How to Pick the Right Welder Certificate Program near Tuscumbia Alabama
Locating the right welding technical school near Tuscumbia AL is an important first step to starting your new career as a professional welder. But since there are so many schools to pick from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more significantly, once you have narrowed down your choices, how do you select the best one? Most people begin by checking out the schools that are nearest to their homes. When they have identified those that are within driving distance, they are drawn toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and tuition cost are important considerations 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 trade school to become a welder, it's prudent to develop a list of qualifications that your chosen school must have. But before we examine 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 get training as a welder in a trade or vocational school. You can earn a a certificate, a diploma or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are available in Welding Engineering or Welding Technology, but are more advanced programs than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also offered combined with an apprenticeship program. Following are short descriptions of the most typical welding programs available in the Tuscumbia AL area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are usually made available by trade and technical schools and require about 1 year to finish. They are more hands-on training in scope, created primarily to develop welding skills. They can provide a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or supplemental skills for experienced welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take two years to finish and are usually offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology offers a more extensive education than the certificate or diploma while still providing the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
A number of municipalities and states do have licensing prerequisites for welders, therefore make sure to check for your location of future employment. As needed, the welder school you select should prepare you for any licensing exams that you will have to take in addition to supplying the suitable training to become a professional welder.
Welder Certification Options
There are various organizations that offer welding certifications, which test the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Many Tuscumbia AL employers not only expect a degree or certificate from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a highly regarded organization such as the American Welding Society (AWS). Different certifications are available based upon the type of work that the welder performs. Just some of the things that certification can acknowledge are the welder's ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with certain metal thicknesses
- Work with specific kinds of welds
- Work based on contract specifications
As already stated, many cities, states or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those mandating licensing, many also require certification for various kinds of work. Certification is also a means to demonstrate to employers that you are an extremely skilled and qualified welder. So just as with licensing, check the requirements for your local area and make sure that the welding technical school you decide on prepares you for certification if needed.
Subjects to Ask Welder Vocational Schools
As soon as you have chosen the credential you want to obtain, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can start to assess schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are a large number of welding trade and technical schools in the Tuscumbia AL area. That's why it's important to determine in advance what qualifications your selected school must have. We have already discussed a couple of significant ones that most 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 considered. After all, the program you select is going to furnish the education that will be the foundation of your new career as a welder. So following are some additional factors you may want to evaluate 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 agency. There are two standard kinds of accreditation. The school may earn Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a single program the school offers, such as Welding Technology. So confirm that the program you choose is accredited, not just the school itself. Also, 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). In addition to helping ensure that you obtain an excellent education, the accreditation may also help in securing financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases not offered in Tuscumbia AL for non-accredited schools. Finally, for those states or local governments that mandate licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited also.
Apprenticeship and Job Placement Programs. Numerous welder degree or certificate programs are offered combined with an apprenticeship program. Some other schools will assist in placing you in a job or an apprenticeship upon graduation. Find out if the schools you are looking at help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. The schools should have associations with local unions and other metal working businesses to which they can refer their students. More established schools may have a more substantial network of graduates that they can utilize for placements. These programs can assist students in finding employment and establish 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 finish it. It's essential that the welding program you choose has a high completion rate. A low rate might indicate that the students who enrolled in the program were unhappy with the training, the instructors, or the facilities, and dropped out. The job placement rate is also an indication of the caliber of training. A high job placement rate will not only affirm that the program has a good reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of Tuscumbia AL contacts to help students obtain apprenticeships or employment upon graduation.
Modern Equipment and Facilities. After you have limited your selection of welder programs 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 modern. In particular, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be using 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. Otherwise, ask a local Tuscumbia AL welding contractor if they can give you a few tips.
School Location. Although we previously briefly talked about the significance of location, there are a couple of additional points that we need to deal with. You should keep in mind that unless you can move, the welding school you select must be within driving distance of your Tuscumbia AL home. If you do choose to attend an out-of-state school, apart from moving costs there could be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially true for welder 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 local community. So the location of the school should be in a region or state where you subsequently will want to work.
Smaller Classes. Individualized training is important for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's possible to be lost in larger classes and not obtain much one-on-one training. Ask what the typical class size is for the welding schools you are looking at. Ask if you can attend a couple of classes so that you can see how much individual attention the students are getting. While there, speak with some of the students and get their opinions. Also, talk with some of the teachers and find out what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they have earned.
Flexible Class Schedules. Lots of folks learn a new trade while still employed at their present job. Make sure that the class schedules for the schools 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 Tuscumbia AL, verify that the schools you are reviewing offer those options. If you can only enroll part-time, confirm that the school you pick offers part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the protocol is to make up classes if you you miss any due to work, sickness or family responsibilities.
Choose the Best Tuscumbia Welding School for Certification
Selecting the right welding training program will probably be the most important decision you will make to begin your new profession. As we have discussed in this article, there are many things that you will need to assess and compare among the schools you are looking at. It's a necessity that any welder school that you are examining includes a lot of hands-on training. Classes need to be small in size and each student should have their personal welding machine to train on. Classroom instruction should provide a real-world context, and the course of study should be current and in-line with industry standards. Training programs differ in duration and the type of credential offered, so you will need to determine what length of program and degree or certificate will best fulfill your needs. Each training program offers unique possibilities for certification also. Perhaps the best approach to research your short list of schools is to go to each campus and speak with the faculty and students. Invest some time to sit in on a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the training program you pick is the ideal one for you. With the proper training, effort and commitment, the final result will be a new occupation as a professional welder in Tuscumbia AL.