How to Enroll In the Best Welding Training Classes near Wetumpka Alabama
Locating the ideal welding vocational school near Wetumpka AL is an essential first step to launching your new career 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 significantly, once you have narrowed down your alternatives, how do you pick the best one? Most prospective students start by looking at the schools that are closest to their homes. When they have found those that are within commuting distance, they are drawn toward the least costly one. Yes, location and tuition cost are crucial concerns when examining welder vocational schools, but they are not the only ones. Other factors include such things as reputation, accreditation and job placement rates. So before beginning your search for a trade school to become a welder, it's prudent to create a list of qualifications that your selected 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 Degree and Certificate Training Courses
There are several options to get training as a welder in a technical or trade 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 offered along with an apprenticeship program. Below are short summaries of the most prevalent welding programs offered in the Wetumpka AL area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are generally offered by technical and trade schools and require about a year to complete. They are more hands-on training in nature, fashioned mainly 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 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.
Many states and municipalities do have licensing prerequisites for welders, therefore don't forget to check for your location of future employment. As required, the welding school you select should prep you for any licensing examinations that you will need to pass in addition to providing the appropriate training to become a qualified welder.
Welder Certification Options
There are a number of organizations that provide welder certifications, which evaluate the knowledge and skill level of those applying. A large number of Wetumpka AL employers not only expect a degree or certificate from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a respected agency such as the American Welding Society (AWS). A wide range of certifications are offered based upon the type of work that the welder does. Some of the things that certification can acknowledge are the welder's ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specified metal thicknesses
- Work with various kinds of welds
- Perform in compliance with contract specifications
As already mentioned, many states, cities or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those calling for licensing, a number additionally require certification for different types of work. Certification is also a means to demonstrate to employers that you are a highly skilled and knowledgeable welder. So just as with licensing, check the requirements for your local area and make certain that the welding trade school you select preps you for certification if needed.
Questions to Ask Welder Tech Programs
When you have decided on the credential you would like to obtain, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can begin to compare schools. As you can imagine, there are many welder trade and vocational schools in the Wetumpka AL area. That's why it's necessary to decide up front what qualifications your chosen school must have. We have already discussed a couple of significant ones that many people consider first, which are location and tuition cost. As stated, although they are very important qualifiers, they are not the only ones that must be looked at. After all, the program you choose is going to furnish the training that will be the foundation of your new vocation as a welder. So following are some additional factors you may want to consider before selecting a welding trade school.
Accreditation. It's very important that the welder technical school you select is accredited by either a regional or a national organization. There are two standard types of accreditation. The school may attain Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a specific program the school has, for example Welding Technology. So make sure that the program you select is accredited, not just the school itself. Additionally, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, like the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping ensure that you get an excellent education, the accreditation might also assist in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable in Wetumpka AL for schools that are not accredited. Finally, for those states or local governments that require licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited also.
Apprenticeship and Job Assistance Programs. A large number of welding degree or diploma programs are provided in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Some other schools will help place you in an apprenticeship or a job after graduation. Find out if the schools you are looking at assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. The schools should have relationships 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 utilize for placements. These programs can assist students in finding employment and develop relationships within the Wetumpka AL welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that start an academic program and complete it. It's crucial that the welding program you pick has a high completion rate. A reduced rate could mean that the students who joined the program were unhappy with the training, the instructors, or the facilities, and dropped out. The job placement rate is also an indication of the quality of training. A high job placement rate will not only verify that the program has a good reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of Wetumpka AL employer relationships to help students obtain apprenticeships or employment after graduation.
Up-to-date Facilities and Equipment. Once you have decreased your choice of welding schools to 2 or 3 possibilities, you should consider going to the campuses to look over their facilities. Confirm that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be taught on are up-to-date. In particular, 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 Wetumpka AL welding professional if they can give you some pointers.
School Location. Although we previously briefly discussed the relevance of location, there are a couple of additional points that we should deal with. You should remember that unless you are able to move, the welder school you pick must be within commuting distance of your Wetumpka AL home. If you do choose to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to moving expenses there may 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 an apprenticeship or job placement program, often their placements are within the school's local community. So the location of the school needs to be in an area or state where you subsequently will wish to work.
Smaller Classes. Individualized instruction is important for a manual trade such as welding. It's easy to be overlooked in bigger classes and not get much one-on-one training. Ask what the usual class size is for the welding programs you are looking at. Inquire if you can attend some classes so that you can experience just how much individual attention the students are getting. While there, talk with a few of the students and get their evaluations. Similarly, talk to some of the trainers and ask what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they have earned.
Convenient Class Schedules. Lots of folks learn a new profession while still employed at their present job. Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are considering are convenient enough to satisfy your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Wetumpka AL, verify that the schools you are considering provide those alternatives. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the policy is to make up classes should you miss any because of illness, work or family circumstances.
Find the Right Wetumpka Welding Program for Certification
Selecting the best welder school will undoubtedly be the most critical decision you will make to launch your new profession. As we have discussed in this article, there are many factors that you will need to evaluate and compare among the programs you are looking at. It's a necessity that any welder training that you are reviewing includes a considerable amount of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be smaller in size and each student should have their personal welding machine to train on. Classroom education needs to offer a real-world context, and the course of study should be current and in-line with industry standards. Training programs differ in length and the type of credential provided, so you will have to determine what length of program and certificate or degree will best satisfy your needs. Every program offers unique possibilities for certification also. Perhaps the best way to research your final list of schools is to check out each campus and speak with the students and faculty. Take the time to attend a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the training program you select is the right one for you. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, the end result will be a new occupation as a professional welder in Wetumpka AL.