How to Select a Welder Trade School near Saginaw Alabama
Locating the right welding vocational school near Saginaw AL is an essential first step to starting your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are numerous schools to pick from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more notably, once you have fine tuned your choices, how do you pick the best one? Many people start by looking at the schools that are closest to their residences. When they have located those that are within commuting distance, they gravitate toward the least costly one. Yes, location and tuition cost are crucial considerations when reviewing welding trade schools, but they are not the only ones. Other concerns include such things as reputation, accreditation and job placement rates. So before initiating your search for a trade school to become a welder, it’s wise to create a list of qualifications that your chosen school must have. But before we explore our due diligence checklist, let’s cover a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welder Degree and Certificate Programs
There are a number of options to obtain training as a welder in a trade or technical school. You can earn a a certificate, a diploma or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are available in Welding Engineering or Welding Technology, but are more advanced courses than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Following are short summaries of the most prevalent welding programs available in the Saginaw AL.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are usually made available by trade and technical schools and take about 1 year to complete. They are more hands-on training in scope, designed mainly to develop welding skills. They can provide 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 furnishes a more well-rounded education than the diploma or certificate while still furnishing the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
Some municipalities and states do have licensing prerequisites for welders, so be sure to check for your location of future employment. If needed, the welder school you choose should ready you for any licensing exams that you will have to pass in addition to providing the appropriate training to become a qualified welder.
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 Saginaw AL 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 on the kind of work that the welder performs. Some of the things that certification can attest to are the welder’s ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specific metal thicknesses
- Work with certain kinds of welds
- Perform based on contract specifications
As previously stated, various states, cities or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those mandating licensing, some additionally require certification for different kinds of work. Certification is also a means to prove to employers that you are an extremely skilled and qualified welder. So similarly as with licensing, check the requirements for your location and confirm that the welder technical school you decide on preps you for certification if needed.
How to Select a Welding Vocational School
Once you have chosen the credential you would like to earn, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can begin to compare schools. As you can imagine, there are a large number of welding vocational and trade schools in the Saginaw AL area. That’s why it’s necessary to decide in advance what qualifications your selected school must have. We have already discussed 2 important ones that most people look at first, which are location and tuition cost. As stated, although they are very important qualifiers, they are not the only ones that must be considered. After all, the school you decide on is going to provide the education that will be the foundation of your new career as a welder. So below are more factors you may need to consider before selecting a welding technical school.
Accreditation. It’s essential that the welder vocational school you select is accredited by either a regional or a national organization. There are 2 basic types 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 instance Welding Technology. So verify that the program you select is accredited, not just the school alone. Additionally, 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 ensure that you get a superior education, the accreditation can also help in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently not offered in Saginaw AL for schools that are not accredited. Also, for those states or municipalities that require licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited also.
Apprenticeship and Job Placement Programs. Numerous welding degree or diploma programs are offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Some other schools will help place you in a job or an apprenticeship after graduation. Ask if the schools you are looking at help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. The schools should have partnerships with local unions and various 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 help students find employment and establish relationships within the Saginaw AL welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that start an educational program and complete it. It’s essential that the welding program you choose has a high completion rate. A lower rate could indicate that the students who joined the program were unhappy with the training, 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 confirm that the school has a good reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of Saginaw AL contacts to assist students secure apprenticeships or employment after graduation.
Modern Equipment and Facilities. After you have decreased your choice of welding programs to two or three possibilities, you should consider visiting the campuses to look over their facilities. Verify that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be taught on are up-to-date. Specifically, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be working with on the job. If you are uncertain 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 Saginaw AL welding professional if they can give you a few tips.
School Location. Even though we already briefly covered the significance of location, there are a few additional points that we need to deal with. You should bear in mind that unless you can move, the welding school you pick needs to be within driving distance of your Saginaw AL home. If you do opt to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation expenses there may be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially true for welding degree programs offered by community colleges. Also, if the school offers an apprenticeship or job placement program, often their placements are within the school’s local community. So the location of the school should be in a region or state where you subsequently will want to work.
Smaller Classes. Personalized instruction is important for a manual trade such as welding. It’s possible to be lost in bigger classes and not obtain much one-on-one instruction. Ask what the typical class size is for the welding programs you are reviewing. Ask if you can sit in on some classes so that you can observe just how much individual attention the students are getting. While there, speak with some of the students and get their feedback. Similarly, chat with some of the instructors and ask what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they have earned.
Convenient Class Scheduling. Many people learn a new profession while still employed at their present job. Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are considering are flexible enough to satisfy your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Saginaw AL, make sure that the schools you are reviewing provide those alternatives. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you choose offers part-time enrollment. Also, check to see what the policy is to make up classes should you miss any due to illness, work or family circumstances.
Will You Be Attending Welding School Near Saginaw AL?
Perhaps you live in the Saginaw Alabama area, or have decided to enroll in a Welding Program that has a campus near there. In either case, you may find this bit of history both interesting and informative.
Saginaw is an unincorporated community 2.5 miles north of Calera in Shelby County, Alabama, United States with zip code 35137. It is part of the Birmingham-Hoover-Cullman Combined Statistical Area. It is located southeast of Alabaster on the east side of Interstate 65 at the intersection of State Route 70 and U.S. Route 31.
Saginaw is the home of the Saginaw Pipe Company, Inc., a major supplier of steel pipe, beams, tubing, and plate. The Dravo Lime Company quarry in Saginaw was honored for their outstanding safety record in the annual Sentinels of Safety awards program co-sponsored by the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) and the National Mining Association (NMA) in 1997 and 1999.
The U.S. Census bureau does not keep separate statistics for Saginaw. As of the census of 2000, for Block Group 2, Census Tract 306.09, Shelby County, Alabama, which is the census block group that includes the center of Saginaw, the total population was 1,684 people, with a racial makeup of 97.1% white, 2.2% black, and 0.7% mixed or other races.
Online Welder Training
Welding is truly a hands-on kind of profession, and therefore not very suitable for online training. Even so, there are a few online welding programs offered by certain community colleges and vocational schools in the greater Saginaw AL area that may be credited toward a degree or certificate program. These courses primarily cover such topics as reading blueprints, safety,, and metallurgy. They can help give a beginner a foundation to start their education and training. Nevertheless, the most critical point is that you can’t learn how to weld or handle welding materials until you actually do it. Naturally that can’t be performed online. These skills have to be learned in an on-campus setting or in an apprenticeship. Online or distance learning is more appropriate for experienced welders that desire to advance their knowledge or possibly earn a more advanced degree. So if you should discover an online welding degree or certificate program, be extremely cautious and make certain that the bulk of the training is done on campus or in a workshop type of setting.
Pick the Ideal Welding Vocational Program Saginaw AL
Selecting the best welder training program will undoubtedly be the most critical decision you will make to begin your new profession. As we have discussed in this article, there are several factors that you will need to assess and compare among the schools you are reviewing. It’s a must that any welding school that you are reviewing includes a considerable amount of hands-on training. Classes need to be smaller in size and each student should have their personal welding machine to train with. Classroom instruction needs to offer a real-world perspective, and the course of study should be current and in-line with industry standards. Training programs vary in duration and the type of credential offered, so you will need to ascertain what length of program and certificate or degree will best serve your needs. Each program offers different options for certification as well. Perhaps the best approach to research your short list of schools is to visit each campus and talk with the students and instructors. Invest some time to sit in on a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the school you pick is the best one for you. With the right training, hard work and dedication, the end result will be a new trade as a professional welder in Saginaw AL.