How to Pick a Welder Degree Program in Georgia
Locating the right welding school in Georgia is an important first step to beginning 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 narrowed down your options, how do you pick the right one? Many people begin by looking at the schools that are closest to their residences. When they have located those that are within driving distance, they are drawn toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are necessary considerations when examining welder technical 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 trade school to become a welder, it’s prudent to establish a list of qualifications that your selected welding school must have. But before we examine our due diligence checklist, let’s talk a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welder Degree and Certificate Training Programs
There are multiple alternatives available to get training as a welder in a trade or vocational school. You can obtain a diploma, a certificate or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are offered in Welding Engineering or Welding Technology, but are more advanced courses than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also offered along with an apprenticeship program. Below are short explanations of the most typical welding programs available in Georgia.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are normally made available by Georgia technical and trade schools and require about a year to complete. They are more hands-on training in scope, created largely to teach welding skills. They can provide a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or specialized skills for working welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take 2 years to finish and are most often offered by Georgia community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology furnishes a more well-rounded education than the certificate or diploma while still providing the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
A number of municipalities and states do have licensing requirements for welders, therefore don’t forget to check for your location of potential employment. As needed, the welder school you pick should prep you for any licensing exams that you will need to take in addition to supplying the suitable training to become a professional welder in Georgia.
Welder Certification Alternatives
There are multiple organizations that provide welding certifications, which assess the knowledge and skill level of those applying. A large number of Georgia employers not only require a degree or certificate from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a highly regarded agency such as the American Welding Society (AWS). Different certifications are available dependent on the kind of work that the welder performs. Some of the things that certification can acknowledge are the welder’s ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specified metal thicknesses
- Work with certain types of welds
- Perform in compliance with contract specifications
As previously stated, various cities, states or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those mandating licensing, many also require certification for different types of work. Certification is also a means to demonstrate to Georgia employers that you are a highly skilled and qualified welder. So just as with licensing, check the requirements for your location and confirm that the welder vocational school you choose prepares you for certification if needed.
Online Welder Classes
Welding is very much a manual kind of trade, and therefore not very compatible with training online. Even so, there are some online welding classes offered by specific Georgia community colleges and vocational schools that can count toward a certificate or degree program. These classes primarily cover such subjects as reading blueprints, safety,, and metallurgy. They can help provide a beginner a foundation to start their education and training. Nevertheless, the most significant point is that you can’t learn how to weld or work with welding materials unless you actually do it. Obviously that can’t be performed online. These skills have to be learned in an on-campus setting or in an apprenticeship. Online or distance learning is more appropriate for seasoned welders that desire to advance their knowledge or possibly earn a more advanced degree. So if you should discover an online welding certificate or degree program, be extremely careful and verify that the bulk of the training is done on campus or in a workshop type of environment.
How to Choose a Welder Technical Program
When you have decided on the credential you want to obtain, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can begin to evaluate schools. As you probably know, there are many welder vocational and trade schools in Georgia. That’s why it’s essential to decide in advance what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have previously covered a couple of significant ones that most people look at first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As stated, although they are essential qualifications, they are not the only ones that need to be looked at. After all, the school you choose is going to furnish the education that will be the foundation of your new vocation as a welder. So below are some additional factors you might want to consider before picking a welder vocational school.
Accreditation. It’s very important that the welder tech school you decide on is accredited by either a national or a regional agency. There are two standard types of accreditation. The school may receive Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on an individual program the school has, such as 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 receive a quality education, the accreditation can also assist in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are often unavailable for Georgia schools that are not accredited. Also, for those states or local governments that require licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited as well.
Job Assistance and Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of welder certificate or degree programs are provided in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Other schools will help place 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. These schools must have partnerships with local unions and various Georgia metal working businesses to which they can refer their students. Older schools may have a more substantial network of graduates that they can utilize for placements. These programs can help students find employment and develop associations within the regional 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 important that the welding program you select has a higher completion rate. A lower rate could mean that the students who enrolled in the program were unhappy 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 high job placement rate will not only verify that the school has an excellent reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of Georgia employer relationships to help students secure apprenticeships or employment upon graduation.
Up-to-date Equipment and Facilities. Once you have decreased your selection of welder programs to 2 or 3 possibilities, you should think out visiting the campuses to inspect their facilities. Verify that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be taught on are up-to-date. In particular, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be working with 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 Georgia welding contractor if they can give you a few suggestions.
School Location. Even though we previously briefly discussed the importance of location, there are a few additional points that we should deal with. You should bear in mind that unless you are able to move, the welding program you select must be within commuting distance of your Georgia home. If you do choose to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides relocation expenses there may be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially the case for welder certificate programs offered by community colleges. Furthermore, if the school offers an apprenticeship or job placement program, most likely 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 ultimately will desire to work.
Smaller Classes. Individualized instruction is essential for a hands-on trade such as welding. It’s easy to get lost in larger classes and not get much individualized training. Find out what the usual class size is for the Georgia welder schools you are considering. Inquire if you can attend some classes so that you can witness just how much personal attention the students are receiving. While there, talk with a few of the students and get their feedback. Similarly, speak with some of the trainers and ask what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they hold.
Flexible Class Scheduling. Lots of folks learn a new trade while still working at their current job. Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are considering are convenient enough to meet your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends in Georgia, make sure that the schools you are reviewing provide those alternatives. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, confirm that the school you choose offers part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the policy is to make up classes if you you miss any due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Find the Right Welding Vocational Program in Georgia
Picking the right welder school will probably be the most important 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 assess and compare among the programs you are looking at. It’s a must that any welder training program that you are reviewing includes a considerable amount of hands-on training. Classes need to be small in size and every student must have their personal welding machine to train on. Classroom teaching needs to offer a real-world perspective, and the course of study should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Programs differ in duration and the type of credential provided, so you will have to ascertain what length of program and degree or certificate will best serve your needs. Each training program provides unique possibilities for certification as well. Probably the best approach to research your final list of schools is to go to 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 school you decide on is the ideal one for you. With the right training, hard work and commitment, the final outcome will be a new career as a professional welder in Georgia.