How to Select the Best Welder Training Classes near Tuscaloosa Alabama
Enrolling in the ideal welder technical school near Tuscaloosa AL is an essential first step to beginning your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are a lot of schools to select from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more notably, once you have fine tuned your choices, how do you pick the right one? Most people start by reviewing the schools that are closest to their residences. When they have identified those that are within driving distance, they gravitate toward the least costly one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are necessary concerns when reviewing welder technical schools, but they are not the only ones. Other factors include such things as accreditation, reputation and job placement rates. So before starting your search for a vocational school to become a welder, it's sensible 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 obtain a a certificate, a diploma or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are available in Welding Engineering or Welding Technology, but are more advanced courses than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Following are short explanations of the most common welding programs available in the Tuscaloosa AL area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are normally offered by trade and technical schools and require about a year to finish. They are more hands-on training in scope, created 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 2 years to complete and are most often offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology provides a more extensive education than the diploma or certificate while still providing the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
Many municipalities and states do have licensing requirements for welders, so make sure to find out for your location of potential employment. If required, the welder school you select should prepare you for any licensing exams that you will need to pass in addition to furnishing the proper training to become a qualified welder.
Welding Certification Options
There are several institutions that offer welder certifications, which test the knowledge and skill level of those applying. Numerous Tuscaloosa AL employers not only demand a certificate or degree from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a renowned agency like the American Welding Society (AWS). A variety of certifications are available based on the kind of work that the welder performs. Some of the things that certification can acknowledge are the welder's ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with certain metal thicknesses
- Work with various types of welds
- Operate according to contract specifications
As already stated, many cities, states or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those calling for licensing, some additionally require certification for various kinds of work. Certification is also a way to demonstrate to employers that you are a highly skilled and experienced welder. So similarly as with licensing, look into the requirements for your local area and make sure that the welder tech school you decide on readies you for certification if needed.
What to Ask Welder Trade Schools
After you have chosen the credential you want to earn, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can begin to compare schools. As you can imagine, there are many welder trade and vocational schools in the Tuscaloosa AL area. That's why it's necessary to decide in advance what qualifications your chosen school must have. We have previously discussed 2 significant ones that many people consider first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As stated, although they are very important qualifiers, they are not the only ones that need to be looked at. After all, the program you select is going to furnish the instruction that will be the foundation of your new career as a welder. So following are more factors you may want to evaluate before selecting a welding tech school.
Accreditation. It's extremely important that the welder vocational school you choose is accredited by either a regional or a national organization. There are 2 standard types of accreditation. The school may earn Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a specific program the school has, for instance Welding Technology. So make certain 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, such as the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping ensure that you obtain a superior education, the accreditation might also assist in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are often not offered in Tuscaloosa AL for non-accredited schools. Also, for those states or municipalities that mandate licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited as well.
Job Assistance and Apprenticeship Programs. Many welder diploma or degree programs are offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Other schools will help place you in a job or an apprenticeship upon graduation. Find out if the schools you are reviewing assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. The schools must have partnerships with local unions and other metal working businesses to which they can place their students. Older schools may have a more substantial network of graduates that they can utilize for referrals. These programs can assist students in finding employment and develop associations within the Tuscaloosa AL welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that begin an instructional program and finish it. It's essential that the welding program you choose has a higher completion rate. A low rate could mean that the students who joined the program were unhappy with the instruction, the teachers, 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 verify that the program has an excellent reputation within the trade, but additionally that it has the network of Tuscaloosa AL employer relationships to help students secure employment or apprenticeships upon graduation.
Modern Facilities and Equipment. After you have limited your choice of welding programs to 2 or 3 possibilities, you should think out visiting the campuses to inspect their facilities. Verify that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be taught on are modern. In particular, the training equipment should be similar 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, ask the master welder you are working under for guidance. If not, ask a local Tuscaloosa AL welding contractor 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 issues that we should cover. You should bear in mind that unless you can relocate, the welder school you pick must be within commuting distance of your Tuscaloosa AL home. If you do decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides moving expenses there could be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially true for welder degree programs offered by community colleges. Furthermore, if the school offers a job placement or apprenticeship program, more than likely their placements are within the school's local community. So the location of the school should be in an area or state where you ultimately will wish to work.
Smaller Classes. Personalized training is important for a manual trade such as welding. It's easy to be overlooked in larger classes and not get much individualized instruction. Find out what the typical class size is for the welding schools you are reviewing. Inquire if you can attend a couple of classes so that you can observe how much individual attention the students are getting. While there, talk with a few of the students and get their feedback. Similarly, speak with a few of the instructors and ask what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they have earned.
Convenient Class Scheduling. Some people learn a new trade while still working at their present job. Confirm that the class schedules for the schools you are considering are convenient enough to satisfy your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Tuscaloosa AL, verify that the schools you are assessing offer those choices. If you can only attend part-time, confirm that the school you pick 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.
Find the Right Tuscaloosa Welding School for Certification
Selecting the best welder school will probably be the most important decision you will make to start your new trade. As we have addressed in this article, there are several things that you will need to examine and compare among the schools you are considering. It's a prerequisite that any welding training that you are evaluating includes a considerable amount of hands-on instruction. Classes should be small in size and each student must have their personal welding machine to train with. Classroom education needs to offer a real-world perspective, and the training program should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Programs vary in length and the kind of credential provided, so you will have to determine what length of program and degree or certificate will best satisfy your needs. Every program provides unique possibilities for certification also. Probably The ideal means to research your short list of schools is to go to each campus and talk with the faculty and students. Take the time to monitor some 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 right training, effort and commitment, the end result will be a new trade as a professional welder in Tuscaloosa AL.