How to Select the Best Welding Degree Program near Trussville Alabama
Selecting the ideal welder technical school near Trussville AL is an essential first step to beginning your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are so many schools to select from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more notably, once you have narrowed down your choices, how do you pick the best one? Many people start by checking out the schools that are closest to their homes. When they have found those that are within commuting distance, they gravitate toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and tuition cost are necessary concerns when examining welder vocational schools, but they are not the only ones. Other concerns include such things as reputation, accreditation 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 explore our due diligence checklist, let's talk a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welder Certificate and Degree Training
There are several options available to receive training as a welder in a technical or trade school. You can obtain a a certificate, a diploma or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are offered in Welding Engineering or Welding Technology, but are more advanced programs than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also offered combined with an apprenticeship program. Following are brief descriptions of the most typical welding programs offered in the Trussville AL area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are usually offered by technical and trade schools and take about one year to finish. They are more hands-on training in nature, designed largely to teach 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 two years to complete and are usually offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology offers a more extensive education than the certificate or diploma while still furnishing the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
Some municipalities and states do have licensing requirements for welders, so be sure to check for your location of potential employment. If required, the welder school you select should prepare you for any licensing exams that you will have to pass in addition to furnishing the appropriate training to become a qualified welder.
Welder Certification Options
There are multiple organizations that offer welder certifications, which assess the knowledge and skill level of those applying. Numerous Trussville AL employers not only require a certificate or degree from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a renowned agency like the American Welding Society (AWS). A wide range of certifications are available dependent on the type of work that the welder performs. Some of the skills that certification can acknowledge are the welder's ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specified metal thicknesses
- Work with specific types of welds
- Operate based on contract specifications
As already stated, many cities, states or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those requiring licensing, a number additionally require certification for various kinds of work. Certification is also a means to demonstrate to employers that you are a highly skilled and qualified welder. So just as with licensing, check the requirements for your local area and confirm that the welder trade school you decide on preps you for certification as needed.
Topics to Ask Welding Technical Schools
As soon as you have chosen the credential you would like to attain, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can begin to compare schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are a large number of welding trade and technical schools in the Trussville AL area. That's why it's necessary to establish in advance what qualifications your chosen school must have. We have previously covered a couple of important ones that most people consider first, which are location and tuition cost. As mentioned, although they are essential qualifications, they are not the only ones that need to be looked at. After all, the program you choose is going to provide the instruction that will be the foundation of your new profession as a welder. So following are some additional factors you might need to evaluate before selecting a welding vocational school.
Accreditation. It's essential that the welder trade school you pick is accredited by either a regional or a national organization. There are two basic types of accreditation. The school may earn Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on an individual program the school offers, such as Welding Technology. So make certain that the program you select is accredited, not just the school alone. Also, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education recognized 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 might also assist in getting financial assistance or student loans, which are often not available in Trussville AL for non-accredited schools. Also, for those states or local governments that require licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited as well.
Job Assistance and Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of welding diploma or degree programs are offered combined with an apprenticeship program. Other schools will assist in placing you in an apprenticeship or a job after graduation. Find out if the schools you are reviewing help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. The schools should have partnerships with local unions and other metal working businesses to which they can refer their students. Older schools may have a larger network of graduates that they can utilize for placements. These programs can assist students in finding employment and establish associations within the Trussville AL welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that enroll in an instructional program and finish it. It's important that the welder school you pick has a higher completion rate. A reduced rate may signify that the students who joined the program were dissatisfied with the training, the teachers, or the facilities, and quit. The job placement rate is also a good indicator of the quality of training. A high job placement rate will not only confirm that the program has an excellent reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of Trussville AL employer relationships to assist students secure employment or apprenticeships after graduation.
Modern Facilities and Equipment. After you have narrowed down your choice of welder programs to two or three possibilities, you should consider going to the campuses to look over their facilities. Confirm that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be taught on are up-to-date. In particular, the training equipment should be comparable to what you will be working with in the field. If you are unsure what to look for, and are currently in an apprenticeship program, ask the master welder you are working under for guidance. If not, ask a local Trussville AL welding professional if they can give you some pointers.
School Location. Even though we previously briefly discussed the significance of location, there are a few additional issues that we should deal with. You should bear in mind that unless you are able to relocate, the welding program you select needs to be within commuting distance of your Trussville AL home. If you do opt to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides moving costs there might be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly the case for welding degree programs offered by community colleges. Also, if the school offers a job placement or apprenticeship program, most likely their placements are within the school's regional community. So the location of the school should be in a region or state where you ultimately will wish to work.
Smaller Classes. Personalized training is important for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's easy to get lost in bigger classes and not obtain much one-on-one instruction. Ask what the usual class size is for the welder schools you are looking at. Inquire if you can sit in on a few classes so that you can see just how much personal attention the students are getting. While there, speak with a few of the students and get their opinions. Similarly, chat with some of the teachers and ask what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they hold.
Flexible Class Schedules. Many people learn a new trade while still working at their present job. Confirm that the class schedules for the schools you are reviewing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Trussville AL, make certain that the schools you are assessing offer those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, confirm that the school you pick offers part-time enrollment. Also, check to see what the policy is to make up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family emergencies.
Find the Best Trussville Welding Program for Certification
Choosing the ideal welder training program will undoubtedly be the most critical decision you will make to start your new profession. As we have covered in this article, there are a number of factors that you will need to evaluate and compare among the programs you are reviewing. It's a prerequisite that any welder training that you are evaluating includes a considerable amount of hands-on training. Classes need to be small in size and every student should have their personal welding machine to train on. Classroom education should offer a real-world context, and the course of study should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Programs vary in duration and the type of credential offered, so you will have to ascertain what length of program and degree or certificate will best serve your needs. Each training program offers different options for certification also. Perhaps The ideal way to research your final list of schools is to visit each campus and talk with the teachers and students. Invest some time to sit in on a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the program you decide on is the best one for you. With the right training, effort and commitment, the final outcome will be a new trade as a professional welder in Trussville AL.