How to Enroll In the Best Welding Certification Course near Tuscumbia Alabama
Finding the right welding technical school near Tuscumbia AL is an essential first step to starting your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are a lot of schools to pick from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more significantly, once you have narrowed down your alternatives, how do you select the right one? Many people begin by reviewing the schools that are closest to their homes. When they have found those that are within driving distance, they are drawn toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are necessary concerns when evaluating welding vocational 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 prudent to create a list of qualifications that your chosen school must have. But before we delve into our due diligence checklist, let's talk a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welder Degree and Certificate Training Programs
There are multiple options to get training as a welder in a trade or vocational school. You can earn a diploma, a certificate or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are available in Welding Engineering or Welding Technology, but are more advanced degrees than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available along with an apprenticeship program. Following are short explanations of the most prevalent welding programs offered in the Tuscumbia AL area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are generally offered by trade and technical schools and require about a year to finish. They are more hands-on training in scope, designed primarily to develop welding skills. They can furnish a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or additional 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 provides a more well-rounded education than the diploma or certificate while still supplying the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
A number of states and municipalities do have licensing prerequisites for welders, therefore be sure to find out for your location of potential employment. As needed, the welding school you pick should ready you for any licensing exams that you will need to take in addition to furnishing the proper training to become a qualified welder.
Welding Certification Alternatives
There are several institutions that offer welder 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 program, but also certification from a respected agency like the American Welding Society (AWS). A wide range of certifications are offered dependent on the type of work that the welder performs. A few of the skills that certification can attest to are the welder's ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with certain metal thicknesses
- Work with various types of welds
- Operate in compliance with contract specifications
As previously stated, many states, cities or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those calling for licensing, many additionally require certification for different types of work. Certification is also a way to demonstrate to employers that you are an exceptionally skilled and qualified welder. So just as with licensing, look into the requirements for your location and make sure that the welding technical school you choose prepares you for certification as needed.
What to Ask Welding Trade Programs
As soon as you have decided on the credential you would like to attain, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can begin to compare schools. As you can imagine, there are a large number of welder vocational and trade schools in the Tuscumbia AL area. That's why it's essential to decide up front what qualifications your chosen school must have. We have already covered a couple of important ones that most people consider first, which are location and tuition cost. As stated, although they are very important qualifications, they are not the only ones that need to be considered. After all, the school you select is going to furnish the instruction that will be the foundation of your new career as a welder. So below are more factors you might want to consider before choosing a welder tech school.
Accreditation. It's extremely important that the welder trade school you pick 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 a single program the school offers, for example Welding Technology. So confirm that the program you choose is accredited, not just the school itself. Additionally, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, 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 might also help in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently unavailable in Tuscumbia AL for non-accredited schools. Finally, for those states or municipalities that require licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited also.
Apprenticeship and Job Assistance Programs. Numerous welder degree or certificate programs are provided in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Some other schools will assist in placing you in a job or an apprenticeship upon graduation. Ask if the schools you are reviewing assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. These schools should have partnerships with local unions and various 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 develop associations within the Tuscumbia AL welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that start an academic program and finish it. It's important that the welder school you choose has a high completion rate. A reduced rate may signify that the students who joined the program were dissatisfied with the training, the instructors, or the facilities, and quit. The job placement rate is also an indication of the quality of training. A higher job placement rate will not only verify that the school has a good reputation within the trade, but additionally that it has the network of Tuscumbia AL employer relationships to assist students secure apprenticeships or employment after graduation.
Up-to-date Equipment and Facilities. Once you have decreased your selection of welding schools to two or three options, you should think out going to 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. Specifically, the training equipment should be comparable to what you will be using in the field. If you are not sure what to look for, and are already in an apprenticeship program, consult with the master welder you are working under for guidance. If not, ask a local Tuscumbia AL welding professional if they can give you some tips.
School Location. Even though we previously briefly talked about the importance of location, there are a couple of additional issues that we should cover. You should keep in mind that unless you are able to relocate, the welding school you choose needs to be within driving distance of your Tuscumbia AL home. If you do opt to attend an out-of-state school, besides relocation expenses there could be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially the case for welding degree 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 needs to be in a region or state where you ultimately will wish to work.
Smaller Classes. One-on-one instruction is important for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's possible to get overlooked in larger classes and not receive much one-on-one instruction. Ask what the average class size is for the welder schools you are reviewing. Ask if you can sit in on a few classes so that you can witness just how much personal attention the students are getting. While there, speak with a few of the students and get their opinions. Also, talk with a couple of the teachers and find out what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they have earned.
Convenient Class Scheduling. Some people learn a new profession while still employed at their current job. Check to see that the class schedules for the schools you are reviewing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Tuscumbia AL, confirm that the schools you are reviewing provide those alternatives. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you choose offers part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the policy is to make up classes if you you miss any due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
Choose the Right Tuscumbia Welding Program for Certification
Selecting the ideal welding training program will probably be the most critical decision you will make to start your new career. As we have covered in this article, there are many things that you will need to evaluate and compare between the schools you are reviewing. It's a prerequisite that any welding training that you are assessing includes a lot of hands-on training. Classes should be smaller in size and each student must have their own welding machine to train on. Classroom instruction should offer a real-world frame of reference, and the course of study should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Courses vary in duration and the type of credential offered, so you will have to determine what length of program and certificate or degree will best satisfy your needs. Every program provides different options for certification also. Probably the best approach to research your short list of schools is to check out each campus and speak with the students and instructors. Take the time to attend some classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the program you choose is the best one for you. With the right training, effort and dedication, the end outcome will be a new occupation as a professional welder in Tuscumbia AL.