How to Choose a Welder Certificate Program near Alabaster Alabama
Choosing the ideal welder trade school near Alabaster AL is an important first step to starting your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are a lot of schools to pick from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more notably, once you have fine tuned your alternatives, how do you select the best one? Many people start by reviewing the schools that are nearest to their homes. When they have identified those that are within commuting distance, they gravitate toward the least expensive one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are crucial issues when reviewing welder vocational schools, but they are not the only ones. Other considerations 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 develop 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.
Welding Degree and Certificate Training Programs
There are multiple options available to obtain training as a welder in a trade or vocational school. You can earn 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 offered combined with an apprenticeship program. Below are brief summaries of the most prevalent welding programs offered in the Alabaster AL.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are generally made available by trade and technical schools and take about a year to finish. They are more hands-on training in nature, created largely to develop welding skills. They can provide a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or supplemental skills for experienced welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take 2 years to complete and are usually offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology offers a more extensive education than the certificate or diploma while still supplying the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
A number of states and municipalities do have licensing prerequisites for welders, therefore be sure to find out for your location of future employment. As required, the welding school you choose should ready you for any licensing exams that you will have to take in addition to supplying the proper training to become a qualified welder.
Welder Certification Choices
There are a number of organizations that offer welder certifications, which test the knowledge and skill level of those applying. A large number of Alabaster AL employers not only expect a certificate or degree from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a renowned agency such as the American Welding Society (AWS). A variety of certifications are available based upon the kind of work that the welder performs. A few of the skills that certification can attest to are the welder’s ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with certain metal thicknesses
- Work with various kinds of welds
- Work according to contract specifications
As formerly mentioned, some states, cities or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those requiring licensing, some additionally require certification for various types of work. Certification is also a way to prove to employers that you are a highly skilled and qualified welder. So just as with licensing, check the requirements for your local area and make certain that the welding vocational school you choose preps you for certification if needed.
How to Decide on a Welding Trade Program
Once you have decided on the credential you would like to earn, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can begin to evaluate schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are a large number of welding trade and vocational schools in the Alabaster AL area. That’s why it’s essential to determine up front what qualifications your selected school must have. We have already covered two important ones that most people consider first, which are location and tuition cost. As stated, although they are essential qualifications, they are not the only ones that need to be considered. After all, the school you decide on is going to furnish the education that will be the foundation of your new career as a welder. So below are some additional factors you may need to consider before selecting a welder trade school.
Accreditation. It’s essential that the welder trade school you pick is accredited by either a regional or a national organization. There are two standard types of accreditation. The school may receive Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a specific program the school has, such as Welding Technology. So make sure that the program you pick is accredited, not just the school itself. Additionally, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, such as the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping make sure that you get a superior education, the accreditation can also help in getting financial aid or student loans, which are frequently unavailable in Alabaster AL for schools that are not accredited. Finally, for those states or municipalities that mandate licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited as well.
Apprenticeship and Job Assistance Programs. A large number of welding degree or diploma programs are offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Other schools will help place you in an apprenticeship or a job after graduation. Find out if the schools you are looking at help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. These schools must have partnerships 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 placements. These programs can help students find employment and establish relationships within the Alabaster AL welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that begin an educational program and complete it. It’s essential that the welder program you select has a high completion rate. A lower rate might signify that the students who enrolled in 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 quality of training. A high job placement rate will not only affirm that the program has a good reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of Alabaster AL contacts to assist students obtain employment or apprenticeships upon graduation.
Up-to-date Equipment and Facilities. Once you have limited your choice of welding schools to two or three possibilities, you should consider going to the campuses to inspect their facilities. Verify that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are modern. In particular, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be using on the job. If you are not sure 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 Alabaster AL welding contractor if they can give you a few pointers.
School Location. Although we already briefly talked about the relevance of location, there are a few additional issues that we should address. You should bear in mind that unless you can relocate, the welder school you choose must be within driving distance of your Alabaster AL home. If you do opt to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to moving expenses there could be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly true for welder degree programs offered by community colleges. Additionally, if the school offers a job placement or apprenticeship program, more than likely 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 desire to work.
Smaller Classes. Individualized instruction is essential for a manual trade such as welding. It’s easy to get lost in larger classes and not get much personalized training. Ask what the average class size is for the welding schools you are looking at. Ask if you can attend a few classes so that you can experience how much individual attention the students are getting. While there, speak with several of the students and get their opinions. Also, talk to a couple of the trainers and ask what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they have earned.
Convenient Class Schedules. Many people learn a new profession while still employed at their current job. Confirm that the class schedules for the schools you are looking at are flexible enough to satisfy your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Alabaster AL, confirm that the schools you are considering 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 work, sickness or family emergencies.
Will You Be Attending Welding School Near Alabaster AL?
Perhaps you live in the Alabaster 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.
Alabaster is a city and southern suburb of Birmingham in Shelby County, Alabama, United States. At the 2010 census, the population was 30,352. According to the 2013 Census Estimates, the city had a population of 31,342. Alabaster is the 16th largest city in Alabama by number of residents.
Alabaster mostly occupies the Cahaba and Opossum Valleys, which are divided by the Pine Ridge that runs north to south. To the east and west, both valleys are flanked by parallel mountain ridges that locally run north to south, but are a part of a larger system of ridges that generally runs north-east to south-west (the tailing ends of the Appalachian foothills). The valleys are drained by small creeks (Buck Creek, Beaverdam Creek) which flow into the Cahaba River.
George L. Scott, Sr., an Alabaster pioneer, owned and operated Alabaster Lime Co. His shipping point was known as “Scott Rock.” Later, housing was built to accommodate some of the employees, and the community acquired its name Alabaster from the "white calcium carbonate mineral." The First Bank of Alabaster opened in 1952, and its president was George L. Scott, Jr., who later became the first mayor of Alabaster. The first attempt in 1952 to incorporate Alabaster failed. In January 1953, the petition was again filed, and on February 23, 1953, Alabaster was officially incorporated with a favorable vote of 79 to 23, and 427 residing inhabitants. In 1955, the Alabaster Water and Gas Board was formed.
Online Welder Training
Welding is very much a manual kind of vocation, and consequently not very suitable for online training. However, there are a few online welding programs offered by certain community colleges and vocational schools in the greater Alabaster AL area that can count toward a degree or certificate program. These classes mainly cover such subjects as reading blueprints, safety,, and metallurgy. They can help provide a beginner a foundation to initiate their education and training. Nevertheless, the most significant point is that you can’t learn how to weld or work with welding materials unless you actually do it. Naturally that can’t be done online. These skills need to 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 earn a more advanced degree. So if you should find an online welding certificate or degree program, be extremely careful and confirm that the bulk of the training is done on campus or in a workshop type of environment.
Select the Ideal Welding Technical School Alabaster AL
Choosing the best welding training program will undoubtedly be the most critical decision you will make to begin your new profession. As we have addressed in this article, there are a number of things that you will need to evaluate and compare among the programs you are reviewing. It’s a must that any welding training that you are considering includes a lot of hands-on instruction. Classes should be small in size and each student must have their personal welding machine to train with. Classroom teaching should provide a real-world frame of reference, and the curriculum should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Training programs vary in length and the kind of credential offered, so you will have to determine what length of program and credential will best satisfy your needs. Every training program offers different possibilities for certification as well. Probably the best approach to research your final list of schools is to check out each campus and talk with the students and instructors. Take the time to sit in on some classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the training program you decide on is the best one for you. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, the final result will be a new trade as a professional welder in Alabaster AL.