How to Enroll In the Best Welder Training Classes near Valley Alabama
Finding the right welding vocational school near Valley AL is an essential first step to beginning your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are numerous schools to pick from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more notably, once you have narrowed down your options, how do you pick the best one? A number of prospective students begin by looking at the schools that are closest to their residences. Once they have identified those that are within commuting distance, they gravitate toward the least costly one. Yes, location and tuition cost are crucial concerns when examining welder trade schools, but they are not the only ones. Other concerns include such things as reputation, accreditation and job placement rates. So before initiating your search for a vocational school to become a welder, it's sensible to create a list of qualifications that your chosen school must have. But before we explore our due diligence checklist, let's talk a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welder Degree and Certificate Training Classes
There are multiple options available to receive training as a welder in a technical or trade school. You can receive a a certificate, a diploma or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are offered in Welding Engineering or Welding Technology, but are more advanced courses than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available combined with an apprenticeship program. Following are brief summaries of the most typical welding programs available in the Valley AL area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are normally offered by trade and technical schools and require about 1 year to finish. They are more hands-on training in scope, created largely 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 most often offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology offers a more extensive education than the certificate or diploma while still furnishing the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
A number of municipalities and states do have licensing requirements for welders, therefore be sure to find out for your location of future employment. As required, the welding school you pick should ready you for any licensing examinations that you will need to pass in addition to supplying the proper training to become a professional welder.
Welder Certification Options
There are a number of institutions that offer welder certifications, which assess the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Many Valley AL employers not only demand a degree or certificate from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a highly regarded agency such as the American Welding Society (AWS). Different certifications are offered based upon the kind of work that the welder performs. Some of the skills that certification can acknowledge are the welder's ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specific metal thicknesses
- Work with certain kinds of welds
- Perform in compliance with contract specifications
As already mentioned, some states, cities 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 way to prove to employers that you are an exceptionally skilled and experienced welder. So just as with licensing, look into the requirements for your local area and confirm that the welder technical school you decide on preps you for certification as needed.
Questions to Ask Welder Tech Programs
When you have decided on the credential you would like to attain, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can start to compare schools. As you can imagine, there are a large number of welding trade and vocational schools in the Valley AL area. That's why it's essential to decide in advance what qualifications your chosen school must have. We have already discussed a couple of important ones that many people consider first, which are location and tuition cost. As mentioned, although they are essential qualifications, they are not the only ones that should be considered. After all, the school you decide on is going to furnish the instruction that will be the foundation of your new vocation as a welder. So below are more factors you might want to evaluate before selecting a welder vocational school.
Accreditation. It's essential that the welding tech school you decide on is accredited by either a regional or a national organization. There are two standard types of accreditation. The school may earn Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a single program the school has, for example Welding Technology. So verify that the program you pick is accredited, not just the school alone. Also, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, for example the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). In addition to helping make sure that you receive an excellent education, the accreditation may also help in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are often not offered in Valley AL for schools that are not accredited. Also, for those states or local governments that require licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited as well.
Job Assistance and Apprenticeship Programs. Many welding degree or diploma 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 reviewing help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. These schools should have relationships with local unions and other metal working businesses to which they can place their students. Older 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 relationships within the Valley AL welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that begin an academic program and complete it. It's important that the welder school you pick has a high completion rate. A low rate could mean that the students who joined the program were dissatisfied with the training, the teachers, or the facilities, and dropped out. The job placement rate is also a good indicator of the caliber of training. A higher 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 Valley AL contacts to assist students secure apprenticeships or employment after graduation.
Up-to-date Equipment and Facilities. After you have limited your choice of welder schools to two or three options, you should consider going to the campuses to look over their facilities. Confirm that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are modern. Specifically, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be working with in the field. If you are not sure 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 Valley AL welding professional if they can give you some tips.
School Location. Although we previously briefly talked about the relevance of location, there are a few additional issues that we need to deal with. You should remember that unless you are able to move, the welding program you select needs to be within driving distance of your Valley AL home. If you do decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides moving expenses there could be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly the case for welding degree programs offered by community colleges. Also, if the school offers a job placement or apprenticeship program, most 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 ultimately will wish to work.
Smaller Classes. Individualized instruction is essential for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's easy to be overlooked in larger classes and not get 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 experience how much individual attention the students are getting. While there, talk with several of the students and get their feedback. Similarly, speak with some of the instructors and find out what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they have earned.
Convenient Class Scheduling. Lots of folks learn a new trade while still working at their present job. Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are convenient enough to satisfy your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Valley AL, verify that the schools you are reviewing offer those alternatives. If you can only attend part-time, confirm that the school you decide on offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the protocol is to make up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Valley Welding Program for Certification
Choosing the best welding school will probably be the most critical decision you will make to launch your new trade. As we have covered in this article, there are several factors that you will need to assess and compare between the programs you are reviewing. It's a prerequisite that any welder training program that you are examining includes a considerable amount of hands-on training. Classes should be smaller in size and every student should have their own welding machine to train with. Classroom education needs to offer a real-world frame of reference, and the training program should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Courses differ in length and the kind of credential offered, so you will need to determine what length of program and certificate or degree will best fulfill your needs. Every training program offers unique options for certification also. Perhaps the best way to research your short list of schools is to check out each campus and talk with the students and instructors. Take the time to sit in on a few classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the program you select is the ideal one for you. With the right training, hard work and commitment, the end outcome will be a new occupation as a professional welder in Valley AL.