How to Pick the Best Welder Training Classes near Wetumpka Alabama
Finding the ideal welding vocational school near Wetumpka AL is an important first step to beginning your new career as a professional welder. But since there are so many 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 best one? A number of prospective students start by looking at the schools that are nearest to their homes. When they have identified those that are within commuting distance, they gravitate toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are necessary issues when reviewing welding vocational schools, but they are not the only ones. Other concerns include such things as accreditation, reputation and job placement rates. So before initiating your search for a vocational school to become a welder, it's wise to establish a list of qualifications that your selected school must have. But before we delve into our due diligence checklist, let's cover a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welder Certificate and Degree Training Courses
There are several options to get training as a welder in a trade or vocational school. You can earn a diploma, a certificate or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are available in Welding Technology or Welding Engineering, but are more advanced degrees than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available combined with an apprenticeship program. Below are brief summaries of the most prevalent welding programs offered in the Wetumpka AL area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are normally offered by trade and technical schools and take about one year to finish. They are more hands-on training in nature, created primarily to develop welding skills. They can provide a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or supplemental skills for working 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 extensive education than the diploma or certificate while still providing the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
Many states and municipalities do have licensing requirements for welders, therefore be sure to find out for your location of potential employment. If needed, the welder school you select should ready you for any licensing examinations that you will have to pass in addition to providing the appropriate training to become a qualified welder.
Welding Certification Options
There are several organizations that provide welder certifications, which evaluate the knowledge and skill level of those applying. Numerous Wetumpka AL employers not only demand a certificate or degree from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a respected organization like 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 skills that certification can acknowledge are the welder's ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specified metal thicknesses
- Work with specific kinds of welds
- Operate in compliance with contract specifications
As previously mentioned, many cities, states or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those requiring licensing, some also require certification for various kinds of work. Certification is also a way to demonstrate to employers that you are an extremely skilled and qualified welder. So just as with licensing, look into the requirements for your location and confirm that the welding tech school you decide on preps you for certification if needed.
What to Ask Welder Trade Schools
As soon as you have decided on the credential you want to obtain, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can begin to compare schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are a large number of welder trade and technical schools in the Wetumpka AL area. That's why it's essential to decide up front what qualifications your chosen school must have. We have already discussed 2 important ones that most people consider first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As mentioned, although they are essential qualifiers, they are not the only ones that need to be looked at. After all, the school you pick is going to furnish the training that will be the foundation of your new career as a welder. So below are more factors you might want to evaluate before picking a welder vocational school.
Accreditation. It's extremely important that the welding technical school you choose is accredited by either a regional or a national agency. There are two standard kinds of accreditation. The school may receive Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a single program the school has, for instance Welding Technology. So make sure that the program you pick is accredited, not just the school alone. Additionally, 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 make sure that you receive an excellent education, the accreditation can also help in getting financial assistance or student loans, which are often not offered in Wetumpka AL for schools that are not accredited. Finally, for those states or local governments that mandate licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited also.
Job Assistance and Apprenticeship Programs. Many welding degree or certificate programs are offered combined 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 assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. These schools should have partnerships with local unions and other metal working businesses to which they can place their students. Older schools may have a larger network of graduates that they can rely upon for referrals. These programs can help students find employment and develop associations within the Wetumpka AL welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that begin an instructional program and complete it. It's important that the welding school you choose has a high completion rate. A low rate could mean that the students who enrolled in the program were dissatisfied with the training, 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 affirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of Wetumpka AL contacts to assist students secure apprenticeships or employment upon graduation.
Modern Equipment and Facilities. After you have narrowed down your choice of welding programs to 2 or 3 options, you should consider going to the campuses to look over their facilities. Make sure that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are up-to-date. Specifically, 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 already in an apprenticeship program, ask the master welder you are working under for guidance. Otherwise, ask a local Wetumpka AL welding professional if they can give you some tips.
School Location. Even though we already briefly discussed the relevance of location, there are a couple of additional issues that we should deal with. You should remember that unless you can move, the welder program you pick needs to be within commuting distance of your Wetumpka AL home. If you do choose to enroll in an out-of-state school, apart from moving costs there could be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially the case for welder diploma programs offered by community colleges. Additionally, 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 a region or state where you ultimately will desire to work.
Smaller Classes. Individualized instruction is important for a manual trade such as welding. It's possible to get overlooked in larger classes and not obtain much personalized training. Find out what the average class size is for the welder programs you are considering. Ask if you can attend a couple of classes so that you can see how much personal attention the students are receiving. While there, speak with several of the students and get their feedback. Also, chat with some of the instructors and find out what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they hold.
Flexible Class Schedules. Lots of folks learn a new profession while still working at their present job. Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are looking at are flexible enough to satisfy your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Wetumpka AL, make certain that the schools you are assessing offer those alternatives. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, check to see what the protocol is to make up classes should you miss any because of illness, work or family responsibilities.
Find the Best Wetumpka Welding Training for Certification
Selecting the right welder training program will probably be the most important decision you will make to launch your new profession. As we have addressed in this article, there are many things that you will need to examine and compare between the programs you are considering. It's a must that any welding school that you are examining includes a good deal of hands-on training. Classes should be small in size and every student must have their own welding machine to train with. Classroom teaching should provide a real-world perspective, and the curriculum should be current and in-line with industry standards. Courses vary in length and the type of credential offered, so you will need to decide what length of program and certificate or degree will best serve your needs. Each training program offers different options for certification also. Probably The ideal approach to research your short list of schools is to go to each campus and speak with the faculty and students. Take the time to monitor some classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the program you pick is the ideal one for you. With the right training, effort and dedication, the final outcome will be a new occupation as a professional welder in Wetumpka AL.