How to Pick the Right Welding Technical School near Vestavia Hills Alabama
Enrolling in the right welding vocational school near Vestavia Hills AL is an important first step to launching your new career as a professional welder. But since there are numerous schools to select from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more importantly, once you have fine tuned your choices, how do you pick the right one? A number of people start by checking out the schools that are nearest to their residences. When they have identified those that are within commuting distance, they gravitate toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and tuition cost are crucial issues when examining welder trade schools, but they are not the only ones. Other considerations include such things as accreditation, reputation and job placement rates. So before initiating your search for a trade 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 Certificate and Degree Training Classes
There are several options to obtain training as a welder in a trade or technical school. You can receive a diploma, a certificate or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are offered in Welding Technology or Welding Engineering, but are more advanced degrees than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available along with an apprenticeship program. Below are short explanations of the most prevalent welding programs available in the Vestavia Hills AL area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are normally made available by technical and trade schools and require about a year to complete. They are more hands-on training in scope, created largely 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 most often offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology furnishes a more extensive education than the certificate or diploma while still supplying the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
A number of municipalities and states do have licensing prerequisites for welders, therefore don't forget to check for your location of future employment. As needed, the welding school you choose should prep you for any licensing examinations that you will have to take in addition to furnishing the proper training to become a professional welder.
Welder Certification Options
There are a number of institutions that offer welder certifications, which evaluate the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Many Vestavia Hills 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 based upon the kind of work that the welder does. A few of the skills that certification can acknowledge are the welder's ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specific metal thicknesses
- Work with certain kinds of welds
- Operate in compliance with contract specifications
As earlier stated, various cities, states or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those requiring licensing, a number also require certification for various types of work. Certification is also a means to demonstrate to employers that you are an exceptionally skilled and knowledgeable welder. So similarly as with licensing, look into the requirements for your location and confirm that the welding vocational school you decide on preps you for certification as needed.
Topics to Ask Welding Vocational Schools
When you have decided on the credential you want to obtain, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can begin to assess schools. As you can imagine, there are many welding trade and vocational schools in the Vestavia Hills AL area. That's why it's important to determine in advance what qualifications your selected school must have. We have previously discussed 2 significant ones that most people look at first, which are location and tuition cost. As stated, although they are essential qualifications, they are not the only ones that need to be considered. After all, the program you select 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 may need to evaluate before choosing a welder tech school.
Accreditation. It's extremely important that the welder vocational school you pick is accredited by either a national or a regional organization. There are 2 standard types 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, for example Welding Technology. So make sure that the program you select is accredited, not just the school itself. 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 superior education, the accreditation may also help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are often unavailable in Vestavia Hills AL for schools that are not accredited. Finally, for those states or local governments that require licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited as well.
Apprenticeship and Job Assistance Programs. Numerous welder certificate or degree programs are provided in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Other schools will help place you in an apprenticeship or a job after graduation. Ask if the schools you are looking at assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. These schools must have partnerships with local unions and various metal working businesses to which they can refer their students. More established schools may have a more substantial network of graduates that they can utilize for referrals. These programs can assist students in finding 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 complete it. It's essential that the welding school you choose has a high completion rate. A low rate might indicate that the students who were in the program were dissatisfied with the instruction, the teachers, or the facilities, and quit. The job placement rate is also a good indicator of the quality 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 Vestavia Hills AL contacts to help students secure employment or apprenticeships upon graduation.
Up-to-date Equipment and Facilities. Once you have narrowed down your selection of welding programs to 2 or 3 possibilities, you should consider going to the campuses to inspect their facilities. Verify that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be taught on are modern. Specifically, the training equipment should be comparable to what you will be using 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 professional if they can give you a few tips.
School Location. Although we already briefly discussed the importance of location, there are a few additional issues that we need to cover. You should remember that unless you are able to move, the welding program you pick needs to be within commuting distance of your Vestavia Hills AL home. If you do opt to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation expenses there might be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly the case for welder degree programs offered by community colleges. Additionally, if the school provides a job placement or apprenticeship program, often their placements are within the school's regional community. So the location of the school should be in a region or state where you ultimately will desire to work.
Smaller Classes. Personalized instruction is important for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's easy to be overlooked in bigger classes and not receive much personalized training. Ask what the typical class size is for the welding schools you are considering. Inquire if you can attend some classes so that you can witness just how much personal attention the students are receiving. While there, speak with several of the students and get their evaluations. Similarly, chat with some of the instructors and find out what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they have earned.
Flexible Class Schedules. Some people learn a new trade while still working at their present job. Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Vestavia Hills AL, make sure that the schools you are considering offer those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, confirm that the school you select 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 circumstances.
Find the Right Vestavia Hills Welding Program for Certification
Picking the best welder training program will undoubtedly be the most important decision you will make to start your new profession. As we have discussed in this article, there are a number of factors that you will need to evaluate and compare among the schools you are reviewing. It's a necessity that any welding training program that you are examining includes a good deal of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be small in size and each student must have their own welding machine to train with. Classroom education needs to provide a real-world frame of reference, and the curriculum should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Training programs differ in duration and the kind of credential provided, so you will have to ascertain what length of program and degree or certificate will best serve your needs. Each training program provides unique possibilities for certification as well. Perhaps The ideal means to research your final list of schools is to go to each campus and speak with the faculty and students. Invest some time to sit in on some classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the training program you choose is the best one for you. With the right training, effort and dedication, the end outcome will be a new trade as a professional welder in Vestavia Hills AL.