How to Find the Right Welding Technical School near Columbiana 35051
Locating the right welding trade school near Columbiana AL is an essential first step to beginning your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are a lot of welding schools to select from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more importantly, once you have fine tuned your alternatives, how do you select the best one? Many prospective students begin by reviewing the schools that are closest to their homes. When they have located those that are within commuting distance, they are drawn toward the least expensive one. Yes, location and tuition cost are important issues when reviewing welding technical schools, but they are not the only ones. Other factors include such things as reputation, accreditation and job placement rates. So before beginning your search for a trade school to become a welder, it’s prudent to create a list of qualifications that your chosen school must have. But before we delve into our due diligence checklist, let’s talk a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welder Certificate and Degree Training Programs
There are several alternatives available to receive training as a welder in a trade or technical school in the Columbiana 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 degrees than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available combined with an apprenticeship program. Below are brief summaries of the most prevalent welding programs available in Alabama.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are normally made available by technical and trade schools and take about one year to finish. They are more hands-on training in scope, designed mainly to teach 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 furnishes a more extensive education than the certificate or diploma while still supplying the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
Some states and municipalities do have licensing requirements for welders, so don’t forget to check for Columbiana or your location of future employment. As needed, the welding school you pick should ready you for any licensing exams that you will have to take in addition to supplying the appropriate training to become a qualified welder in Alabama.
Welder Certification Options
There are multiple institutions that offer welding certifications, which evaluate the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Numerous Columbiana area employers not only expect a certificate or degree from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a highly regarded agency like the American Welding Society (AWS). A variety of certifications are offered dependent on the kind of work that the welder performs. Just some of the skills that certification can acknowledge are the welder’s ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specified metal thicknesses
- Work with specific types of welds
- Work based on contract specifications
As previously mentioned, many cities, states or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those calling for licensing, some additionally require certification for various kinds of work. Certification is also a means to demonstrate to Columbiana employers that you are an exceptionally skilled and experienced welder. So just as with licensing, look into the requirements for your local area and confirm that the welder trade school you select readies you for certification if needed.
Online Welding Classes
Welding is truly a manual type of vocation, and for that reason not extremely suitable for training online. Having said that, there are some online welding courses offered by various community colleges and technical schools that may be credited toward a degree or certificate program. These courses mainly cover such subjects as safety, reading blueprints, and metallurgy. They can help give a novice a basis to start their education and training. 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 Columbiana home. These skills must be learned in an on-campus environment or in an apprenticeship. Online or distance learning is more appropriate for seasoned welders that would like to advance their expertise or possibly obtain a more advanced degree. So if you should discover an online welding degree or certificate program, be very cautious 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 School
After you have chosen the credential you want to attain, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can begin to evaluate schools. As you can imagine, there are a large number of welding vocational and trade schools in the Columbiana area. That’s why it’s necessary to decide in advance what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have already covered 2 significant ones that many people consider first, which are location and tuition cost. As mentioned, although they are essential qualifications, they are not the only ones that need to be considered. After all, the program you select is going to provide the instruction that will be the foundation of your new vocation as a welder. So below are some additional factors you might want to evaluate before choosing a welding technical school.
Accreditation. It’s very important that the welder technical school you choose is accredited by either a regional or a national agency. There are 2 basic 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 offers, for example Welding Technology. So make certain that the program you select is accredited, not just the school itself. Additionally, 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). Besides helping ensure that you obtain a quality education, the accreditation may also help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited schools in the 35051 area. Finally, for those states or municipalities that mandate licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited as well.
Job Placement and Apprenticeship Programs. Many welder diploma or degree programs are provided in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Some other schools will help place 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 placement program. These schools must have partnerships with local unions and other metal working businesses to which they can place their students. Older schools may have a larger network of graduates that they can rely upon for placements. These programs can help students find employment in the Columbiana area and establish associations within the regional welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that enroll in an educational program and complete it. It’s crucial that the welding program you select has a higher completion rate. A reduced rate could signify that the students who joined the program were unhappy with the training, the instructors, or the facilities, and quit. The job placement rate is also an indication of the caliber of training. A higher job placement rate will not only verify that the school has an excellent reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of employer relationships to help students obtain employment or apprenticeships in the Columbiana area upon graduation.
Up-to-date Facilities and Equipment. After you have narrowed down your selection of welder schools to 2 or 3 options, you should consider going to the campuses to evaluate their facilities. Make sure that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be instructed on are up-to-date. Specifically, 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 Columbiana welding contractor if they can give you some tips.
School Location. Even though we already briefly covered the importance of location, there are a couple of additional issues that we need to address. You should bear in mind that unless you are able to relocate, the welder school you choose needs to be within driving distance of your Columbiana home. If you do opt to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there could be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially true for welder diploma programs offered by community colleges. Additionally, if the school offers an apprenticeship or job placement program, more than likely their placements are within the school’s regional community. So the location of the school should be in a region or state where you ultimately will wish to work.
Smaller Classes. Individualized training is essential for a manual trade such as welding. It’s possible to get overlooked in larger classes and not obtain much personalized training. Find out what the average class size is for the welding programs you are looking at. Ask if you can attend some classes so that you can experience how much individual attention the students are getting. While there, speak with some of the students and get their feedback. Similarly, talk with a couple of the teachers and find out what their welding experience has been in Alabama and what certifications and credentials they have earned.
Convenient Class Scheduling. Many 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 meet your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Columbiana, confirm that the schools you are reviewing offer those options. If you can only enroll part-time, make certain that the school you choose offers part-time enrollment. Also, check to see what the policy is to make up classes if you you miss any because of work, illness or family circumstances.
Pick the Best Welding Tech School Columbiana ALPicking the ideal welding training program will probably be the most important decision you will make to start your new trade. As we have addressed in this article, there are many factors that you will need to examine and compare between the schools you are considering. It's a prerequisite that any welding training program that you are reviewing includes a lot of hands-on training. Classes should be small in size and each student must have their personal welding machine to train with. Classroom education needs to provide a real-world context, and the training program should be current and conform with industry standards. Programs differ in duration and the kind of credential offered, so you will need to ascertain what length of program and degree or certificate will best fulfill your needs. Every training program provides unique options for certification as well. Perhaps the best means to research your final list of schools is to visit each campus and talk with the students and faculty. Take the time to attend some classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the program you choose is the ideal one for you. With the proper training, effort and dedication, the end outcome will be a new occupation as a professional welder.