How to Find the Right Welding Technical School near Troy Alabama
Finding the right welder school near Troy AL is an important first step to starting your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are so many schools to pick from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more significantly, once you have narrowed down your alternatives, how do you select the right one? Most prospective students begin by looking at the schools that are closest to their residences. When they have found those that are within commuting distance, they gravitate toward the least expensive one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are necessary concerns when examining welder vocational schools, but they are not the only ones. Other concerns include such things as accreditation, reputation and job placement rates. So before initiating your search for a vocational school to become a welder, it's sensible to establish 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.
Welding Degree and Certificate Training
There are multiple options to receive training as a welder in a technical or trade school. You can receive a diploma, a certificate or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are offered in Welding Technology or Welding Engineering, but are more advanced courses than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Below are short explanations of the most common welding programs available in the Troy AL area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are usually made available by technical and trade schools and take about a year to finish. They are more hands-on training in scope, designed mainly to develop welding skills. They can provide a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or supplemental 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 furnishes a more extensive education than the certificate or diploma while still providing the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
A number of municipalities and states do have licensing requirements for welders, therefore don't forget to check for your location of future employment. If needed, the welder school you choose should prep you for any licensing exams that you will need to pass in addition to furnishing the proper training to become a professional welder.
Welder Certification Choices
There are various organizations that offer welder certifications, which test the skill level and knowledge of those applying. A large number of Troy AL employers not only require a degree or certificate from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a renowned agency like the American Welding Society (AWS). A variety of certifications are offered dependent on the kind of work that the welder does. Some of the things that certification can acknowledge are the welder's ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specified metal thicknesses
- Work with certain kinds of welds
- Operate according to contract specifications
As earlier stated, some cities, states or local municipalities have licensing requirements 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 an exceptionally skilled and qualified welder. So just as with licensing, check the requirements for your local area and make certain that the welding tech school you choose readies you for certification as needed.
What to Ask Welder Technical Programs
When you have decided on the credential you would like to obtain, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can begin to evaluate schools. As you can imagine, there are a large number of welder trade and vocational schools in the Troy AL area. That's why it's important to establish in advance what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have previously covered 2 significant ones that many people consider 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 choose is going to furnish the training that will be the foundation of your new career as a welder. So following are more factors you might need to evaluate before choosing a welder vocational school.
Accreditation. It's essential that the welding tech school you choose is accredited by either a national or a regional organization. There are two standard types of accreditation. The school may attain Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a single program the school offers, for example Welding Technology. So confirm that the program you choose is accredited, not just the school alone. Additionally, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, like the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping make sure that you obtain a superior education, the accreditation may also assist in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases not offered in Troy AL for schools that are not accredited. Finally, for those states or local governments that mandate licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited also.
Job Placement and Apprenticeship Programs. Many welding certificate or degree 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 considering assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. These schools must have associations with local unions and other 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 develop associations within the Troy AL welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that begin an instructional program and finish it. It's important that the welder program you choose has a high completion rate. A low rate may signify that the students who were in the program were unhappy with the instruction, the teachers, or the facilities, and dropped out. The job placement rate is also an indication of the quality of training. A higher job placement rate will not only confirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of Troy AL contacts to assist students obtain employment or apprenticeships upon graduation.
Up-to-date Facilities and Equipment. After you have limited your choice of welding programs to two or three possibilities, you should think out going to the campuses to evaluate their facilities. Make sure that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be trained on are up-to-date. Specifically, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be working with 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 Troy AL welding professional if they can give you a few suggestions.
School Location. Even though we previously briefly talked about the significance of location, there are a few additional points that we need to deal with. You should remember that unless you are able to move, the welding school you select needs to be within driving distance of your Troy AL home. If you do choose to attend an out-of-state school, apart from moving expenses there could be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly the case for welder diploma programs offered by community colleges. Additionally, if the school offers a job placement or apprenticeship 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 want to work.
Small Classes. One-on-one instruction is important for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's possible to get lost in bigger classes and not obtain much individualized instruction. Ask what the average class size is for the welding programs you are reviewing. Inquire if you can sit in on a couple of classes so that you can see just how much personal attention the students are getting. While there, talk with some of the students and get their opinions. Similarly, speak with a few of the teachers and ask what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they hold.
Convenient Class Schedules. Some people learn a new trade while still working at their current job. Make sure that the class schedules for the schools you are looking at are convenient enough to meet your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Troy AL, verify that the schools you are looking at provide those alternatives. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, verify that the school you decide on 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 emergencies.
Choose the Best Troy Welding School for Certification
Choosing the best welder school will probably be the most important decision you will make to launch your new career. As we have addressed in this article, there are many factors that you will need to assess and compare among the schools you are reviewing. It's a necessity that any welder training program that you are considering includes a considerable amount of hands-on instruction. Classes should be smaller in size and each student should have their own welding machine to train with. Classroom education should provide a real-world perspective, and the curriculum should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Training programs vary in length and the kind of credential offered, so you will need to decide what length of program and degree or certificate will best serve your needs. Every program offers different options for certification also. Perhaps the best way to research your final list of schools is to check out each campus and speak with the students and instructors. Take the time to monitor a few classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the school you select is the right one for you. With the right training, effort and dedication, the final result will be a new occupation as a professional welder in Troy AL.