How to Select the Best Welding Certification Classes near Tuscumbia Alabama
Finding the right welding technical school near Tuscumbia AL is an essential first step to launching your new career as a professional welder. But since there are a lot of schools to pick from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more notably, once you have fine tuned your alternatives, how do you pick the right one? Most prospective students start by checking out the schools that are closest to their residences. When they have located those that are within commuting distance, they are drawn toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and tuition cost are crucial concerns when evaluating welding vocational schools, but they are not the only ones. Other factors include such things as accreditation, reputation and job placement rates. So before initiating your search for a vocational school to become a welder, it's sensible to establish a list of qualifications that your selected school must have. But before we delve into our due diligence checklist, let's talk a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welding Degree and Certificate Training
There are a number of options available to get training as a welder in a trade or vocational school. You can receive a diploma, a certificate 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 combined with an apprenticeship program. Below are short descriptions of the most common 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 scope, fashioned primarily to teach welding skills. They can furnish a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or specialized 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 well-rounded education than the certificate or diploma while still furnishing the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
Many municipalities and states do have licensing requirements for welders, therefore make sure to check for your location of future employment. As required, the welding school you pick should prepare you for any licensing examinations that you will need to take in addition to furnishing the proper training to become a professional welder.
Welder Certification Choices
There are various institutions that provide welding certifications, which assess the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Many Tuscumbia AL employers not only demand a degree or certificate from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a respected organization such as the American Welding Society (AWS). A wide range of certifications are available dependent on the kind of work that the welder performs. Some of the things that certification can attest to are the welder's ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specified metal thicknesses
- Work with certain kinds of welds
- Perform based on contract specifications
As formerly mentioned, various cities, states or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those calling for licensing, many additionally require certification for various types of work. Certification is also a means to prove to employers that you are a highly skilled and qualified welder. So similarly as with licensing, check the requirements for your location and make certain that the welder vocational school you choose readies you for certification as needed.
Questions to Ask Welder Trade Programs
As soon as you have decided on the credential you would like to obtain, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can start to compare schools. As you probably know, there are numerous welding trade and vocational schools in the Tuscumbia AL area. That's why it's essential to decide in advance what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have previously covered 2 important ones that most people consider first, which are location and tuition cost. As stated, although they are essential qualifiers, they are not the only ones that need to be considered. After all, the program you pick is going to provide the education that will be the foundation of your new career as a welder. So following are more factors you might want to consider before choosing a welder tech school.
Accreditation. It's very important that the welding tech school you select is accredited by either a national or a regional organization. There are 2 standard kinds of accreditation. The school may receive Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a specific program the school has, for instance Welding Technology. So make sure that the program you select is accredited, not just the school itself. Additionally, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, for example the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). In addition to helping make sure that you receive a quality education, the accreditation can also help in getting financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently unavailable in Tuscumbia AL for non-accredited schools. Also, for those states or local governments 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 offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Various other schools will help place you in an apprenticeship or a job after graduation. Ask if the schools you are reviewing help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. The schools must have partnerships with local unions and other metal working businesses to which they can place their students. More established schools may have a more substantial network of graduates that they can rely upon for referrals. 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 instructional program and finish it. It's crucial that the welding school you pick has a higher completion rate. A reduced rate may indicate that the students who joined the program were unhappy with the instruction, the teachers, or the facilities, and quit. The job placement rate is also an indication of the caliber of training. A higher job placement rate will not only confirm that the school has a good reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of Tuscumbia AL contacts to help students secure apprenticeships or employment after graduation.
Up-to-date Facilities and Equipment. Once you have narrowed down your selection of welder schools to 2 or 3 options, you should consider visiting the campuses to look over their facilities. Make sure that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are up-to-date. Specifically, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be using on the job. If you are uncertain what to look for, and are currently in an apprenticeship program, consult with the master welder you are working under for guidance. Otherwise, ask a local Tuscumbia AL welding professional if they can give you some tips.
School Location. Even though we already briefly covered the significance of location, there are a few additional points that we should deal with. You should keep in mind that unless you are able to move, the welder program you select needs to be within driving distance of your Tuscumbia AL home. If you do choose to enroll in 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 welding certificate programs offered by community colleges. Furthermore, if the school provides a job placement or apprenticeship program, more than likely 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. Personalized instruction is important for a manual trade such as welding. It's possible to get lost in bigger classes and not obtain much one-on-one training. Find out what the typical class size is for the welding schools you are reviewing. Inquire if you can sit in on a couple of classes so that you can experience how much personal attention the students are receiving. While there, talk with a few of the students and get their evaluations. Similarly, talk to a couple of the instructors and ask what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they hold.
Flexible Class Schedules. Some people learn a new trade while still working at their current job. Check to see that the class schedules for the schools you are reviewing are flexible enough to satisfy your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Tuscumbia AL, make sure that the schools you are reviewing provide those options. If you can only enroll part-time, verify that the school you pick offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the policy is to make up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
Find the Right Tuscumbia Welding Training for Certification
Picking the right welder training program will probably be the most critical decision you will make to begin your new profession. As we have addressed in this article, there are several things that you will need to examine and compare between the schools you are reviewing. It's a necessity that any welding training program that you are assessing includes a good deal of hands-on training. Classes need to be smaller in size and each student must have their own welding machine to train on. Classroom instruction needs to provide a real-world context, and the course of study should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Training programs differ in duration and the type of credential provided, so you will need to ascertain what length of program and certificate or degree will best satisfy your needs. Every program offers different options for certification also. Perhaps the best way to research your final list of schools is to visit each campus and speak with the students and faculty. Take the time to monitor a few classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the training program you select is the right 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.