How to Find the Right Welder Trade School near Vestavia Hills Alabama
Locating the ideal welding vocational school near Vestavia Hills AL is an important first step to launching your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are a lot of 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 select the right one? Many prospective students begin by looking at the schools that are closest to their residences. Once they have located those that are within driving distance, they are drawn toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are important concerns when examining welder vocational schools, but they are not the only ones. Other factors include such things as accreditation, reputation and job placement rates. So before beginning your search for a trade school to become a welder, it's sensible to develop a list of qualifications that your selected school must have. But before we examine our due diligence checklist, let's cover a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welding Certificate and Degree Training Programs
There are a number of options available to obtain training as a welder in a trade or technical school. You can obtain a a certificate, a diploma or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are available in Welding Engineering or Welding Technology, but are more advanced courses than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available along with an apprenticeship program. Below are brief explanations of the most prevalent welding programs offered in the Vestavia Hills AL area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are normally offered by technical and trade schools and require about one year to complete. They are more hands-on training in nature, designed primarily to develop welding skills. They can provide a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or specialized skills for experienced welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take 2 years to complete and are usually offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology furnishes a more well-rounded education than the certificate or diploma while still supplying the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
Many states and municipalities do have licensing requirements for welders, therefore make sure to find out for your location of potential employment. If needed, the welder school you pick should ready you for any licensing exams that you will need to take in addition to providing the proper training to become a professional welder.
Welder Certification Options
There are a number of institutions that provide welding certifications, which assess the skill level and knowledge of those applying. A large number of Vestavia Hills AL employers not only expect a certificate or degree from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a highly regarded agency like the American Welding Society (AWS). A wide range of certifications are available 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
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specific metal thicknesses
- Work with specific types of welds
- Perform according to contract specifications
As previously stated, various cities, states or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those calling for licensing, many additionally require certification for different types of work. Certification is also a means to demonstrate to employers that you are an exceptionally skilled and qualified welder. So similarly as with licensing, check the requirements for your location and make certain that the welder technical school you choose readies you for certification if needed.
Subjects to Ask Welder Vocational Schools
After you have decided on the credential you want to attain, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can start to assess schools. As you probably know, there are a large number of welding trade and vocational schools in the Vestavia Hills AL area. That's why it's necessary to determine in advance what qualifications your chosen school must have. We have previously discussed a couple of important ones that many people look at first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As mentioned, although they are very important qualifiers, they are not the only ones that need to be looked at. After all, the school you decide on is going to provide the instruction that will be the foundation of your new career as a welder. So following are more factors you may want to evaluate before selecting a welding tech school.
Accreditation. It's extremely important that the welding vocational school you pick is accredited by either a regional or a national organization. There are two basic kinds of accreditation. The school may earn 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 choose is accredited, not just the school itself. Additionally, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, like the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). In addition to helping make sure that you get an excellent education, the accreditation may also help in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are often not offered in Vestavia Hills AL for non-accredited schools. Finally, for those states or municipalities that mandate licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited as well.
Job Placement and Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of welder degree or certificate programs are offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Some other schools will help place you in a job or an apprenticeship upon graduation. Ask if the schools you are reviewing assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. These schools should have associations with local unions and other metal working businesses to which they can refer their students. More established schools may have a larger network of graduates that they can rely upon for placements. These programs can assist students in finding employment and develop associations within the Vestavia Hills AL welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that start an educational program and finish it. It's crucial that the welding program you select has a high completion rate. A low rate may signify that the students who enrolled in the program were dissatisfied with the training, the instructors, 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 affirm that the program has an excellent reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of Vestavia Hills AL employer relationships to help students secure employment or apprenticeships after graduation.
Modern Equipment and Facilities. After 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. Verify that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be trained on are up-to-date. Specifically, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be using in the field. If you are uncertain 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 Vestavia Hills AL welding contractor if they can give you a few tips.
School Location. Although we previously briefly talked about the relevance of location, there are a couple of additional issues that we need to address. You should remember that unless you are able to relocate, the welder program you select must be within driving distance of your Vestavia Hills AL home. If you do choose to enroll in an out-of-state school, apart from 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 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 subsequently will want to work.
Smaller Classes. Personalized instruction is important for a manual trade such as welding. It's easy to get overlooked in bigger classes and not get much personalized training. Ask what the average class size is for the welder schools you are looking at. Ask if you can attend a few classes so that you can observe how much individual attention the students are getting. While there, talk with some of the students and get their feedback. Similarly, talk to some of the trainers and find out what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they hold.
Flexible Class Scheduling. Lots of folks learn a new trade while still employed at their current job. Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are looking at are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Vestavia Hills AL, make sure that the schools you are assessing provide those choices. If you can only attend part-time, make certain that the school you pick offers part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the protocol is to make up classes if you you miss any due to illness, work or family responsibilities.
Choose the Right Vestavia Hills Welding Course for Certification
Choosing the right welder training program will probably be the most critical decision you will make to start your new trade. As we have discussed in this article, there are many factors that you will need to assess and compare among the schools you are considering. It's a necessity that any welder training program that you are reviewing includes a considerable amount of hands-on instruction. Classes should be smaller in size and each student should have their personal welding machine to train with. Classroom teaching needs to offer a real-world frame of reference, and the curriculum should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Courses vary in length and the type of credential provided, so you will have to ascertain what length of program and certificate or degree will best serve your needs. Every training program offers different possibilities for certification as well. Perhaps the best way to research your final list of schools is to go to each campus and talk with the students and instructors. Invest some time to monitor some classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the school you pick is the ideal one for you. With the right training, hard work and commitment, the end outcome will be a new career as a professional welder in Vestavia Hills AL.