How to Find the Right Welder Certification Course near Tuscaloosa Alabama
Enrolling in the ideal welder school near Tuscaloosa AL is an essential first step to starting your new career as a professional welder. But since there are a lot of schools to select from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more importantly, once you have fine tuned your options, how do you select the best one? Many prospective students begin by reviewing the schools that are nearest to their residences. Once they have located those that are within commuting distance, they are drawn toward the least expensive one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are important issues when evaluating welding trade schools, but they are not the only ones. Other concerns include such things as accreditation, reputation and job placement rates. So before beginning your search for a vocational school to become a welder, it’s sensible to develop 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.
Welder Degree and Certificate Training
There are several options to get training as a welder in a trade or technical school. You can receive 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 made available in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Following are brief descriptions of the most typical welding programs available in the Tuscaloosa AL.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are generally made available by trade and technical schools and take about one year to complete. They are more hands-on training in scope, created largely 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 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 don’t forget to find out for your location of potential employment. If required, the welding school you pick should ready you for any licensing exams that you will need to pass in addition to supplying the suitable training to become a qualified welder.
Welding Certification Alternatives
There are a number of institutions that provide welder certifications, which evaluate the skill level and knowledge of those applying. A large number of Tuscaloosa AL employers not only demand a certificate or degree from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a renowned agency such as the American Welding Society (AWS). A wide range of certifications are offered dependent on the type of work that the welder performs. Some of the skills that certification can acknowledge are the welder’s ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specific metal thicknesses
- Work with various kinds of welds
- Operate in compliance with contract specifications
As earlier stated, many cities, states or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those mandating licensing, many also require certification for various types of work. Certification is also a way to demonstrate to employers that you are an extremely skilled and experienced welder. So just as with licensing, look into the requirements for your location and make sure that the welder trade school you select prepares you for certification if needed.
How to Decide on a Welder Vocational School
When you have decided on the credential you want to attain, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can begin to compare schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are numerous welder trade and vocational schools in the Tuscaloosa AL area. That’s why it’s essential to establish up front what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have previously covered a couple of important ones that many people consider first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As stated, although they are very important qualifications, they are not the only ones that need to be looked at. After all, the program you select is going to furnish the training that will be the foundation of your new profession as a welder. So below are some additional factors you might want to evaluate before choosing a welder tech school.
Accreditation. It’s essential that the welder vocational school you choose is accredited by either a regional or a national organization. There are 2 standard kinds of accreditation. The school may attain Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a single program the school has, such as Welding Technology. So verify that the program you select is accredited, not just the school alone. Also, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, like the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). In addition to helping ensure that you receive a superior education, the accreditation may also help in getting financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable in Tuscaloosa AL for non-accredited schools. Finally, for those states or local governments that require licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited also.
Apprenticeship and Job Placement Programs. Numerous welding certificate or degree programs are provided in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Various other schools will assist in placing you in a job or an apprenticeship upon graduation. Find out if the schools you are reviewing assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. The schools must have partnerships with local unions and other metal working businesses to which they can refer their students. More established schools may have a more substantial network of graduates that they can utilize for placements. These programs can assist students in finding employment and develop associations within the Tuscaloosa AL welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that start an educational program and finish it. It’s important that the welder school you pick has a higher completion rate. A reduced rate may signify that the students who enrolled in the program were unhappy with the instruction, the instructors, or the facilities, and dropped out. The job placement rate is also an indication of the caliber of training. A higher job placement rate will not only affirm that the program has a good reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of Tuscaloosa AL contacts to assist students obtain employment or apprenticeships upon graduation.
Modern Equipment and Facilities. Once you have narrowed down your choice of welding programs to 2 or 3 possibilities, you should consider going to the campuses to evaluate their facilities. Verify that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be instructed on are modern. Specifically, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be using on the job. If you are uncertain what to look for, and are currently in an apprenticeship program, consult with the master welder you are working under for guidance. Otherwise, ask a local Tuscaloosa AL welding contractor if they can give you a few pointers.
