How to Choose a Welder Training Class near Citronelle 36522
Choosing the right welder trade school near Citronelle AL is an important first step to starting your new career as a professional welder. But since there are numerous welding schools to select from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more importantly, once you have fine tuned your options, how do you select the right one? Many prospective students begin by reviewing the schools that are closest to their residences. When they have found those that are within driving distance, they are drawn toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and tuition cost are necessary considerations when reviewing welding technical schools, but they are not the only ones. Other considerations include such things as accreditation, reputation and job placement rates. So before starting your search for a vocational school to become a welder, it’s wise to create a list of qualifications that your selected school must have. But before we examine our due diligence checklist, let’s cover a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welding Degree and Certificate Training Classes
There are multiple options to get training as a welder in a trade or vocational school in the Citronelle area. You can earn a diploma, a certificate or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are offered in Welding Engineering or Welding Technology, but are more advanced programs than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also offered combined with an apprenticeship program. Following are short descriptions of the most prevalent welding programs offered in Alabama.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are generally offered by trade and technical schools and require about 1 year to finish. They are more hands-on training in nature, 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 usually offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology provides a more well-rounded education than the diploma or certificate while still providing the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
A number of municipalities and states do have licensing prerequisites for welders, therefore make sure to check for Citronelle or your location of potential employment. If required, the welder school you select should ready you for any licensing exams that you will have to take in addition to supplying the suitable training to become a qualified welder in Alabama.
Welding Certification Alternatives
There are several organizations that provide welding certifications, which evaluate the skill level and knowledge of those applying. A large number of Citronelle area employers not only demand a degree or certificate from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a highly regarded organization such as the American Welding Society (AWS). Different certifications are offered based upon the kind of work that the welder performs. Just some of the skills that certification can attest to are the welder’s ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with certain metal thicknesses
- Work with certain types of welds
- Perform in compliance with contract specifications
As earlier mentioned, many states, cities or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those calling for licensing, some also require certification for different types of work. Certification is also a way to prove to Citronelle employers that you are an extremely skilled and qualified welder. So similarly as with licensing, look into the requirements for your location and make certain that the welding trade school you choose readies you for certification as needed.
Online Welder Schools
Welding is very much a hands-on kind of profession, and therefore not extremely suitable for online training. Having said that, there are a small number of online welding courses offered by certain community colleges and technical schools that can be credited toward a certificate or degree program. These courses mainly cover such subjects as reading blueprints, safety,, and metallurgy. They can help provide a beginner a basis to start their education and training. However, the most significant point is that you can’t learn how to weld or handle welding materials unless you actually do it. Clearly that can’t be accomplished online in your Citronelle home. These skills must be learned in an on-campus setting or in an apprenticeship. Online or distance learning is more appropriate for seasoned welders that would like to advance their knowledge or perhaps earn a more advanced degree. So if you should find an online welding degree or certificate program, be extremely careful and make certain that the majority of the training is done on campus or in a workshop type of environment.
How to Decide on a Welder Vocational Program
As soon as you have chosen the credential you want to attain, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can begin to compare schools. As you probably know, there are a large number of welding vocational and trade schools in the Citronelle area. That’s why it’s essential to establish up front what qualifications your school of choice 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 need to be considered. After all, the program you select is going to provide the training that will be the foundation of your new profession as a welder. So following are some additional factors you may need to evaluate before picking a welding technical school.
Accreditation. It’s very important that the welder trade school you select is accredited by either a regional or a national organization. There are two standard 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 has, for instance Welding Technology. So make sure that the program you choose is accredited, not just the school itself. 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). In addition to helping make sure that you get a superior education, the accreditation may also help in getting financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases not available for non-accredited schools in the 36522 area. Also, 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. Many welding degree or diploma programs are provided in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Other schools will assist in placing you in a job or an apprenticeship upon graduation. Find out if the schools you are considering assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. The 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 more substantial network of graduates that they can utilize for referrals. These programs can assist students in finding employment in the Citronelle area and develop associations within the local welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that start an instructional program and finish it. It’s crucial that the welder program you choose has a higher completion rate. A low rate may signify 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 an indication of the caliber of training. A higher job placement rate will not only confirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of employer relationships to assist students obtain employment or apprenticeships in the Citronelle area upon graduation.
Modern Equipment and Facilities. Once you have limited your choice of welder schools to two or three possibilities, you should think about going to the campuses to inspect their facilities. Verify that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be instructed on are modern. In particular, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be using on the job. 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. Otherwise, ask a local Citronelle welding professional if they can give you some pointers.
School Location. Even though we previously briefly talked about the importance of location, there are a few additional issues that we should address. You should remember that unless you can relocate, the welder school you select must be within commuting distance of your Citronelle home. If you do opt to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides moving expenses there might be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially true for welding degree programs offered by community colleges. Furthermore, if the school provides an apprenticeship or job placement program, most likely 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. Personalized instruction is important for a manual trade such as welding. It’s possible to get overlooked in larger classes and not receive much individualized training. Ask what the typical class size is for the welder programs you are reviewing. Ask if you can sit in on some classes so that you can experience how much personal attention the students are getting. While there, speak with some of the students and get their evaluations. Also, chat with a few of the teachers and find out what their welding experience has been in Alabama and what certifications and credentials they have earned.
Flexible Class Schedules. Lots of folks learn a new profession while still employed at their present job. Make sure that the class schedules for the schools you are considering are flexible enough to satisfy your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Citronelle, confirm that the schools you are considering provide those options. If you can only attend part-time, confirm that the school you decide on 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 emergencies.
Find the Best Welding Trade School Citronelle ALSelecting the best welding school will probably be the most critical decision you will make to start your new career. As we have covered in this article, there are several factors that you will need to assess and compare among the programs you are looking at. It's a prerequisite that any welder school that you are examining includes a lot of hands-on instruction. Classes should be smaller in size and every student should have their own welding machine to train on. Classroom teaching should provide a real-world frame of reference, and the curriculum should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Training programs differ in length and the kind of credential provided, so you will have to decide what length of program and degree or certificate will best serve your needs. Every program offers unique options for certification also. Probably the ideal means to research your short list of schools is to visit each campus and speak with the students and faculty. Take the time to sit in on a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the program you choose is the right one for you. With the proper training, hard work and dedication, the final outcome will be a new occupation as a professional welder.