How to Pick the Best Welder Technical School near Troy Alabama
Choosing the ideal welding vocational school near Troy AL is an essential first step to beginning your new career as a professional welder. But since there are numerous schools to choose from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more importantly, once you have fine tuned your alternatives, how do you pick the best one? A number of people start by looking at the schools that are closest to their homes. Once they have located those that are within commuting distance, they are drawn toward the least costly one. Yes, location and tuition cost are crucial concerns when reviewing welder technical schools, but they are not the only ones. Other concerns 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 prudent to develop a list of qualifications that your chosen school must have. But before we delve into our due diligence checklist, let's cover a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welder Certificate and Degree Training
There are a number of options available to obtain training as a welder in a trade or vocational 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 degrees than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also offered combined with an apprenticeship program. Following are short descriptions of the most prevalent welding programs offered in the Troy AL area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are usually made available by trade and technical schools and require about a year to complete. They are more hands-on training in scope, designed largely to teach 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 two years to finish and are usually offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology furnishes a more extensive education than the certificate or diploma while still supplying the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
Some states and municipalities do have licensing requirements for welders, so don't forget to check for your location of potential employment. As needed, the welding school you choose should prepare you for any licensing examinations that you will need to pass in addition to supplying the appropriate training to become a qualified welder.
Welding Certification Alternatives
There are multiple organizations that provide welding certifications, which evaluate the knowledge and skill level of those applying. A large number of Troy AL employers not only expect a degree or certificate from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a respected organization like the American Welding Society (AWS). A wide range of certifications are offered dependent 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 previously stated, various cities, states or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those calling for licensing, some additionally require certification for various kinds of work. Certification is also a means to prove to employers that you are an extremely skilled and experienced welder. So just as with licensing, look into the requirements for your location and make sure that the welder tech school you decide on readies you for certification as needed.
Questions to Ask Welding Vocational Programs
After you have chosen the credential you want to attain, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can begin to evaluate schools. As you probably know, there are numerous welding vocational and trade schools in the Troy AL area. That's why it's necessary to determine up front what qualifications your selected school must have. We have previously covered 2 significant ones that many people look at first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As mentioned, although they are very important qualifiers, they are not the only ones that must be considered. After all, the program you select is going to provide the education that will be the foundation of your new career as a welder. So below are some additional factors you may need to consider before selecting a welder trade school.
Accreditation. It's extremely important that the welder vocational school you select is accredited by either a national or a regional organization. There are 2 standard kinds of accreditation. The school may earn Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a single program the school has, for instance Welding Technology. So verify that the program you select is accredited, not just the school itself. Also, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, like the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping make sure that you receive an excellent education, the accreditation might also assist in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases not available in Troy AL for non-accredited schools. Also, for those states or municipalities that require licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited also.
Job Assistance and Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of welder degree or diploma programs are provided combined with an apprenticeship program. Some other schools will assist in placing you in an apprenticeship or a job after graduation. Ask if the schools you are reviewing assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. The schools must 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 rely upon for referrals. These programs can assist students in finding employment and develop relationships within the Troy AL welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that begin an academic program and complete it. It's important that the welding school you choose has a high completion rate. A lower rate might mean that the students who enrolled in the program were dissatisfied with the training, the instructors, or the facilities, and quit. The job placement rate is also a good indicator of the quality of training. A higher job placement rate will not only affirm that the program has an excellent reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of Troy AL employer relationships to assist students obtain apprenticeships or employment upon graduation.
Modern Facilities and Equipment. Once you have decreased your selection of welder programs to 2 or 3 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 taught on are up-to-date. Specifically, the training equipment should be comparable to what you will be using on the job. If you are not sure what to look for, and are already 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 some suggestions.
School Location. Although we already briefly discussed the importance of location, there are a few additional issues that we should cover. You should bear in mind that unless you can move, the welder program you choose must be within driving distance of your Troy AL home. If you do opt to attend an out-of-state school, besides relocation costs there may be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly true for welder degree 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 needs to be in a region or state where you subsequently will desire to work.
Small Classes. One-on-one instruction is essential for a manual trade such as welding. It's easy to get lost in bigger classes and not receive much personalized instruction. Find out what the usual class size is for the welder programs you are considering. Inquire if you can attend some classes so that you can see how much individual attention the students are receiving. While there, talk with several of the students and get their evaluations. Also, chat with a few of the teachers and ask 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 present job. Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are looking at are convenient enough to meet your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Troy AL, confirm that the schools you are looking at offer those alternatives. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the school you pick 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 circumstances.
Choose the Best Troy Welding Program for Certification
Selecting the ideal welder training program will undoubtedly be the most important decision you will make to begin your new trade. As we have discussed in this article, there are a number of things that you will need to evaluate and compare among the schools you are reviewing. It's a must that any welder training that you are considering includes a considerable amount of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be smaller in size and every student should have their personal welding machine to train on. Classroom teaching should provide a real-world context, and the course of study should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Programs differ in duration and the kind of credential provided, so you will have to ascertain what length of program and degree or certificate will best serve your needs. Each training program provides different possibilities for certification also. Probably the best way to research your final list of schools is to check out each campus and speak with the teachers and students. Invest some time to monitor a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the training program you decide on is the best one for you. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, the end outcome will be a new trade as a professional welder in Troy AL.