How to Enroll In the Right Welding Trade School near Trussville Alabama
Enrolling in the right welding vocational school near Trussville AL is an essential first step to beginning your new career as a professional welder. But since there are a lot of schools to choose from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more importantly, once you have narrowed down your options, how do you pick the best one? Many prospective students begin by checking out the schools that are closest to their residences. Once they have identified those that are within driving distance, they gravitate toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and tuition cost are important issues when reviewing welding vocational schools, but they are not the only ones. Other factors 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 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
There are multiple alternatives available to get training as a welder in a trade or technical school. You can earn a diploma, a certificate or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are offered in Welding Engineering or Welding Technology, but are more advanced degrees than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Below are short summaries of the most prevalent welding programs available in the Trussville AL area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are usually made available by technical and trade schools and take about one year to finish. They are more hands-on training in scope, created largely to develop welding skills. They can provide a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or additional skills for working welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take 2 years to finish and are usually offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology provides a more well-rounded education than the diploma or certificate while still furnishing the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
Some states and municipalities do have licensing requirements for welders, therefore don't forget to find out for your location of potential employment. If required, the welder school you pick should prep you for any licensing exams that you will have to take in addition to providing the suitable training to become a professional welder.
Welding Certification Options
There are various organizations that offer welding certifications, which evaluate 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 highly regarded organization like the American Welding Society (AWS). A variety of certifications are offered based 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 specific metal thicknesses
- Work with various types of welds
- Work based on contract specifications
As previously stated, some states, cities or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those calling for licensing, many also require certification for various kinds of work. Certification is also a means to demonstrate to employers that you are a highly skilled and experienced welder. So similarly as with licensing, check the requirements for your location and confirm that the welding tech school you decide on preps you for certification as needed.
Points to Ask Welder Vocational Programs
When you have decided on the credential you want to obtain, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can begin to assess schools. As you can imagine, there are numerous welder trade and technical schools in the Trussville AL area. That's why it's essential to decide in advance what qualifications your chosen school must have. We have previously covered two important ones that many people look at first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As mentioned, although they are very important qualifications, they are not the only ones that should be looked at. After all, the program you pick is going to provide the instruction that will be the foundation of your new vocation as a welder. So below are more factors you might want to consider before picking a welder trade school.
Accreditation. It's very important that the welder technical school you choose is accredited by either a national or a regional agency. There are two basic kinds of accreditation. The school may attain Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a specific program the school offers, such as Welding Technology. So make sure that the program you select is accredited, not just the school alone. Also, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, such as the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping ensure that you receive a superior education, the accreditation can also assist in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently not offered in Trussville AL for non-accredited schools. Also, for those states or municipalities that mandate licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited also.
Apprenticeship and Job Placement Programs. Many welding diploma or degree programs are offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Other schools will assist in placing you in an apprenticeship or a job upon graduation. Find out if the schools you are reviewing help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance 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 Trussville AL welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that enroll in an educational program and complete it. It's crucial that the welder program you select has a high completion rate. A low rate could signify that the students who were in the program were unhappy with the instruction, the instructors, or the facilities, and dropped out. The job placement rate is also a good indicator of the quality of training. A high job placement rate will not only affirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of Trussville AL employer relationships to assist students obtain employment or apprenticeships upon graduation.
Modern Equipment and Facilities. Once you have decreased your choice of welder schools to 2 or 3 possibilities, you should consider going to the campuses to inspect their facilities. Verify that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be instructed on are up-to-date. Specifically, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be using 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 contractor if they can give you a few pointers.
School Location. Although we already briefly covered the importance of location, there are a couple of additional issues that we should cover. You should keep in mind that unless you can relocate, the welder program you pick must be within driving distance of your Trussville AL home. If you do decide to enroll in 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 welding diploma programs offered by community colleges. Also, if the school provides a job placement or apprenticeship program, more than 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 desire to work.
Smaller Classes. Individualized training is essential for a manual trade such as welding. It's possible to get overlooked in bigger classes and not receive much individualized training. Ask what the typical class size is for the welding schools you are looking at. Ask if you can attend some classes so that you can see how much individual attention the students are getting. While there, speak with a few of the students and get their opinions. Similarly, chat with some of the trainers and find out what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they have earned.
Flexible Class Scheduling. Many people learn a new profession while still working at their current job. Make sure that the class schedules for the programs 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 Trussville AL, make certain that the schools you are considering provide those alternatives. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you choose offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the protocol is to make up classes if you you miss any due to illness, work or family responsibilities.
Choose the Right Trussville Welding School for Certification
Picking the ideal welder training program will probably be the most important decision you will make to launch your new career. As we have covered in this article, there are several factors that you will need to assess and compare between the programs you are looking at. It's a prerequisite that any welding training program that you are assessing includes a considerable amount of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be smaller in size and each student must have their personal welding machine to train with. Classroom instruction should provide a real-world frame of reference, and the training program should be current and conform with industry standards. Courses vary in length and the kind of credential offered, so you will have to determine what length of program and degree or certificate will best serve your needs. Every training program provides different possibilities for certification as well. Perhaps the best means to research your short list of schools is to check out each campus and speak with the students and instructors. Take the time to sit in on some classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the training program you select is the best one for you. With the right training, hard work and commitment, the end outcome will be a new career as a professional welder in Trussville AL.