How to Pick a Welding Technical School near Shelby 35143
Choosing the right welding trade school near Shelby AL is an essential first step to starting 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 notably, once you have narrowed down your options, how do you pick the right one? Most prospective students begin by looking at the schools that are closest to their residences. Once they have found those that are within driving distance, they are drawn 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 concerns include such things as accreditation, reputation and job placement rates. So before initiating your search for a vocational school to become a welder, it’s wise 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 Training Programs
There are a number of alternatives available to get training as a welder in a trade or technical school in the Shelby area. You can receive a diploma, a certificate or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are available in Welding Technology or Welding Engineering, but are more advanced programs than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available combined with an apprenticeship program. Below are short descriptions of the most typical welding programs offered in Alabama.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are normally made available by technical and trade schools and take about one year to complete. They are more hands-on training in scope, designed primarily 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 two years to complete and are most often offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology offers a more extensive 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, so don’t forget to find out for Shelby or your location of potential employment. As needed, the welding school you choose should ready you for any licensing examinations that you will have to take in addition to supplying the appropriate training to become a professional welder in Alabama.
Welding Certification Choices
There are multiple organizations that offer welding certifications, which evaluate the knowledge and skill level of those applying. Many Shelby area employers not only require a certificate or degree from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a renowned organization like the American Welding Society (AWS). A wide range of certifications are offered based upon the type of work that the welder does. Just some of the skills that certification can acknowledge are the welder’s ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with certain metal thicknesses
- Work with certain kinds of welds
- Work according to contract specifications
As formerly mentioned, various states, cities or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those mandating licensing, some also require certification for different kinds of work. Certification is also a way to prove to Shelby employers that you are a highly skilled and knowledgeable welder. So just as with licensing, check the requirements for your local area and make certain that the welder trade school you select readies you for certification as needed.
Online Welder Certificate and Degree Programs
Welding is very much a manual type of profession, and for that reason not extremely compatible with online training. However, there are a few online welding classes offered by specific community colleges and technical schools that may be credited toward a degree or certificate program. These courses mainly cover such topics as safety, reading blueprints, and metallurgy. They can help give a beginner a basis to start their training and education. However, the most important point is that you can’t learn how to weld or use welding materials until you actually do it. Naturally that can’t be accomplished online in your Shelby 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 want to advance their knowledge or perhaps attain a more advanced degree. So if you should find an online welding certificate or degree program, be extremely careful and make certain that the greater part of the training is done on campus or in a workshop type of environment.
How to Choose a Welder Technical School
As soon as you have decided on the credential you would like to attain, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can start to assess schools. As you can imagine, there are a large number of welding trade and technical schools in the Shelby area. That’s why it’s necessary to decide up front what qualifications your selected school must have. We have previously covered two important ones that most people look at first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As stated, although they are very important qualifications, they are not the only ones that should be considered. After all, the program you pick is going to furnish the education that will be the foundation of your new profession as a welder. So following are some additional factors you might need to evaluate before choosing a welding vocational school.
Accreditation. It’s extremely important that the welding vocational school you choose is accredited by either a national or a regional agency. There are two standard types of accreditation. The school may earn Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a single program the school offers, for instance Welding Technology. So confirm that the program you pick is accredited, not just the school itself. 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). Besides helping ensure that you receive a superior education, the accreditation might also help in getting financial assistance or student loans, which are often unavailable for schools that are not accredited in the 35143 area. Finally, for those states or municipalities that mandate licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited as well.
Apprenticeship and Job Placement Programs. A large number of welding degree or diploma programs are offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Some other schools will help place you in an apprenticeship or a job after graduation. Find out if the schools you are considering assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. The schools must have associations with local unions and other 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 assist students in finding employment in the Shelby area and establish relationships within the regional welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that start an academic program and finish it. It’s important that the welder program you select has a high completion rate. A reduced rate might signify that the students who were in the program were unhappy with the instruction, the instructors, or the facilities, and quit. The job placement rate is also a good indicator of the quality of training. A high job placement rate will not only affirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of employer relationships to assist students obtain employment or apprenticeships in the Shelby area upon graduation.
Up-to-date Facilities and Equipment. After you have narrowed down your choice of welder schools to two or three options, you should consider going to the campuses to evaluate their facilities. Confirm that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be taught on are modern. In particular, the training equipment should be comparable to what you will be using in the field. If you are unsure 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 Shelby welding professional if they can give you a few suggestions.
School Location. Although we already briefly discussed the importance of location, there are a few additional points that we should cover. You should remember that unless you are able to relocate, the welding school you select must be within driving distance of your Shelby home. If you do opt to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides relocation expenses there could be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly true for welder certificate programs offered by community colleges. Also, if the school provides an apprenticeship or job placement program, most 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 want to work.
Small Classes. One-on-one instruction is essential for a manual trade such as welding. It’s easy to be overlooked in bigger classes and not obtain much individualized training. Ask what the average class size is for the welder schools you are reviewing. Inquire if you can attend a couple of classes so that you can see how much personal attention the students are getting. While there, speak with some of the students and get their opinions. Similarly, talk with a few of the instructors and find out what their welding experience has been in Alabama and what certifications and credentials they have earned.
Flexible Class Schedules. Some people learn a new profession while still employed at their current job. Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are considering are convenient enough to satisfy your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Shelby, make certain that the schools you are assessing offer those alternatives. If you can only enroll part-time, confirm 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 illness, work or family responsibilities.
Select the Right Welding Tech Program Shelby ALPicking the best welding training program will undoubtedly be the most critical decision you will make to launch your new profession. As we have addressed in this article, there are many factors that you will need to assess and compare among the programs you are considering. It's a must that any welder training that you are examining 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 frame of reference, and the course of study should be current and conform with industry standards. Training programs differ in length and the kind of credential provided, so you will have to determine what length of program and certificate or degree will best fulfill your needs. Every training program offers unique options for certification as well. Perhaps the ideal way to research your final list of schools is to go to each campus and talk with the faculty and students. Invest some time to attend some classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the school you pick is the right one for you. With the proper training, effort and commitment, the final result will be a new career as a professional welder.