go to each campus and speak with the students and instructors. Take the time to monitor some classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the training program you select is the ideal one for you. With the right training, hard work and commitment, the end outcome will be a new trade as a professional welder in Theodore AL.