How to Find the Right Welding Technical School near Bessemer 35020
Finding the ideal welder school near Bessemer AL is an essential first step to launching your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are a lot of welding schools to pick from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more importantly, once you have narrowed down your options, how do you select the best one? Most prospective students start by checking out the schools that are nearest to their homes. When they have identified those that are within driving distance, they gravitate toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are important issues when examining welder vocational schools, but they are not the only ones. Other considerations include such things as reputation, accreditation and job placement rates. So before starting your search for a vocational school to become a welder, it’s prudent to establish a list of qualifications that your selected school must have. But before we explore our due diligence checklist, let’s talk a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welding Degree and Certificate Training Classes
There are multiple options to obtain training as a welder in a trade or technical school in the Bessemer area. 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 combined with an apprenticeship program. Following are short descriptions of the most prevalent welding programs available in Alabama.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are generally made available by trade and technical schools and require about a year to finish. They are more hands-on training in nature, created primarily to develop 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 two years to finish and are usually offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology furnishes a more extensive education than the certificate or diploma while still supplying the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
Some municipalities and states do have licensing prerequisites for welders, therefore be sure to check for Bessemer or your location of potential employment. As required, the welder school you pick should prep you for any licensing examinations that you will have to take in addition to furnishing the appropriate training to become a professional welder in Alabama.
Welder Certification Options
There are various institutions that provide welding certifications, which test the knowledge and skill level of those applying. Many Bessemer area employers not only expect a degree or certificate from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a respected organization like the American Welding Society (AWS). A wide range of certifications are offered based upon the type of work that the welder performs. Just some of the skills that certification can attest to are the welder’s ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with certain metal thicknesses
- Work with certain types of welds
- Work based on contract specifications
As already stated, some states, cities or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those calling for licensing, many additionally require certification for various types of work. Certification is also a means to demonstrate to Bessemer employers that you are a highly skilled and experienced welder. So similarly as with licensing, check the requirements for your local area and make certain that the welding trade school you select preps you for certification as needed.
Online Welding Certificate and Degree Programs
Welding is very much a hands-on type of vocation, and therefore not extremely compatible with online training. Having said that, there are a small number of online welding courses offered by specific community colleges and technical schools that can count toward a degree or certificate program. These classes mainly deal with such topics as reading blueprints, safety,, and metallurgy. They can help provide a beginner a foundation to initiate their training and education. However, the most important point is that you can’t learn how to weld or work with welding materials until you actually do it. Naturally that can’t be performed online in your Bessemer home. These skills have to be learned in an on-campus setting or in an apprenticeship. Online or distance learning is better suited for seasoned welders that desire to advance their knowledge or possibly obtain a more advanced degree. So if you should come across an online welding degree or certificate program, be very cautious and confirm that the bulk of the training is done on campus or in a workshop type of setting.
How to Choose a Welder Tech Program
After you have decided on the credential you would like to earn, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can start to compare schools. As you probably know, there are many welder trade and vocational schools in the Bessemer area. That’s why it’s necessary to decide up front what qualifications your selected school must have. We have already discussed two significant ones that most people look at first, which are location and tuition cost. As stated, although they are essential qualifications, they are not the only ones that must be considered. After all, the program you decide on is going to provide the instruction that will be the foundation of your new profession as a welder. So following are more factors you may need to consider before selecting a welding technical school.
Accreditation. It’s extremely important that the welding tech school you select is accredited by either a regional or a national organization. There are 2 basic kinds of accreditation. The school may receive Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a single program the school has, for example Welding Technology. So make certain that the program you select is accredited, not just the school itself. Also, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, for example the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). In addition to helping make sure that you obtain an excellent education, the accreditation can also assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are frequently unavailable for schools that are not accredited in the 35020 area. Also, for those states or local governments that mandate licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited as well.
Apprenticeship and Job Assistance Programs. A large number of welding degree or diploma programs are offered combined with an apprenticeship program. Various other schools will assist in placing you in a job or an apprenticeship after graduation. Find out if the schools you are looking at help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. The schools must have relationships with local unions and various metal working businesses to which they can place 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 in the Bessemer area and develop relationships within the local welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that enroll in an educational program and complete it. It’s essential that the welder program you choose has a high completion rate. A reduced rate might mean that the students who were in the program were dissatisfied with the instruction, the teachers, or the facilities, and dropped out. The job placement rate is also a good indicator of the caliber of training. A high job placement rate will not only affirm that the program has a good reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of employer relationships to assist students obtain employment or apprenticeships in the Bessemer area after graduation.
Modern Facilities and Equipment. After you have limited your selection of welder programs to two or three options, you should think about visiting the campuses to look over their facilities. Confirm that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be trained on are up-to-date. Specifically, the training equipment should be comparable to what you will be using in the field. If you are not sure what to look for, and are already in an apprenticeship program, ask the master welder you are working under for guidance. Otherwise, ask a local Bessemer welding professional if they can give you a few suggestions.
School Location. Even though we already briefly talked about the relevance of location, there are a couple of additional points that we need to address. You should keep in mind that unless you can move, the welder program you select must be within commuting distance of your Bessemer home. If you do decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides relocation expenses there could be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly the case for welding diploma 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 local community. So the location of the school should be in an area or state where you ultimately will wish to work.
Small Classes. Personalized instruction is essential for a hands-on trade such as welding. It’s possible to get lost in bigger classes and not get much one-on-one instruction. Find out what the average class size is for the welder programs you are considering. Inquire if you can sit in on some classes so that you can experience just how much individual attention the students are receiving. While there, speak with several of the students and get their opinions. Also, chat with a couple of the trainers and ask what their welding experience has been in Alabama and what certifications and credentials they hold.
Convenient Class Schedules. Some people learn a new profession while still working at their present job. Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are flexible enough to satisfy your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Bessemer, confirm that the schools you are considering offer those alternatives. If you can only attend part-time, verify that the school you choose offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the policy is to make up classes if you you miss any due to work, sickness or family circumstances.
Select the Right Welding Technical Program Bessemer ALPicking the ideal welder training program will undoubtedly be the most critical decision you will make to start your new trade. As we have covered in this article, there are a number of things that you will need to evaluate and compare among the schools you are looking at. It's a prerequisite that any welding school that you are reviewing includes a considerable amount of hands-on instruction. Classes should be small in size and every student should have their own welding machine to train with. Classroom teaching needs to provide a real-world context, and the training program should be current and in-line with industry standards. Courses vary in length and the type of credential offered, so you will have to decide what length of program and credential will best fulfill your needs. Each training program offers different possibilities for certification as well. Probably the best way to research your final list of schools is to visit each campus and talk with the students and instructors. Take the time to monitor a few classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the school you decide on is the best one for you. With the proper training, effort and dedication, the final result will be a new career as a professional welder.