How to Choose the Best Welder Certification Program near Trussville Alabama
Enrolling in the ideal welding school near Trussville AL is an important first step to launching your new career as a professional welder. But since there are a lot of schools to pick from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more importantly, once you have narrowed down your options, how do you select the best one? Many people start by looking at the schools that are closest to their homes. When they have located those that are within commuting distance, they are drawn toward the least costly one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are important concerns when evaluating welding technical schools, but they are not the only ones. Other concerns include such things as reputation, accreditation and job placement rates. So before beginning your search for a vocational school to become a welder, it's wise to develop 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.
Welder Degree and Certificate Training Classes
There are several alternatives available to receive 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 programs than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Below are short explanations of the most typical welding programs available in the Trussville AL area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are generally made available by technical and trade schools and require about 1 year to finish. They are more hands-on training in scope, created mainly to develop welding skills. They can provide 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 most often offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology offers a more extensive education than the diploma or certificate while still supplying the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
A number of municipalities and states do have licensing prerequisites for welders, so make sure to find out for your location of potential employment. If required, the welder school you pick should prepare you for any licensing exams that you will need to pass in addition to furnishing the appropriate training to become a professional welder.
Welder Certification Choices
There are a number of institutions that offer welding certifications, which assess the skill level and knowledge of those applying. A large number of Trussville AL employers not only expect a certificate or degree from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a respected agency like the American Welding Society (AWS). Different certifications are available dependent on the kind of work that the welder does. Just 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 specific kinds of welds
- Operate in compliance with contract specifications
As previously mentioned, some cities, states or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those mandating licensing, some additionally require certification for different kinds of work. Certification is also a way to prove to employers that you are an exceptionally skilled and experienced welder. So just as with licensing, look into the requirements for your local area and make sure that the welding trade school you decide on readies you for certification if needed.
Topics to Ask Welding Vocational Schools
Once you have chosen the credential you would like to attain, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can start to assess schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are many welding trade and vocational schools in the Trussville AL area. That's why it's essential to decide in advance what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have already covered two significant ones that many people look at first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As stated, although they are very important qualifications, they are not the only ones that should be considered. 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 want to consider before selecting a welder technical school.
Accreditation. It's very important that the welder trade school you pick is accredited by either a regional or a national organization. There are two basic kinds of accreditation. The school may receive Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a single program the school offers, for instance Welding Technology. So make certain that the program you pick is accredited, not just the school itself. Additionally, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, such as the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping ensure that you obtain an excellent education, the accreditation can also help in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases not offered in Trussville 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. A large number of welder degree or certificate programs are provided in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Other schools will help place you in an apprenticeship or a job upon graduation. Ask if the schools you are considering help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. The schools must have relationships with local unions and various metal working businesses to which they can refer their students. Older schools may have a more substantial network of graduates that they can utilize for placements. These programs can assist students in finding employment and develop relationships within the Trussville AL welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that start an instructional program and finish it. It's crucial that the welding school you select has a higher completion rate. A low rate might mean that the students who enrolled in the program were dissatisfied with the instruction, 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 confirm that the program has an excellent reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of Trussville AL contacts to help students secure apprenticeships or employment upon graduation.
Up-to-date Facilities and Equipment. Once you have limited your choice of welder schools to two or three possibilities, you should consider visiting the campuses to evaluate their facilities. Verify that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be instructed on are modern. Specifically, the training equipment should be comparable to what you will be working with on the job. If you are not sure 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 Trussville AL welding professional if they can give you some tips.
School Location. Even though we already briefly talked about the importance of location, there are a few additional points that we should address. You should keep in mind that unless you have the ability to relocate, the welding school you choose needs to be within commuting distance of your Trussville AL home. If you do opt to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there might be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly true 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 needs to be in a region or state where you subsequently will desire to work.
Smaller Classes. Individualized training is essential for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's easy to get overlooked in larger classes and not obtain much individualized training. Ask what the typical class size is for the welding schools you are looking at. Inquire if you can sit in on some classes so that you can observe how much individual attention the students are getting. While there, talk with some of the students and get their evaluations. Also, talk to a couple of the trainers and ask what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they have earned.
Flexible Class Scheduling. Lots of folks learn a new profession while still working at their current job. Confirm that the class schedules for the schools you are looking at are convenient enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Trussville AL, verify that the schools you are reviewing offer those options. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, confirm that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the protocol is to make up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family circumstances.
Find the Right Trussville Welding Program for Certification
Picking the right welder school will undoubtedly be the most critical decision you will make to begin your new career. As we have addressed in this article, there are several things that you will need to evaluate and compare between the programs you are looking at. It's a must that any welder school that you are assessing includes a good deal of hands-on training. Classes should be small in size and each student should have their own welding machine to train on. Classroom teaching needs to provide a real-world context, and the training program should be current and in-line with industry standards. Training programs differ in duration and the kind of credential offered, so you will need to decide what length of program and degree or certificate will best satisfy your needs. Each training program provides unique possibilities for certification as well. Perhaps the best means to research your short list of schools is to go to each campus and speak with the faculty and students. Invest some time to attend a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the school you select is the ideal one for you. With the proper training, effort and dedication, the final result will be a new career as a professional welder in Trussville AL.