How to Pick the Best Welding Certification Program near Vestavia Hills Alabama
Selecting the ideal welder technical school near Vestavia Hills AL is an important first step to beginning your new career as a professional welder. But since there are numerous schools to select from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more importantly, once you have narrowed down your choices, how do you select the right one? Many people begin by checking out the schools that are closest to their residences. Once they have found those that are within commuting distance, they gravitate toward the least expensive one. Yes, location and tuition cost are crucial considerations when reviewing welder trade schools, but they are not the only ones. Other considerations include such things as reputation, accreditation and job placement rates. So before starting your search for a trade school to become a welder, it's prudent 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 Degree and Certificate Training Courses
There are several alternatives 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 Technology or Welding Engineering, but are more advanced courses than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available along with an apprenticeship program. Below are short summaries of the most prevalent welding programs offered in the Vestavia Hills AL area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are usually made available by technical and trade schools and require about 1 year to finish. They are more hands-on training in nature, fashioned largely to develop welding skills. They can furnish a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or supplemental 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 certificate or diploma while still providing the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
Some municipalities and states do have licensing requirements for welders, therefore be sure to find out for your location of potential employment. As required, the welder school you pick should ready you for any licensing exams that you will have to pass in addition to furnishing the suitable training to become a professional welder.
Welding Certification Options
There are multiple organizations that provide welder certifications, which evaluate the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Numerous Vestavia Hills AL employers not only require a certificate or degree from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a renowned agency like the American Welding Society (AWS). A variety of certifications are offered based on the kind of work that the welder does. Just some of the things that certification can attest to are the welder's ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specified metal thicknesses
- Work with various kinds of welds
- Perform according to contract specifications
As already mentioned, many cities, states or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those requiring licensing, a number additionally require certification for various types of work. Certification is also a means to demonstrate to employers that you are an exceptionally skilled and qualified welder. So just as with licensing, look into the requirements for your local area and verify that the welder tech school you select readies you for certification if needed.
Points to Ask Welder Technical Schools
When you have chosen the credential you want to attain, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can start to evaluate schools. As you can imagine, there are a large number of welding vocational and trade 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 already discussed two important ones that most 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 must be looked at. After all, the school you select is going to provide the training that will be the foundation of your new vocation as a welder. So below are more factors you might need to evaluate before choosing a welding trade school.
Accreditation. It's very important that the welding vocational school you select is accredited by either a national or a regional agency. There are 2 basic types of accreditation. The school may receive Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on an individual program the school has, such as Welding Technology. So verify that the program you pick is accredited, not just the school itself. Also, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, like the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). In addition to helping make sure that you get a quality education, the accreditation might also help in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently not available in Vestavia Hills 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 Placement and Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of welding certificate or degree programs are offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Some other schools will assist in placing you in an apprenticeship or a job after graduation. Find out if the schools you are reviewing assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. The schools should have associations 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 rely upon for placements. These programs can assist students in finding employment and establish relationships within the Vestavia Hills AL welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that start an instructional program and finish it. It's crucial that the welding program you pick has a high completion rate. A low rate may indicate that the students who enrolled in the program were unhappy with the instruction, the teachers, or the facilities, and quit. The job placement rate is also an indication of the caliber of training. A high job placement rate will not only confirm that the program has an excellent reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of Vestavia Hills AL contacts to assist students secure apprenticeships or employment after graduation.
Up-to-date Facilities and Equipment. After you have narrowed down your choice of welder schools to two or three possibilities, you should think out going to 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. In particular, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be working with on the job. 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. If not, ask a local Vestavia Hills AL welding professional if they can give you some pointers.
School Location. Although we previously briefly talked about the significance of location, there are a few additional issues that we need to address. You should keep in mind that unless you have the ability to move, the welder school you choose needs to be within commuting distance of your Vestavia Hills AL home. If you do opt to enroll in an out-of-state school, apart from moving expenses there might be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially true for welding diploma programs offered by community colleges. Additionally, if the school provides 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 desire to work.
Smaller Classes. Individualized training is important for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's possible to be overlooked in bigger classes and not receive much personalized training. Find out what the typical class size is for the welder schools you are reviewing. Inquire if you can sit in on a few classes so that you can experience just how much personal attention the students are getting. While there, speak with some of the students and get their feedback. Similarly, talk with some of the instructors and find out what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they hold.
Convenient Class Schedules. Many people learn a new trade while still working at their current job. Make sure that the class schedules for the schools you are considering are convenient enough to meet your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Vestavia Hills AL, make sure that the schools you are considering offer those options. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you decide on offers part-time enrollment. Also, check to see what the policy is to make up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Vestavia Hills Welding Course for Certification
Selecting the best welding school will undoubtedly be the most critical decision you will make to launch your new trade. As we have addressed in this article, there are several factors that you will need to examine and compare among the schools you are looking at. It's a must that any welding school that you are considering includes a lot of hands-on training. Classes should be small in size and each student should have their personal welding machine to train on. Classroom instruction needs to provide a real-world context, and the training program should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Programs vary in length and the kind of credential offered, so you will need to determine what length of program and credential will best satisfy your needs. Every training program provides different possibilities for certification also. Probably the best way to research your final list of schools is to visit each campus and talk with the teachers and students. Invest some time to attend some classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the school you decide on is the right one for you. With the proper training, hard work and dedication, the end outcome will be a new trade as a professional welder in Vestavia Hills AL.