How to Pick the Best Welding Trade School near Theodore Alabama
Finding the ideal welding technical school near Theodore AL is an important first step to beginning your new career as a professional welder. But since there are so many schools to choose from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more significantly, once you have narrowed down your alternatives, how do you pick the best one? Many people begin by looking at the schools that are nearest to their residences. When they have located those that are within driving distance, they are drawn toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are important considerations when reviewing welding technical schools, but they are not the only ones. Other factors include such things as accreditation, reputation and job placement rates. So before starting your search for a vocational school to become a welder, it's wise to create a list of qualifications that your selected school must have. But before we examine our due diligence checklist, let's talk a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welding Degree and Certificate Programs
There are a number of options available to obtain training as a welder in a technical or trade school. You can obtain 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. Below are short explanations of the most typical welding programs offered in the Theodore AL area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are generally offered by technical and trade schools and take about a year to finish. They are more hands-on training in scope, created primarily to develop welding skills. They can furnish 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 offers a more extensive education than the certificate or diploma while still supplying the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
Some municipalities and states do have licensing prerequisites for welders, therefore don't forget to check for your location of potential employment. If required, the welder school you select should ready you for any licensing examinations that you will have to pass in addition to supplying the appropriate training to become a qualified welder.
Welding Certification Alternatives
There are a number of institutions that offer welder certifications, which assess the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Numerous Theodore AL employers not only expect a certificate or degree from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a highly regarded organization such as the American Welding Society (AWS). A wide range of certifications are available based on the kind of work that the welder performs. Just some of the skills that certification can attest to are the welder's ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with certain metal thicknesses
- Work with various types of welds
- Operate in compliance with contract specifications
As already mentioned, many states, cities or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those mandating licensing, a number also require certification for different kinds of work. Certification is also a way to prove to employers that you are an exceptionally skilled and qualified welder. So similarly as with licensing, check the requirements for your location and confirm that the welding vocational school you select prepares you for certification if needed.
Topics to Ask Welding Technical Programs
As soon as you have chosen the credential you would like to earn, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can start to evaluate schools. As you can imagine, there are numerous welding trade and vocational schools in the Theodore AL area. That's why it's important to determine in advance what qualifications your chosen school must have. We have already discussed two important 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 need to be looked at. After all, the program you choose is going to furnish the education that will be the foundation of your new career as a welder. So following are some additional factors you may need to evaluate before choosing a welder technical school.
Accreditation. It's extremely important that the welder vocational school you pick is accredited by either a regional or a national agency. There are two standard kinds of accreditation. The school may receive Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on an individual program the school offers, such as Welding Technology. So confirm 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 agency, like the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). In addition to helping make sure that you get a superior education, the accreditation can also help in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are often 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 also.
Apprenticeship and Job Placement Programs. Numerous welder certificate or degree programs are offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Some other schools will help place you in an apprenticeship or a job upon graduation. Ask if the schools you are looking at help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. The schools must have relationships with local unions and various metal working businesses to which they can place their students. Older schools may have a larger network of graduates that they can utilize for placements. These programs can help students find employment and establish associations within the Theodore AL welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that enroll in an academic program and complete it. It's crucial that the welding school you select has a high completion rate. A lower rate might signify that the students who enrolled in the program were unhappy with the instruction, 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 school has a good reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of Theodore AL employer relationships to help students secure apprenticeships or employment after graduation.
Up-to-date Facilities and Equipment. Once you have limited your selection of welding schools to two or three possibilities, you should consider going to the campuses to evaluate their facilities. Confirm that both the facilities and the equipment 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 contractor if they can give you a few pointers.
School Location. Although we previously briefly covered the relevance of location, there are a couple of additional points that we should cover. You should bear in mind that unless you are able to relocate, the welder school you choose needs to be within commuting distance of your Theodore AL home. If you do opt to attend an out-of-state school, besides moving costs there could be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly the case for welding degree 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 regional community. So the location of the school needs to be in a region or state where you ultimately will desire to work.
Smaller Classes. One-on-one instruction is essential for a manual trade such as welding. It's possible to be overlooked in larger classes and not receive much one-on-one instruction. Ask what the typical class size is for the welding schools you are reviewing. Ask if you can sit in on a couple of classes so that you can experience how much personal attention the students are receiving. While there, talk with some of the students and get their feedback. Also, chat with a few of the trainers and ask what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they have earned.
Convenient Class Schedules. Many people learn a new trade while still employed at their current job. Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are looking at are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Theodore AL, verify that the schools you are reviewing provide those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the policy is to make up classes if you you miss any because of work, illness or family circumstances.
Find the Right Theodore Welding School for Certification
Choosing the ideal welding school will undoubtedly 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 assess and compare between the schools you are reviewing. It's a necessity that any welder school that you are assessing includes a good deal of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be small in size and every student must have their own welding machine to train on. Classroom teaching needs to provide a real-world frame of reference, and the training program should be current and in-line with industry standards. Programs differ in duration and the type of credential offered, so you will need to ascertain what length of program and credential will best satisfy your needs. Each program provides unique options for certification also. Probably The ideal approach to research your short list of schools is to visit each campus and speak with the teachers and students. Invest some time to sit in on a few classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the training program you choose is the right one for you. With the right training, effort and dedication, the final outcome will be a new career as a professional welder in Theodore AL.