How to Find the Right Welder Degree Program near Ashland 36251
Enrolling in the right welder school near Ashland AL is an important first step to starting your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are so many welding schools to select from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more importantly, once you have narrowed down your alternatives, how do you pick the right one? Most people start by checking out the schools that are closest to their homes. When they have identified those that are within commuting distance, they are drawn toward the least costly one. Yes, location and tuition cost are necessary considerations when evaluating welder trade schools, but they are not the only ones. Other concerns include such things as reputation, accreditation and job placement rates. So before starting your search for a trade school to become a welder, it’s sensible 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 Certificate and Degree Programs
There are a number of options to obtain training as a welder in a technical or trade school in the Ashland area. 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 programs than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Following are brief summaries of the most typical welding programs offered in Alabama.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are usually offered by trade and technical schools and require about 1 year to complete. They are more hands-on training in scope, created primarily 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 two 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 readies students to enter the workforce.
Many states and municipalities do have licensing requirements for welders, therefore be sure to find out for Ashland or your location of future employment. If required, the welding school you pick should prep you for any licensing exams that you will have to take in addition to supplying the suitable training to become a professional welder in Alabama.
Welder Certification Choices
There are a number of organizations that provide welding certifications, which test the knowledge and skill level of those applying. A large number of Ashland area employers not only demand a degree or certificate from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a highly regarded organization such as the American Welding Society (AWS). A wide range of certifications are available based on the type of work that the welder performs. A few of the things that certification can acknowledge are the welder’s ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with certain metal thicknesses
- Work with various types of welds
- Work according to contract specifications
As earlier stated, various states, cities 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 prove to Ashland employers that you are a highly skilled and qualified welder. So just as with licensing, look into the requirements for your local area and confirm that the welding technical school you select readies you for certification if needed.
Online Welding Certificate and Degree Programs
Welding is very much a hands-on type of trade, and therefore not extremely compatible with training online. Even so, there are a few online welding courses offered by certain community colleges and technical schools that can be credited toward a certificate or degree program. These classes mainly deal with such topics as safety, reading blueprints, and metallurgy. They can help provide a beginner a foundation to initiate their education and training. However, the most important point is that you can’t learn how to weld or work with welding materials unless you actually do it. Clearly that can’t be accomplished online in your Ashland home. These skills need to be learned in an on-campus environment or in an apprenticeship. Online or distance learning is better suited for experienced welders that would like to advance their knowledge or perhaps obtain a more advanced degree. So if you should find an online welding degree or certificate program, be very careful and confirm that the bulk of the training is done on campus or in a workshop type of setting.
How to Pick a Welder Trade School
When you have decided on the credential you want to attain, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can begin to assess schools. As you probably know, there are numerous welding trade and vocational schools in the Ashland area. That’s why it’s important to determine up front what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have previously covered a couple of important ones that most people consider first, which are location and tuition cost. As mentioned, although they are very important qualifiers, they are not the only ones that should be looked at. After all, the school you select is going to provide the education that will be the foundation of your new profession as a welder. So below are some additional factors you might need to evaluate before selecting a welding trade school.
Accreditation. It’s essential that the welder vocational school you pick is accredited by either a regional or a national agency. There are 2 standard types 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 make sure that the program you choose is accredited, not just the school alone. Also, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, such as the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). In addition to helping make sure that you get a quality education, the accreditation may also assist in securing financial aid or student loans, which are often not offered for non-accredited schools in the 36251 area. Finally, for those states or municipalities that mandate licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited also.
Job Placement and Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous welder diploma or degree programs are provided combined with an apprenticeship program. Some other schools will assist in placing you in an apprenticeship or a job after graduation. Ask if the schools you are reviewing help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. These schools should have partnerships with local unions and various metal working businesses to which they can refer their students. Older schools may have a larger network of graduates that they can utilize for referrals. These programs can help students find employment in the Ashland area and establish relationships within the local welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that enroll in an instructional program and complete it. It’s crucial that the welding school you pick has a higher completion rate. A low rate could signify that the students who enrolled in the program were dissatisfied with the training, the teachers, 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 verify that the program has an excellent reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of contacts to help students secure employment or apprenticeships in the Ashland area after graduation.
Up-to-date Equipment and Facilities. Once you have narrowed down your choice of welder programs to 2 or 3 possibilities, you should consider going to the campuses to look over their facilities. Make sure 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 using on the job. If you are unsure what to look for, and are already in an apprenticeship program, ask the master welder you are working under for guidance. If not, ask a local Ashland welding contractor if they can give you a few tips.
School Location. Although we already briefly covered the relevance of location, there are a couple of additional points that we should address. You should keep in mind that unless you are able to move, the welding school you choose needs to be within commuting distance of your Ashland home. If you do choose to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides relocation costs there might be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially the case for welding certificate programs offered by community colleges. Furthermore, if the school provides an apprenticeship or job placement program, more than 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 subsequently will wish to work.
Small Classes. One-on-one instruction is important for a hands-on trade such as welding. It’s possible to get overlooked in larger classes and not receive much personalized training. Ask what the average class size is for the welder programs you are looking at. Ask if you can sit in on a few classes so that you can witness just how much individual attention the students are getting. While there, speak with a few of the students and get their evaluations. Also, talk with a couple of the teachers and find out what their welding experience has been in Alabama and what credentials and certifications they have earned.
Flexible Class Schedules. Lots of folks learn a new profession while still working at their current job. Make sure 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 Ashland, make sure that the schools you are looking at provide those options. If you can only attend part-time, verify that the school you pick offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the policy is to make up classes should you miss any because of illness, work or family responsibilities.
Select the Ideal Welding Technical School Ashland ALChoosing the best welder school will probably be the most critical decision you will make to begin your new profession. As we have discussed in this article, there are a number of things that you will need to examine and compare among the programs you are considering. It's a prerequisite that any welder school that you are evaluating includes a good deal of hands-on training. Classes need to be smaller in size and each student should have their personal welding machine to train on. Classroom education should offer a real-world context, and the curriculum should be current and conform with industry standards. Courses differ in length and the type of credential provided, so you will have to determine what length of program and credential will best satisfy your needs. Every program provides different possibilities for certification as well. Probably the ideal means to research your short list of schools is to check out each campus and speak with the faculty and students. Invest some time to attend some classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the program you pick is the ideal one for you. With the right training, effort and commitment, the end result will be a new occupation as a professional welder.