How to Select a Welding Degree Program near Andalusia Alabama
Selecting the right welding technical school near Andalusia AL is an essential first step to beginning your new career as a professional welder. But since there are so many schools to pick from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more importantly, once you have narrowed down your choices, how do you select the right one? Most people begin by reviewing the schools that are nearest to their residences. When they have located those that are within driving distance, they are drawn toward the least expensive one. Yes, location and tuition cost are necessary concerns when reviewing welding technical 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 vocational school to become a welder, it’s wise to develop a list of qualifications that your chosen school must have. But before we delve into our due diligence checklist, let’s cover a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welder Certificate and Degree Training
There are multiple options to obtain training as a welder in a trade or technical school. You can obtain a diploma, a certificate or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are offered in Welding Engineering or Welding Technology, 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 common welding programs available in the Andalusia AL.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are generally offered by trade and technical schools and take about one year to finish. They are more hands-on training in scope, created largely 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 two years to finish and are most often offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology furnishes a more well-rounded education than the certificate or diploma while still furnishing the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
A number of municipalities and states do have licensing requirements for welders, therefore be sure to find out for your location of potential employment. If required, the welder school you pick should prepare you for any licensing examinations that you will need to take in addition to providing the suitable training to become a professional welder.
Welder Certification Options
There are multiple organizations that provide welder certifications, which evaluate the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Numerous Andalusia AL employers not only demand a certificate or degree from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a highly regarded organization like the American Welding Society (AWS). A wide range of certifications are available based on the kind of work that the welder does. Some of the things that certification can attest to are the welder’s ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specified metal thicknesses
- Work with certain types of welds
- Operate in compliance with contract specifications
As earlier stated, various cities, states or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those calling for licensing, a number also require certification for various types of work. Certification is also a way to demonstrate to employers that you are a highly skilled and experienced welder. So just as with licensing, check the requirements for your location and verify that the welder tech school you select preps you for certification as needed.
How to Pick a Welder Trade Program
When you have decided on the credential you want to earn, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can start to evaluate schools. As you probably know, there are numerous welding trade and technical schools in the Andalusia AL area. That’s why it’s important to establish in advance what qualifications your chosen school must have. We have previously discussed a couple of important ones that most people consider first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As stated, although they are essential qualifiers, they are not the only ones that need to be considered. After all, the program you choose is going to furnish the training that will be the foundation of your new vocation as a welder. So following are more factors you might want to consider before selecting a welding technical school.
Accreditation. It’s essential that the welder technical school you decide on is accredited by either a national or a regional agency. There are 2 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 has, for instance Welding Technology. So verify that the program you choose 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 ensure that you get an excellent education, the accreditation might also help in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases not available in Andalusia AL for schools that are not accredited. Finally, for those states or local governments that require licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited also.
Apprenticeship and Job Assistance Programs. Many welder certificate or degree programs are offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Various other schools will help place you in a job or an apprenticeship upon 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 partnerships with local unions and other metal working businesses to which they can refer their students. Older schools may have a larger network of graduates that they can utilize for placements. These programs can assist students in finding employment and establish relationships within the Andalusia AL welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that start an instructional program and finish it. It’s important that the welding program you choose has a higher completion rate. A lower rate might indicate that the students who were in the program were dissatisfied with the instruction, 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 affirm that the program has a good reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of Andalusia AL employer relationships to assist students obtain employment or apprenticeships upon graduation.
Modern Facilities and Equipment. After you have limited your selection of welder schools to two or three possibilities, you should think out visiting the campuses to look over 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 similar to what you will be using in the field. If you are not sure what to look for, and are already in an apprenticeship program, consult with the master welder you are working under for guidance. If not, ask a local Andalusia AL welding contractor if they can give you some suggestions.
School Location. Although we previously briefly covered the importance of location, there are a few additional points that we need to cover. You should keep in mind that unless you have the ability to relocate, the welder program you choose must be within driving distance of your Andalusia AL home. If you do choose 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 especially the case for welder degree programs offered by community colleges. Furthermore, 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 should be in a region or state where you subsequently will wish to work.
Small Classes. Personalized training is essential for a hands-on trade such as welding. It’s possible to be lost in bigger classes and not obtain much personalized training. Ask what the typical class size is for the welding programs you are looking at. Ask if you can sit in on a couple of classes so that you can see just how much personal attention the students are getting. While there, talk with a few of the students and get their feedback. Also, talk to a couple of the teachers and ask what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they hold.
Flexible Class Schedules. Some people learn a new trade while still employed at their current job. Check to see that the class schedules for the programs you are looking at are convenient enough to meet your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Andalusia AL, make sure that the schools you are looking at provide those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, verify that the school you pick offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the policy is to make up classes if you you miss any because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Will You Be Attending Welding School Near Andalusia AL?
Perhaps you live in the Andalusia 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.
Andalusia was first settled in 1841 after flooding of the Conecuh River and the surrounding lowlands forced citizens to move to higher ground. The county seat was moved from Montezuma to Andalusia in 1844. The new town was originally called "New Site" but was known as Andalusia by the time a post office was established in 1846.
Andalusia, likely got its name from Spanish explorers or settlers since the land where the town is located was part of Spanish Florida until Pinckney's Treaty in 1795. Prior to this treaty, the Spanish Empire claimed all land up to 32.22 degrees north, which would include present day Andalusia which is at 31.31 degrees north. Andalusia shares the name of Andalusia, a large southern autonomous community of Spain.
Andalusia is located slightly northwest of the center of Covington County at 31°18′N 86°29′W / 31.300°N 86.483°W / 31.300; -86.483 (31.309, -86.479). According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 19.8 square miles (51.3 km2), of which 19.7 square miles (50.9 km2) is land and 0.15 square miles (0.4 km2), or 0.79%, is water.
Online Welding Schools
Welding is truly a hands-on kind of profession, and consequently not extremely suitable for online training. However, there are some online welding courses offered by specific community colleges and technical schools in the greater Andalusia AL area that can count toward a degree or certificate program. These courses primarily deal with such topics as reading blueprints, safety,, and metallurgy. They can help provide a novice a foundation to start their training and education. Nevertheless, the most significant 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. These skills must be learned in an on-campus environment or in an apprenticeship. Online or distance learning is more appropriate for experienced welders that would like to advance their knowledge or possibly attain a more advanced degree. So if you should find an online welding degree or certificate program, be extremely careful and make certain that the bulk of the training is done on campus or in a workshop type of setting.
Choose the Ideal Welding Vocational Program Andalusia AL
Picking the best welding school will probably be the most critical decision you will make to launch your new profession. As we have addressed in this article, there are several factors that you will need to assess and compare between the schools you are considering. It’s a necessity that any welding training program that you are reviewing includes a considerable amount of hands-on training. Classes should be smaller in size and every student should have their personal welding machine to train on. Classroom instruction should provide a real-world context, and the training program should be current and conform with industry standards. Training programs differ in duration and the kind of credential offered, so you will need to determine what length of program and credential will best serve your needs. Each program provides different possibilities for certification also. Perhaps the best way to research your final list of schools is to go to each campus and speak with the students and instructors. Invest some time to sit in on a few 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, hard work and dedication, the final outcome will be a new career as a professional welder in Andalusia AL.