How to Find the Right Welding Technical School near Wetumpka Alabama
Enrolling in the ideal welder trade school near Wetumpka AL is an essential first step to launching your new career as a professional welder. But since there are so many schools to select from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more notably, once you have fine tuned your options, 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 gravitate toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and tuition cost are necessary issues when reviewing welder vocational 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 prudent to develop a list of qualifications that your chosen 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 Certificate and Degree Programs
There are a number of options to get training as a welder in a technical or trade school. You can receive a a certificate, a diploma 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 along with an apprenticeship program. Below are short summaries of the most prevalent welding programs offered in the Wetumpka AL area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are usually made available by trade and technical schools and require about 1 year to finish. They are more hands-on training in scope, designed primarily to develop welding skills. They can provide a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or additional skills for experienced welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take two years to complete and are most often offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology provides 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 requirements for welders, therefore make sure to check for your location of potential employment. As needed, the welding school you select should prepare you for any licensing examinations that you will have to pass in addition to providing the proper training to become a professional welder.
Welder Certification Choices
There are various organizations that offer welding certifications, which test the skill level and knowledge of those applying. A large number of Wetumpka AL employers not only expect a degree or certificate from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a highly regarded agency like the American Welding Society (AWS). A wide range of certifications are available dependent on the type of work that the welder performs. Just some of the skills that certification can acknowledge are the welder's ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specific metal thicknesses
- Work with certain types of welds
- Operate according to contract specifications
As previously mentioned, various states, cities or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those requiring licensing, some additionally require certification for different kinds of work. Certification is also a means to demonstrate to employers that you are an extremely skilled and qualified welder. So similarly as with licensing, look into the requirements for your location and confirm that the welding tech school you choose readies you for certification if needed.
Points to Ask Welding Trade Programs
After you have chosen the credential you want to attain, a certificate, diploma or degree, 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 important to establish in advance what qualifications your chosen school must have. We have already discussed 2 significant ones that many people look at first, which are location and tuition cost. As stated, although they are very important qualifications, they are not the only ones that must be considered. After all, the school you pick is going to provide the education that will be the foundation of your new career as a welder. So below are some additional factors you might want to consider before selecting a welding tech school.
Accreditation. It's very important that the welder technical school you decide on is accredited by either a national or a regional agency. There are two basic types of accreditation. The school may earn Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on an individual program the school offers, for example Welding Technology. So make certain 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, such as the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). In addition to helping make sure that you receive a quality education, the accreditation might also help in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are often not offered in Wetumpka AL for non-accredited schools. Also, for those states or local governments that mandate licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited as well.
Job Assistance and Apprenticeship Programs. Many welder certificate or degree programs are provided combined with an apprenticeship program. Some other schools will assist in placing you in a job or an apprenticeship upon graduation. Find out if the schools you are reviewing help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. These schools should have relationships with local unions and other metal working businesses to which they can refer their students. More established schools may have a larger network of graduates that they can rely upon for referrals. 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 percentage of students that begin an academic program and finish it. It's essential that the welding program you select has a higher completion rate. A lower rate could indicate that the students who joined the program were unhappy with the training, the teachers, or the facilities, and dropped out. The job placement rate is also a good indicator of the caliber of training. A higher job placement rate will not only verify that the program has a good reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of Wetumpka AL contacts to help students secure employment or apprenticeships after graduation.
Up-to-date Equipment and Facilities. After you have decreased your choice of welding programs to two or three options, you should think out visiting the campuses to evaluate their facilities. Confirm 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 using in the field. If you are uncertain what to look for, and are currently in an apprenticeship program, ask the master welder you are working under for guidance. If not, ask a local Wetumpka AL welding contractor if they can give you some pointers.
School Location. Even though we previously briefly covered the relevance of location, there are a couple of additional issues that we should address. You should keep in mind that unless you have the ability to move, the welding program you pick must be within driving distance of your Wetumpka AL home. If you do choose to attend an out-of-state school, apart from moving costs there may 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 offers a job placement or apprenticeship program, more than likely their placements are within the school's local community. So the location of the school should be in an area or state where you subsequently will wish to work.
Smaller Classes. Individualized training is essential for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's possible to be overlooked in larger classes and not receive much individualized training. Ask what the usual class size is for the welding programs you are reviewing. Inquire if you can sit in on some classes so that you can experience just how much individual attention the students are getting. While there, speak with several of the students and get their feedback. Similarly, speak with a couple of the trainers and ask what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they have earned.
Convenient Class Scheduling. Many people learn a new profession while still working at their present job. Check to see 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, confirm that the schools you are considering provide those alternatives. If you can only attend part-time, confirm that the school you decide on offers part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the protocol is to make up classes if you you miss any due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Find the Best Wetumpka Welding School for Certification
Choosing the right welder training program will undoubtedly be the most critical decision you will make to start your new career. As we have discussed in this article, there are several things that you will need to examine and compare between the schools you are looking at. It's a prerequisite that any welder training program that you are evaluating includes a considerable amount of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be small in size and each student must have their personal welding machine to train with. Classroom education needs to offer a real-world context, and the training program should be current and conform with industry standards. Programs vary in duration and the kind of credential provided, so you will have to determine what length of program and degree or certificate will best satisfy your needs. Each program provides different possibilities for certification also. Probably The ideal means to research your short list of schools is to go to each campus and talk with the students and instructors. Invest some time to monitor a few classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the training program you pick is the ideal one for you. With the right training, hard work and dedication, the end result will be a new occupation as a professional welder in Wetumpka AL.