How to Enroll In the Best Welder Certification Classes near Valley Alabama
Selecting the ideal welder technical school near Valley AL is an essential first step to beginning 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 importantly, once you have narrowed down your options, how do you select the right one? Most people begin by reviewing the schools that are nearest to their homes. When they have found those that are within commuting distance, they gravitate toward the least expensive one. Yes, location and tuition cost are important concerns when evaluating welder 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 wise to establish 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 Courses
There are a number of options available to get training as a welder in a technical or trade school. You can earn 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 offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Below are short descriptions of the most common welding programs offered in the Valley AL area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are normally made available by technical and trade schools and require about 1 year to complete. They are more hands-on training in scope, created primarily 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 offers a more extensive education than the diploma or certificate while still providing the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
Some municipalities and states do have licensing prerequisites for welders, so make sure to find out for your location of potential employment. As required, the welder school you select should ready you for any licensing exams that you will need to take in addition to providing the suitable training to become a qualified welder.
Welding Certification Alternatives
There are multiple institutions that provide welder certifications, which evaluate the skill level and knowledge of those applying. A large number of Valley AL employers not only expect a certificate or degree 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 on the kind of work that the welder performs. A few of the things that certification can attest to are the welder's ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specific metal thicknesses
- Work with specific types of welds
- Work in compliance with contract specifications
As already mentioned, various cities, states or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those mandating licensing, many additionally require certification for different kinds of work. Certification is also a way to demonstrate to employers that you are an extremely skilled and qualified welder. So just as with licensing, look into the requirements for your local area and make sure that the welder trade school you select preps you for certification as needed.
Points to Ask Welder Tech Schools
When you have chosen the credential you would like to earn, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can begin to assess schools. As you can imagine, there are a large number of welder vocational and trade schools in the Valley AL area. That's why it's important to determine in advance what qualifications your chosen school must have. We have already discussed a couple of important ones that many people look at first, which are location and tuition cost. As mentioned, although they are very important 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 profession as a welder. So below are some additional factors you might want to consider before choosing a welder technical school.
Accreditation. It's essential that the welding tech school you choose is accredited by either a regional or a national agency. There are 2 standard types of accreditation. The school may earn Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on an individual program the school has, for example Welding Technology. So confirm 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). Besides helping make sure that you obtain a quality education, the accreditation might also help in getting financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not offered in Valley AL for non-accredited schools. Also, for those states or municipalities that mandate licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited as well.
Job Assistance and Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of welder degree or certificate programs are provided in conjunction 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 considering help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. These schools must have relationships 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 utilize for referrals. These programs can help students find employment and establish associations within the Valley 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 crucial that the welder program you choose has a high completion rate. A lower rate could signify that the students who were in the program were unhappy with the instruction, the instructors, 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 verify that the program has an excellent reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of Valley AL employer relationships to help students obtain apprenticeships or employment after graduation.
Up-to-date Facilities and Equipment. After you have narrowed down your choice of welder programs to two or three possibilities, you should consider going to the campuses to look over their facilities. Confirm that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are modern. Specifically, the training equipment should be comparable to what you will be using in the field. 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 Valley AL welding contractor if they can give you some tips.
School Location. Even though we already briefly talked about the importance of location, there are a couple of additional issues that we should cover. You should bear in mind that unless you can relocate, the welding program you choose must be within commuting distance of your Valley AL home. If you do choose to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to 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 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 an area or state where you subsequently will wish to work.
Smaller Classes. Personalized instruction is important for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's easy to get lost in larger classes and not obtain much one-on-one training. Find out what the typical class size is for the welding schools you are reviewing. Ask if you can attend some classes so that you can observe how much individual attention the students are receiving. While there, talk with several of the students and get their evaluations. Also, chat with some of the trainers and find out what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they hold.
Convenient Class Scheduling. Some people learn a new profession while still working at their present job. Check to see that the class schedules for the schools you are reviewing are convenient enough to satisfy your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Valley AL, make sure that the schools you are assessing offer those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you choose offers part-time enrollment. Also, check to see what the policy is to make up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family responsibilities.
Find the Right Valley Welding Course for Certification
Selecting the right welder training program will probably be the most important decision you will make to start your new career. As we have covered in this article, there are a number of things that you will need to evaluate and compare between the programs you are reviewing. It's a must that any welder training that you are examining includes a lot of hands-on instruction. Classes should be small in size and every student must have their own welding machine to train on. Classroom teaching should provide a real-world perspective, and the training program should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Training programs differ in duration and the kind of credential offered, so you will need to decide what length of program and certificate or degree will best satisfy your needs. Every training program offers different possibilities for certification as well. Perhaps the best means to research your short list of schools is to go to each campus and speak with the students and instructors. Invest some time to attend a few classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the training program you decide on is the right one for you. With the proper training, effort and commitment, the final outcome will be a new trade as a professional welder in Valley AL.