How to Select a Welding Degree Program near Calera 35040
Selecting the right welding technical school near Calera AL is an essential first step to launching your new career as a professional welder. But since there are numerous 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 right one? Most people start by checking out the schools that are closest to their residences. When they have found those that are within commuting distance, they are drawn toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and tuition cost are crucial concerns when examining welder vocational 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 develop a list of qualifications that your chosen school must have. But before we examine our due diligence checklist, let’s cover a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welder Degree and Certificate Programs
There are multiple alternatives available to obtain training as a welder in a trade or vocational school in the Calera area. You can obtain a diploma, a certificate or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are offered in Welding Technology or Welding Engineering, but are more advanced courses than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Following are short explanations of the most prevalent welding programs available in Alabama.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are usually offered by technical and trade schools and require about 1 year to finish. They are more hands-on training in scope, fashioned mainly to develop welding skills. They can furnish a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or supplemental skills for working welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take 2 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 prepares students to enter the workforce.
Many municipalities and states do have licensing requirements for welders, so be sure to find out for Calera or your location of potential employment. As required, the welder school you pick should prep you for any licensing exams that you will need to pass in addition to providing the proper training to become a professional welder in Alabama.
Welder Certification Alternatives
There are multiple institutions that offer welding certifications, which assess the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Numerous Calera area employers not only demand a degree or certificate from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a respected agency like the American Welding Society (AWS). A variety of certifications are available based upon the kind of work that the welder does. Just some of the things that certification can acknowledge are the welder’s ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specific metal thicknesses
- Work with various types of welds
- Operate according to contract specifications
As earlier stated, some cities, states or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those requiring licensing, a number additionally require certification for various kinds of work. Certification is also a way to demonstrate to Calera employers that you are an extremely skilled and knowledgeable welder. So just as with licensing, check the requirements for your local area and verify that the welder vocational school you choose prepares you for certification as needed.
Online Welding Schools
Welding is truly a hands-on kind of trade, and for that reason not very compatible with online training. Having said that, there are a small number of online welding courses offered by certain community colleges and trade schools that may count toward a certificate or degree program. These classes mainly cover such subjects as safety, reading blueprints, and metallurgy. They can help give a novice a basis to initiate their training and education. However, 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 in your Calera home. These skills have to be learned in an on-campus environment or in an apprenticeship. Online or distance learning is better suited for seasoned welders that desire 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 sure that the majority of the training is done on campus or in a workshop type of environment.
How to Pick a Welding Trade School
After you have chosen the credential you would like to attain, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can begin to assess schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are numerous welding vocational and trade schools in the Calera area. That’s why it’s necessary to establish in advance what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have already discussed a couple of important ones that many people look at first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As mentioned, although they are essential qualifiers, they are not the only ones that must be considered. After all, the school you choose is going to furnish the education that will be the foundation of your new profession as a welder. So following are more factors you might need to evaluate before selecting a welder trade school.
Accreditation. It’s extremely important that the welder tech school you choose is accredited by either a regional or a national agency. There are 2 standard kinds of accreditation. The school may receive Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on an individual program the school offers, for instance 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 recognized accrediting agency, like the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). In addition to helping ensure that you get a superior education, the accreditation can also help in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently not available for schools that are not accredited in the 35040 area. Also, for those states or municipalities that require licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited as well.
Job Assistance and Apprenticeship Programs. Many welder degree or certificate programs are provided combined with an apprenticeship program. Various other schools will assist in placing you in an apprenticeship or a job upon graduation. Ask if the schools you are reviewing assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. These schools should have associations with local unions and various 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 in the Calera area and develop relationships within the local welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that begin an academic program and complete it. It’s crucial that the welding school you pick has a high completion rate. A reduced rate could mean 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 a good indicator of the caliber of training. A higher job placement rate will not only verify that the school has an excellent reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of contacts to assist students obtain apprenticeships or employment in the Calera area upon graduation.
Modern Facilities and Equipment. Once you have decreased your selection of welding schools to two or three options, you should think about visiting the campuses to inspect their facilities. Verify that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are modern. In particular, the training equipment should be comparable to what you will be using in the field. If you are uncertain what to look for, and are already in an apprenticeship program, consult with the master welder you are working under for guidance. Otherwise, ask a local Calera welding contractor if they can give you some tips.
School Location. Although we previously briefly discussed the importance of location, there are a couple of additional issues that we should address. You should bear in mind that unless you have the ability to move, the welding program you choose needs to be within commuting distance of your Calera home. If you do decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides moving expenses there might be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly true for welder certificate programs offered by community colleges. Furthermore, if the school offers an apprenticeship or job placement program, often 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 subsequently will wish 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 obtain much personalized instruction. Ask what the usual class size is for the welder schools you are considering. Ask if you can attend a couple of classes so that you can experience how much personal attention the students are receiving. While there, speak with a few of the students and get their opinions. Similarly, speak with some of the instructors and ask what their welding experience has been in Alabama and what credentials and certifications they have earned.
Convenient Class Scheduling. Lots of folks learn a new profession while still employed at their present job. Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are flexible enough to satisfy your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Calera, verify that the schools you are reviewing provide those choices. If you can only enroll part-time, make sure that the school you decide on offers part-time enrollment. Also, check to see what the protocol is to make up classes if you you miss any due to work, illness or family circumstances.
Pick the Ideal Welding Tech Program Calera ALSelecting the best welder school will undoubtedly be the most important decision you will make to start your new career. As we have discussed in this article, there are a number of things that you will need to assess and compare among the programs you are reviewing. It's a prerequisite that any welder training that you are examining includes a good deal of hands-on instruction. Classes should be smaller in size and each student must have their personal welding machine to train with. Classroom instruction needs to provide a real-world context, and the curriculum should be current and conform with industry standards. Programs vary in length and the type of credential offered, so you will have to determine what length of program and certificate or degree will best fulfill your needs. Each program provides unique options for certification as well. Probably the best approach to research your short list of schools is to visit each campus and speak with the teachers and students. 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 pick is the right one for you. With the right training, hard work and commitment, the final outcome will be a new occupation as a professional welder.