How to Enroll In the Best Welding Certification Classes near Tuscaloosa Alabama
Choosing the right welder trade school near Tuscaloosa AL is an important 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 know which ones to consider? And more significantly, once you have fine tuned your alternatives, how do you pick the right one? A number of people begin by checking out the schools that are closest to their residences. Once they have located those that are within driving distance, they are drawn toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are crucial considerations when examining welding vocational schools, but they are not the only ones. Other considerations include such things as reputation, accreditation and job placement rates. So before initiating your search for a trade school to become a welder, it's sensible to develop a list of qualifications that your selected school must have. But before we explore our due diligence checklist, let's cover a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welding Certificate and Degree Training
There are several options available to obtain training as a welder in a trade or vocational school. You can receive a a certificate, a diploma or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are offered in Welding Technology or Welding Engineering, but are more advanced programs than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Following are short summaries of the most typical welding programs available in the Tuscaloosa AL area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are usually offered by trade and technical schools and take about one year to finish. They are more hands-on training in scope, designed mainly to develop welding skills. They can provide a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or supplemental skills for working 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 well-rounded education than the diploma or certificate while still furnishing the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
Some municipalities and states do have licensing requirements for welders, therefore make sure to find out for your location of future employment. As required, the welder school you choose should ready you for any licensing exams that you will need to take in addition to furnishing the proper training to become a professional welder.
Welding Certification Choices
There are various organizations that provide welding certifications, which evaluate the knowledge and skill level of those applying. A large number of Tuscaloosa AL employers not only expect a certificate or degree from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a highly regarded organization like the American Welding Society (AWS). A wide range of certifications are available dependent on the type of work that the welder does. Some of the things that certification can attest to are the welder's ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specified metal thicknesses
- Work with various kinds of welds
- Operate according to contract specifications
As previously mentioned, many cities, states or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those requiring licensing, a number additionally require certification for different types of work. Certification is also a way to demonstrate to employers that you are an extremely skilled and experienced welder. So just as with licensing, look into the requirements for your location and confirm that the welder trade school you decide on readies you for certification if needed.
Subjects to Ask Welding Tech Schools
After you have chosen the credential you want to obtain, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can start to evaluate schools. As you can imagine, there are a large number of welding vocational and trade schools in the Tuscaloosa AL area. That's why it's essential to decide in advance what qualifications your chosen school must have. We have already covered a couple of significant ones that many people look at 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 school you select is going to furnish the training 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 welder tech school.
Accreditation. It's very important that the welder tech school you decide on is accredited by either a national or a regional agency. There are 2 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. Additionally, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, like the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). In addition to helping ensure that you get a quality education, the accreditation might also assist in acquiring 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.
Apprenticeship and Job Assistance Programs. Numerous welding degree or certificate 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 looking at assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. The schools should have partnerships with local unions and other metal working businesses to which they can place 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 establish associations within the Tuscaloosa AL welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that start an educational program and finish it. It's important that the welding program you select has a high completion rate. A reduced rate could signify that the students who enrolled in the program were unhappy with the instruction, 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 confirm that the school has a good reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of Tuscaloosa AL contacts to help students obtain employment or apprenticeships upon graduation.
Modern Equipment and Facilities. Once you have limited your choice of welder programs to 2 or 3 possibilities, you should think out going to the campuses to evaluate 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 comparable to what you will be working with on the job. If you are unsure 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 Tuscaloosa AL welding contractor if they can give you a few tips.
School Location. Although we already briefly talked about the relevance of location, there are a few additional points that we need to cover. You should keep in mind that unless you are able to move, the welding program you select must be within driving distance of your Tuscaloosa AL home. If you do decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides relocation expenses there may be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly true for welding diploma programs offered by community colleges. Additionally, if the school offers an apprenticeship or job placement 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 desire to work.
Smaller Classes. Personalized training is essential for a manual trade such as welding. It's possible to get overlooked in larger classes and not obtain much individualized training. Find out what the average class size is for the welder schools you are reviewing. Ask if you can attend a few classes so that you can witness just how much individual attention the students are receiving. While there, speak with some of the students and get their opinions. Similarly, chat with a few of the teachers and find out what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they hold.
Convenient Class Scheduling. Some 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 flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Tuscaloosa AL, make certain that the schools you are considering offer those alternatives. If you can only enroll part-time, make certain that the school you pick offers part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the protocol is to make up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family circumstances.
Find the Right Tuscaloosa Welding Training for Certification
Selecting the best welder training program will undoubtedly be the most important decision you will make to begin your new profession. As we have addressed in this article, there are several factors that you will need to examine and compare among the schools you are considering. It's a must that any welder training that you are examining includes a lot of hands-on instruction. Classes should be small in size and each student should have their own welding machine to train with. Classroom teaching needs to offer a real-world context, and the curriculum should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Programs vary in duration and the kind of credential provided, so you will need to determine what length of program and certificate or degree will best fulfill your needs. Each training program provides different possibilities for certification also. Probably the best approach to research your final list of schools is to go to each campus and speak with the students and instructors. Invest some time to attend a few classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the program you choose is the ideal one for you. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, the final result will be a new career as a professional welder in Tuscaloosa AL.