How to Choose the Right Welding Certificate Program near Wetumpka Alabama
Selecting the ideal welder vocational school near Wetumpka AL is an important first step to launching your new career as a professional welder. But since there are so many schools to choose from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more importantly, once you have narrowed down your options, how do you pick the right one? Most prospective students start by checking out the schools that are nearest to their residences. When they have found those that are within commuting distance, they gravitate toward the least expensive one. Yes, location and tuition cost are necessary considerations when examining welder technical schools, but they are not the only ones. Other considerations 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 establish a list of qualifications that your chosen school must have. But before we explore our due diligence checklist, let's talk a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welder Degree and Certificate Programs
There are multiple options available to get training as a welder in a trade or vocational 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 offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Below are short explanations of the most typical welding programs offered in the Wetumpka AL area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are generally offered by technical and trade schools and require about one year to finish. They are more hands-on training in nature, fashioned largely to teach welding skills. They can furnish 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 furnishes a more extensive education than the diploma or certificate while still supplying the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
A number of states and municipalities do have licensing prerequisites for welders, so be sure to find out for your location of future employment. As needed, the welder school you select should prepare you for any licensing exams that you will have to pass in addition to supplying the appropriate training to become a qualified welder.
Welding Certification Alternatives
There are several institutions that offer welding certifications, which evaluate the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Numerous Wetumpka AL employers not only expect a certificate or degree from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a highly regarded agency such as the American Welding Society (AWS). A wide range of certifications are available based upon the type of work that the welder does. Some of the skills that certification can attest to are the welder's ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with certain metal thicknesses
- Work with specific kinds of welds
- Perform based on contract specifications
As formerly stated, many cities, states or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those mandating licensing, some additionally require certification for different types of work. Certification is also a way to demonstrate to employers that you are an exceptionally skilled and qualified welder. So similarly as with licensing, look into the requirements for your local area and make sure that the welder tech school you select preps you for certification as needed.
Topics to Ask Welder Vocational Schools
After you have chosen the credential you want to earn, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can start to assess schools. As you can imagine, there are many welding vocational and trade schools in the Wetumpka AL area. That's why it's important to decide up front what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have previously discussed a couple of significant ones that most people consider first, which are location and tuition cost. As mentioned, although they are essential qualifiers, they are not the only ones that should be considered. After all, the program you pick is going to furnish the education that will be the foundation of your new profession as a welder. So below are some additional factors you may need to consider before choosing a welder trade school.
Accreditation. It's very important that the welding vocational school you decide on is accredited by either a national or a regional organization. There are 2 standard kinds 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 verify that the program you choose is accredited, not just the school itself. Also, 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 obtain a superior education, the accreditation can also assist in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently not offered in Wetumpka AL for non-accredited schools. Finally, for those states or municipalities that mandate licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited as well.
Job Assistance and Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous welder degree or diploma programs are provided in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Some other schools will assist in placing you in a job or an apprenticeship upon graduation. Ask if the schools you are looking at help 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. Older schools may have a larger network of graduates that they can utilize for placements. 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 portion or percentage of students that enroll in an instructional program and complete it. It's essential that the welding school you select has a high completion rate. A reduced rate could 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 a good indicator of the caliber of training. A high job placement rate will not only confirm that the school has a good reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of Wetumpka AL employer relationships to help students secure apprenticeships or employment upon graduation.
Up-to-date Facilities and Equipment. After you have limited your selection of welding programs to two or three possibilities, you should consider going to the campuses to evaluate their facilities. Confirm that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are up-to-date. Specifically, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be working with on the job. If you are unsure what to look for, and are already 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 tips.
School Location. Although we already briefly discussed the significance of location, there are a couple of additional issues that we need to cover. You should bear in mind that unless you can move, the welding program you pick must be within commuting distance of your Wetumpka AL home. If you do opt to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to moving expenses there may be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly the case for welder 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 regional community. So the location of the school needs to be in an area or state where you subsequently will want to work.
Smaller Classes. Individualized training is essential for a manual trade such as welding. It's possible to be overlooked in larger classes and not obtain much personalized instruction. Ask what the usual class size is for the welding programs you are looking at. Ask if you can attend some classes so that you can witness just how much personal attention the students are receiving. While there, talk with some of the students and get their feedback. Also, chat with a couple of the teachers and ask 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 current job. Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Wetumpka AL, verify that the schools you are considering provide those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, verify that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the policy is to make up classes if you you miss any due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
Choose the Right Wetumpka Welding Training for Certification
Choosing the ideal welding training program will probably be the most important decision you will make to start your new trade. As we have discussed in this article, there are many things that you will need to evaluate and compare between the schools you are looking at. It's a must that any welder training that you are evaluating includes a considerable amount of hands-on training. Classes need to be small in size and each student should have their own welding machine to train with. Classroom teaching should offer a real-world context, and the training program should be current and conform with industry standards. Courses differ in length and the type of credential provided, so you will have to decide what length of program and credential will best serve your needs. Each program offers unique possibilities for certification as well. Probably The ideal means to research your final list of schools is to check out each campus and speak with the students and instructors. Take the time to attend some classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the school you select is the best one for you. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, the final outcome will be a new career as a professional welder in Wetumpka AL.