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What to Ask Welder Tech Programs
When you have decided on the credential you would like to earn, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can start to evaluate schools. As you probably know, there are numerous welding trade and vocational schools in the Vestavia Hills AL area. That's why it's essential to determine up front what qualifications your selected school must have. We have previously covered a couple of important ones that many people consider first, which are location and tuition cost. As stated, although they are essential qualifications, they are not the only ones that need to be looked at. After all, the program you choose is going to furnish the instruction that will be the foundation of your new vocation as a welder. So following are some additional factors you might need to evaluate before selecting a welding tech school.
Accreditation. It's very important that the welding tech school you select 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 a single program the school has, such as Welding Technology. So make sure that the program you choose 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). Besides helping ensure that you receive a quality education, the accreditation can also assist in securing financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable in Vestavia Hills AL for schools that are not accredited. Also, for those states or municipalities that require licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited also.
Apprenticeship and Job Placement Programs. Numerous welder certificate or degree programs are offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Other schools will help place you in a job or an apprenticeship after graduation. Ask if the schools you are considering help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. These schools must have associations with local unions and other 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 help students find employment and develop relationships within the Vestavia Hills 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 important that the welding school you select has a high completion rate. A lower rate could signify 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 quality of training. A higher job placement rate will not only confirm that the program has a good reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of Vestavia Hills AL employer relationships to help students obtain apprenticeships or employment upon graduation.
Up-to-date Equipment and Facilities. Once you have limited your choice of welding programs to two or three possibilities, you should consider going to the campuses to evaluate their facilities. Make sure that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be taught on are modern. In particular, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be working with in the field. 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 Vestavia Hills AL welding contractor if they can give you a few suggestions.
School Location. Even though we previously briefly discussed the importance of location, there are a few additional points that we need to address. You should remember that unless you are able to move, the welder school you select must be within driving distance of your Vestavia Hills AL home. If you do choose to attend an out-of-state school, besides moving expenses there could be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially the case for welding certificate programs offered by community colleges. Furthermore, 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 needs to be in a region or state where you ultimately will desire to work.
Smaller Classes. Individualized training is essential for a manual trade such as welding. It's possible to get overlooked in bigger classes and not obtain much personalized training. Ask what the typical class size is for the welder programs you are reviewing. Inquire if you can attend some classes so that you can see how much individual attention the students are getting. While there, talk with a few of the students and get their feedback. Similarly, chat with a couple of the instructors and ask what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they have earned.
Convenient Class Schedules. Some people learn a new trade while still employed at their current job. Check to see that the class schedules for the schools you are considering are convenient enough to satisfy your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Vestavia Hills AL, make certain that the schools you are looking at provide those choices. If you can only attend part-time, confirm that the school you decide on offers part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the policy is to make up classes if you you miss any because of work, sickness or family emergencies.