How to Select the Best Welder Technical School near Wetumpka Alabama
Choosing the ideal welder school near Wetumpka AL is an essential first step to launching your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are numerous schools to select from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more importantly, once you have fine tuned your alternatives, how do you select the best one? Most prospective students begin by looking at the schools that are nearest to their homes. Once they have found those that are within driving distance, they gravitate toward the least expensive one. Yes, location and tuition cost are necessary considerations when examining welding trade schools, but they are not the only ones. Other concerns include such things as reputation, accreditation and job placement rates. So before beginning your search for a vocational school to become a welder, it's sensible to create 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.
Welding Degree and Certificate Training Classes
There are a number of alternatives available to receive training as a welder in a technical or trade school. You can receive a diploma, a certificate 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 combined with an apprenticeship program. Below are short explanations of the most typical welding programs offered in the Wetumpka AL area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are usually offered by technical and trade schools and require about a year to finish. They are more hands-on training in scope, created mainly to teach welding skills. They can provide 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 usually offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology offers a more well-rounded education than the certificate or diploma while still providing the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
Many municipalities and states do have licensing prerequisites for welders, therefore be sure to find out for your location of future employment. As needed, the welder school you choose should prepare you for any licensing examinations that you will have to pass in addition to furnishing the proper training to become a qualified welder.
Welding Certification Options
There are various organizations that provide welding certifications, which evaluate the knowledge and skill level of those applying. Many Wetumpka AL employers not only expect a certificate or degree from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a highly regarded organization such as the American Welding Society (AWS). A variety of certifications are offered dependent on the type of work that the welder performs. A few of the skills that certification can attest to are the welder's ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specified metal thicknesses
- Work with specific kinds of welds
- Operate based on contract specifications
As earlier stated, various cities, states or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those mandating licensing, some also require certification for various types of work. Certification is also a way to demonstrate to employers that you are an exceptionally skilled and experienced welder. So just as with licensing, look into the requirements for your location and make certain that the welding vocational school you choose readies you for certification if needed.
Subjects to Ask Welder Technical Programs
When you have decided on the credential you want to obtain, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can begin to assess schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are numerous welding trade and technical schools in the Wetumpka AL area. That's why it's important to determine in advance what qualifications your chosen school must have. We have previously discussed two important ones that many people consider first, which are location and tuition cost. As stated, although they are essential qualifiers, they are not the only ones that must be considered. After all, the school you pick is going to furnish the education that will be the foundation of your new career as a welder. So below are more factors you may need to evaluate before picking a welder tech school.
Accreditation. It's extremely important that the welding vocational school you decide on is accredited by either a national or a regional organization. There are 2 basic types of accreditation. The school may attain Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on an individual 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 acknowledged accrediting organization, for example the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping make sure that you obtain an excellent education, the accreditation may also assist in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are often unavailable 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.
Apprenticeship and Job Placement Programs. A large number of welder certificate or degree programs are offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Various other schools will help place you in a job or an apprenticeship upon graduation. Ask if the schools you are considering assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. These schools should have relationships with local unions and various metal working businesses to which they can refer 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 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 program you select has a high completion rate. A low rate might mean that the students who enrolled in the program were dissatisfied with the instruction, the instructors, or the facilities, and dropped out. The job placement rate is also a good indicator of the quality of training. A higher job placement rate will not only confirm that the program has an excellent reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of Wetumpka AL employer relationships to help students obtain employment or apprenticeships after graduation.
Modern Facilities and Equipment. After you have limited your choice of welding programs to 2 or 3 options, you should consider going to the campuses to evaluate their facilities. Make sure that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be taught on are modern. 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. Otherwise, ask a local Wetumpka AL welding contractor if they can give you a few suggestions.
School Location. Even though we previously briefly discussed the relevance of location, there are a couple of additional points that we need to deal with. You should keep in mind that unless you can move, the welder program you pick needs to be within commuting distance of your Wetumpka AL home. If you do opt to attend an out-of-state school, besides moving costs there might be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly the case for welding diploma programs offered by community colleges. Also, if the school provides a job placement or apprenticeship program, often their placements are within the school's regional community. So the location of the school should be in a region or state where you ultimately will desire to work.
Smaller Classes. Individualized instruction is essential for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's easy to be lost in larger classes and not obtain much individualized training. Ask what the usual class size is for the welder programs you are considering. Ask if you can attend a couple of classes so that you can see just how much individual attention the students are receiving. While there, talk with a few of the students and get their feedback. Similarly, talk to a few of the trainers 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 present job. Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are considering are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Wetumpka AL, make certain that the schools you are looking at offer those options. If you can only attend part-time, verify that the school you pick 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 circumstances.
Choose the Right Wetumpka Welding Training for Certification
Choosing the right welding training program will probably be the most critical decision you will make to launch your new career. As we have discussed in this article, there are many things that you will need to examine and compare among the programs you are reviewing. It's a prerequisite that any welding training that you are reviewing includes a lot of hands-on instruction. Classes should be small in size and every student must have their personal welding machine to train on. Classroom instruction needs to offer a real-world perspective, and the course of study should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Training programs differ in length and the type of credential offered, so you will need to ascertain what length of program and credential will best serve your needs. Each training program offers different options for certification as well. Probably the best means to research your final list of schools is to check out each campus and talk with the teachers and students. Take the time to sit in on some classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the school you select is the right one for you. With the right training, hard work and commitment, the final outcome will be a new occupation as a professional welder in Wetumpka AL.