How to Enroll In the Right Welding Degree Program near Tuscumbia Alabama
Finding the ideal welding technical school near Tuscumbia AL is an important first step to launching your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are numerous schools to select from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more importantly, once you have narrowed down your alternatives, how do you select the right one? Many prospective students start by checking out the schools that are nearest to their homes. Once they have located those that are within driving distance, they gravitate toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are important issues when examining welding technical schools, but they are not the only ones. Other considerations include such things as reputation, accreditation and job placement rates. So before starting your search for a trade school to become a welder, it's wise to develop a list of qualifications that your selected 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 Degree and Certificate Training
There are multiple alternatives 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 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. Following are brief descriptions of the most typical welding programs offered in the Tuscumbia AL area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are usually made available by trade and technical schools and take about a year to finish. They are more hands-on training in nature, created primarily to teach welding skills. They can furnish a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or supplemental 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 furnishes a more extensive education than the certificate or diploma while still furnishing the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
A number of states and municipalities do have licensing requirements for welders, so be sure to check for your location of future employment. As needed, the welder school you choose should prepare you for any licensing exams that you will have to pass in addition to providing the proper training to become a qualified welder.
Welder Certification Alternatives
There are several organizations that offer welder certifications, which assess the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Many Tuscumbia AL employers not only require a certificate or degree from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a renowned organization like the American Welding Society (AWS). A variety of certifications are offered dependent on the kind of work that the welder does. 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 certain kinds of welds
- Operate according to contract specifications
As earlier stated, some states, cities or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those calling for licensing, many additionally require certification for various types of work. Certification is also a way to prove to employers that you are a highly skilled and experienced welder. So similarly as with licensing, check the requirements for your local area and make sure that the welding trade school you choose prepares you for certification if needed.
Points to Ask Welding Technical Schools
When you have decided on the credential you want to earn, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can start to assess schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are numerous welding trade and technical schools in the Tuscumbia AL area. That's why it's important to determine up front what qualifications your school of choice 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 essential qualifiers, they are not the only ones that should be considered. After all, the program you choose is going to furnish the training that will be the foundation of your new career as a welder. So below are more factors you might want to evaluate before selecting a welder tech school.
Accreditation. It's extremely important that the welding tech school you pick is accredited by either a regional or a national 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 instance Welding Technology. So make sure 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 agency, like the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). In addition to helping make sure that you get a superior education, the accreditation may also assist in securing financial aid or student loans, which are frequently unavailable in Tuscumbia AL for non-accredited schools. Also, for those states or municipalities that require licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited also.
Job Placement and Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous welder certificate or degree programs are provided combined with an apprenticeship program. Some other schools will help place you in an apprenticeship or a job upon graduation. Ask if the schools you are reviewing help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. These schools should have partnerships 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 placements. These programs can help students find employment and develop associations within the Tuscumbia 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 finish it. It's essential that the welder school you choose has a high completion rate. A reduced rate could signify that the students who were in the program were unhappy with the training, the teachers, or the facilities, and quit. The job placement rate is also an indication of the quality of training. A high job placement rate will not only verify that the program has an excellent reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of Tuscumbia AL contacts to assist students secure apprenticeships or employment upon graduation.
Modern Facilities and Equipment. After you have limited your choice of welder schools to two or three possibilities, you should think out visiting the campuses to evaluate their facilities. Verify that both the facilities and the equipment 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 already 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 some pointers.
School Location. Even though we already briefly talked about the relevance of location, there are a couple of additional points that we should deal with. You should remember that unless you are able to relocate, the welding program you choose must be within driving distance of your Tuscumbia AL home. If you do opt to attend an out-of-state school, apart from relocation costs there might 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 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 subsequently will desire to work.
Smaller Classes. Individualized training is important for a manual trade such as welding. It's possible to get overlooked in larger classes and not receive much individualized instruction. Find out what the average class size is for the welding schools you are reviewing. Ask if you can attend a couple of classes so that you can witness just how much individual attention the students are getting. While there, talk with some of the students and get their feedback. Similarly, talk with some of the teachers and ask what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they hold.
Flexible Class Scheduling. Lots of folks learn a new trade while still employed at their current job. Make sure that the class schedules for the schools you are looking at are flexible enough to satisfy your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Tuscumbia AL, verify that the schools you are reviewing offer those choices. If you can only attend part-time, verify that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the policy is to make up classes should you miss any due to illness, work or family circumstances.
Find the Right Tuscumbia Welding Program for Certification
Picking the ideal welder training program will undoubtedly be the most critical decision you will make to begin your new career. As we have addressed in this article, there are several things that you will need to examine and compare among the schools you are reviewing. It's a prerequisite that any welder school that you are considering includes a lot 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 course of study should be current and conform with industry standards. Programs differ in length and the kind of credential offered, so you will have to ascertain what length of program and certificate or degree will best serve your needs. Every training program provides different options for certification as well. Probably the best way to research your final list of schools is to check out each campus and speak with the faculty and students. Invest some time to attend some classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the training program you decide on is the ideal one for you. With the proper training, hard work and dedication, the final outcome will be a new occupation as a professional welder in Tuscumbia AL.