School Location. Even though we previously briefly discussed the relevance of location, there are a couple of additional issues that we should deal with. You should keep in mind that unless you have the ability to move, the welding school you pick needs to be within driving distance of your Tuscaloosa AL home. If you do opt to attend an out-of-state school, besides relocation expenses there could be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially true for welding diploma 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 should be in an area or state where you subsequently will want to work.
Small Classes. One-on-one 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. Ask what the usual class size is for the welder schools you are looking at. Inquire if you can sit in on a couple of classes so that you can observe how much individual attention the students are getting. While there, talk with several of the students and get their evaluations. Also, chat with some of the trainers and ask what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they hold.
Flexible Class Scheduling. Lots of folks learn a new profession while still working at their current job. Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are looking at are convenient enough to meet your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Tuscaloosa AL, make sure that the schools you are looking at offer those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, confirm that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the protocol is to make up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Will You Be Attending Welding School Near Tuscaloosa AL?
Perhaps you live in the Tuscaloosa 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.
Tuscaloosa (/tʌskəˈluːsə/ TUS-kə-LOO-sə) is a city in and the seat of Tuscaloosa County in west central Alabama (in the southeastern United States). Located on the Black Warrior River at the Atlantic Seaboard fall line of the Piedmont, it is the fifth-largest city in Alabama, with an estimated population of 100,287 in 2017. The city was originally known as Tuskaloosa until the early 20th century.
Incorporated as a town on December 13, 1819, it was named after Tuskaloosa, the chief of a band of Muskogean-speaking people. They battled and were defeated by forces of Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto in 1540 in the Battle of Mabila, thought to have been located in what is now central Alabama. Tuscaloosa served as Alabama's capital city from 1826 to 1846.
Tuscaloosa is the regional center of industry, commerce, healthcare, and education for the area of west-central Alabama known as West Alabama. It is the principal city of the Tuscaloosa Metropolitan Statistical Area, which includes Tuscaloosa, Hale and Pickens counties. In 2013 its estimated metro population was 235,628. Tuscaloosa is also the home of The University of Alabama, Stillman College and Shelton State Community College. While the city attracted international attention when Mercedes-Benz announced it would build its first automotive assembly plant in North America in Tuscaloosa County, the University of Alabama remains the dominant economic and cultural engine in the city.
Online Welding Courses
Welding is truly a hands-on type of trade, and consequently not very suitable for training online. Even so, there are a few online welding classes offered by certain community colleges and vocational schools in the greater Tuscaloosa AL area that can be credited toward a certificate or degree program. These courses primarily cover such subjects as safety, reading blueprints, and metallurgy. They can help give a beginner a basis to begin their training and education. Nevertheless, the most significant point is that you can’t learn how to weld or handle welding materials until you actually do it. Clearly 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 want to advance their knowledge or possibly obtain a more advanced degree. So if you should find an online welding certificate or degree program, be very careful and make sure that the greater part of the training is done on campus or in a workshop type of environment.
Pick the Right Welding Vocational Program Tuscaloosa AL
Selecting the best welding school will undoubtedly be the most important decision you will make to start your new profession. As we have discussed in this article, there are many factors that you will need to assess and compare among the programs you are considering. It’s a necessity that any welder training that you are reviewing includes a good deal of hands-on training. Classes should be smaller in size and every student must have their own welding machine to train on. Classroom teaching needs to offer a real-world perspective, and the training program should be current and in-line with industry standards. Programs vary in length and the kind of credential offered, so you will need to ascertain what length of program and credential will best satisfy your needs. Each training program provides different possibilities for certification as well. Perhaps the best means to research your final list of schools is to go to each campus and talk with the faculty and students. Invest some time to monitor a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the training program you pick is the best one for you. With the right training, effort and dedication, the end outcome will be a new trade as a professional welder in Tuscaloosa AL.