How to Select the Right Welder Certification Program near Tuscumbia Alabama
Locating the ideal welder vocational school near Tuscumbia AL is an essential first step to launching your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are numerous schools to pick from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more significantly, once you have narrowed down your alternatives, how do you pick the right one? A number of prospective students start by looking at the schools that are closest to their homes. Once they have identified those that are within commuting distance, they are drawn toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are necessary concerns when evaluating welding trade schools, but they are not the only ones. Other concerns include such things as accreditation, reputation and job placement rates. So before beginning 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 examine our due diligence checklist, let's talk a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welder Certificate and Degree Training Courses
There are a number of options available to obtain training as a welder in a technical or trade school. You can obtain a diploma, a certificate or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are available in Welding Technology or Welding Engineering, but are more advanced courses than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Below are brief summaries of the most prevalent welding programs offered in the Tuscumbia AL area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are normally offered by technical and trade schools and require about a year to complete. They are more hands-on training in nature, created largely to teach welding skills. They can provide a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or additional skills for experienced welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take 2 years to finish and are most often offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology furnishes a more extensive education than the certificate or diploma while still providing the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
A number of states and municipalities do have licensing requirements for welders, so don't forget to find out for your location of potential employment. If required, the welding school you pick should prep you for any licensing exams that you will have to pass in addition to furnishing the appropriate training to become a qualified welder.
Welding Certification Alternatives
There are a number of institutions that offer welding certifications, which test the knowledge and skill level of those applying. A large number of Tuscumbia AL employers not only require a certificate or degree from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a respected organization like the American Welding Society (AWS). A variety of certifications are available dependent on the kind 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 certain metal thicknesses
- Work with specific kinds of welds
- Operate based on contract specifications
As already mentioned, many cities, states or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those calling for licensing, a number also require certification for various kinds of work. Certification is also a way to prove to employers that you are a highly skilled and knowledgeable welder. So just as with licensing, check the requirements for your local area and make sure that the welder tech school you decide on readies you for certification as needed.
Points to Ask Welder Trade Schools
After you have decided on the credential you want to earn, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can begin to assess schools. As you can imagine, there are a large number of welding trade and vocational schools in the Tuscumbia AL area. That's why it's essential to determine in advance what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have previously covered a couple of significant ones that most people look at first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As stated, although they are essential qualifications, they are not the only ones that need to be considered. After all, the program you choose is going to furnish the instruction that will be the foundation of your new profession as a welder. So below are some additional factors you may want to consider before picking a welder tech school.
Accreditation. It's very important that the welding trade school you select is accredited by either a national or a regional organization. There are two standard kinds of accreditation. The school may attain Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on an individual program the school has, for example Welding Technology. So verify that the program you pick is accredited, not just the school alone. Also, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, such as the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). In addition to helping ensure that you receive an excellent education, the accreditation can also assist in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases not offered in Tuscumbia AL for non-accredited schools. Finally, for those states or municipalities that mandate licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited also.
Apprenticeship and Job Placement Programs. A large number of welding diploma or degree programs are provided in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Various other schools will assist in placing you in an apprenticeship or a job after graduation. Ask if the schools you are considering help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. These schools should have relationships with local unions and other metal working businesses to which they can place their students. Older schools may have a larger network of graduates that they can rely upon for referrals. These programs can assist students in finding employment and develop associations within the Tuscumbia AL welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that begin an educational program and complete it. It's essential that the welder program you select has a higher completion rate. A lower rate may mean that the students who were in 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 caliber of training. A higher job placement rate will not only affirm that the school has a good reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of Tuscumbia AL employer relationships to help students obtain apprenticeships or employment after graduation.
Modern Equipment and Facilities. Once you have decreased your choice of welder schools to two or three options, you should think out visiting the campuses to look over their facilities. Verify that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be trained on are up-to-date. In particular, the training equipment should be comparable to what you will be using on the job. 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 Tuscumbia AL welding contractor if they can give you a few tips.
School Location. Even though we previously briefly covered the relevance of location, there are a few additional issues that we should deal with. You should bear in mind that unless you can relocate, the welder program you pick must be within driving distance of your Tuscumbia AL home. If you do choose to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there may be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly the case for welder diploma programs offered by community colleges. Also, if the school offers a job placement or apprenticeship program, often their placements are within the school's regional community. So the location of the school should be in an area or state where you ultimately will desire to work.
Smaller Classes. Individualized instruction is important for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's easy to be lost in bigger classes and not get much personalized training. Ask what the usual class size is for the welder schools you are reviewing. Ask if you can sit in on a few classes so that you can observe just how much individual attention the students are receiving. While there, talk with some of the students and get their feedback. Also, speak with a couple of the teachers and find out what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they hold.
Convenient Class Schedules. Lots of folks learn a new profession while still employed at their current job. Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are considering are flexible enough to satisfy your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Tuscumbia AL, verify that the schools you are looking at offer those options. If you can only enroll part-time, confirm that the school you decide on offers part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the policy is to make up classes if you you miss any due to illness, work or family circumstances.
Find the Right Tuscumbia Welding Training for Certification
Choosing the ideal welder school will undoubtedly be the most critical decision you will make to begin your new profession. As we have addressed in this article, there are many factors that you will need to assess and compare between the programs you are looking at. It's a prerequisite that any welding training that you are examining includes a considerable amount of hands-on instruction. Classes should be smaller in size and each student must have their personal welding machine to train on. Classroom teaching should offer a real-world frame of reference, and the curriculum 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 determine what length of program and credential will best fulfill your needs. Every training program offers different options for certification as well. Perhaps the best way to research your final list of schools is to check out each campus and talk with the students and instructors. Take the time to attend a few classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the school you choose is the right one for you. With the proper training, hard work and dedication, the final result will be a new occupation as a professional welder in Tuscumbia AL.