How to Enroll In a Welding Technical School near Athens Alabama
Enrolling in the ideal welder trade school near Athens AL is an important first step to beginning your new career as a professional welder. But since there are so many schools to pick from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more notably, once you have narrowed down your alternatives, how do you select the right one? Many prospective students start by reviewing the schools that are closest to their homes. When they have located those that are within driving distance, they gravitate toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and tuition cost are important considerations when evaluating 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 trade school to become a welder, it’s wise to create 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 Degree and Certificate Training Classes
There are several options to receive training as a welder in a trade or vocational school. You can obtain a a certificate, a diploma 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 offered combined with an apprenticeship program. Below are brief explanations of the most typical welding programs available in the Athens AL.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are usually offered by trade and technical schools and take about a year to finish. They are more hands-on training in scope, designed largely to develop welding skills. They can provide a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or additional 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 furnishes a more well-rounded education than the diploma or certificate while still supplying the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
Some municipalities and states do have licensing requirements for welders, so be sure to check for your location of future employment. As required, the welder school you choose 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.
Welding Certification Choices
There are a number of organizations that provide welding certifications, which evaluate the knowledge and skill level of those applying. Numerous Athens AL employers not only demand a degree or certificate from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a respected organization such as the American Welding Society (AWS). A variety of certifications are offered dependent on the kind of work that the welder does. Some of the things that certification can attest to are the welder’s ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with certain metal thicknesses
- Work with specific kinds of welds
- Operate based on contract specifications
As previously stated, many states, cities or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those requiring licensing, some additionally require certification for various kinds of work. Certification is also a way to prove to employers that you are a highly skilled and knowledgeable welder. So similarly as with licensing, check the requirements for your local area and make sure that the welding tech school you select readies you for certification if needed.
How to Decide on a Welder Vocational Program
As soon as you have chosen the credential you want to attain, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can begin to compare schools. As you can imagine, there are a large number of welding trade and vocational schools in the Athens AL area. That’s why it’s necessary to decide up front what qualifications your selected school must have. We have previously covered a couple of significant ones that many people consider first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As mentioned, although they are very important qualifiers, they are not the only ones that need to be considered. After all, the program you choose is going to furnish the instruction that will be the foundation of your new vocation as a welder. So below are some additional factors you might want to evaluate before picking a welding trade school.
Accreditation. It’s very important that the welder trade school you choose is accredited by either a national or a regional organization. There are 2 standard types of accreditation. The school may attain Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a single program the school offers, such as Welding Technology. So make sure 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 organization, for example 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 assist in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently not available in Athens 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 as well.
Job Assistance and Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous welding degree or certificate programs are offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Some other schools will help place you in an apprenticeship or a job after graduation. Ask if the schools you are considering help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. These schools should have partnerships with local unions and other metal working businesses to which they can refer their students. More established schools may have a larger network of graduates that they can utilize for placements. These programs can assist students in finding employment and develop associations within the Athens AL welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that start an academic program and complete it. It’s crucial that the welding program you choose has a high completion rate. A low rate could mean 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 an indication of the caliber of training. A high job placement rate will not only confirm that the program has a good reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of Athens AL contacts to assist students secure employment or apprenticeships upon graduation.
Modern Facilities and Equipment. After you have narrowed down your choice of welding programs to two or three options, you should consider visiting the campuses to evaluate their facilities. Confirm that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be trained on are modern. In particular, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be working with in the field. If you are not sure 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 Athens AL welding professional if they can give you some pointers.
School Location. Although we already briefly discussed the importance of location, there are a few additional points that we should address. You should remember that unless you are able to relocate, the welder program you pick needs to be within commuting distance of your Athens AL home. If you do decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, apart from moving costs there may be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly the case for welding diploma programs offered by community colleges. Furthermore, if the school provides an apprenticeship or job placement program, often their placements are within the school’s regional community. So the location of the school needs to be in a region or state where you subsequently will want to work.
Smaller Classes. Personalized training is essential for a manual trade such as welding. It’s possible to get overlooked in bigger classes and not obtain much individualized training. Find out what the typical class size is for the welding schools you are considering. Ask if you can sit in on some classes so that you can experience just how much personal attention the students are receiving. While there, talk with some of the students and get their evaluations. Also, talk to some of the instructors and ask what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they have earned.
Convenient Class Schedules. Many people learn a new trade while still working at their present job. Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are convenient enough to meet your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Athens AL, confirm that the schools you are looking at provide those alternatives. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you decide on offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the protocol is to make up classes if you you miss any due to work, sickness or family responsibilities.
Will You Be Attending Welding School Near Athens AL?
Perhaps you live in the Athens 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.
Athens is a city in Limestone County, in the State of Alabama. As of the 2010 census, the population of the city is 21,897. The city is the county seat of Limestone County and is included in the Huntsville-Decatur Combined Statistical Area.
Founded in 1818 by John Coffee, Robert Beaty, John D. Carroll, and John Read, Athens is one of the oldest incorporated cities in the State of Alabama, having been incorporated one year prior to the state's admittance to the Union in 1819. Limestone County was also created by an act of the Alabama Territorial Legislature in 1818. The town was first called Athenson, but was incorporated as Athens after the ancient city in Greece. The town's first mayor was Samuel Tanner, and the Tanner area, south of Athens, was named on his behalf.
The Athens area was the home of William Wyatt Bibb, the first Governor of Alabama, and its second Governor, his brother Thomas Bibb, who succeeded him in office when he died in a fall from his horse.
Online Welder Training
Welding is truly a manual kind of trade, and consequently not extremely compatible with training online. Even so, there are a few online welding classes offered by specific community colleges and technical schools in the greater Athens AL area that can count toward a degree or certificate program. These classes mainly deal with such topics as safety, reading blueprints, and metallurgy. They can help give a beginner a basis to begin their training and education. However, the most critical point is that you can’t learn how to weld or handle welding materials unless 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 would like to advance their expertise or possibly attain a more advanced degree. So if you should discover an online welding certificate or degree program, be very careful and verify that the larger part of the training is done on campus or in a workshop type of setting.
Pick the Ideal Welding Tech School Athens AL
Selecting the best welder 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 several things that you will need to evaluate and compare among the schools you are looking at. It’s a prerequisite that any welder training program that you are assessing includes a considerable amount of hands-on instruction. Classes should be smaller in size and every student should have their personal welding machine to train on. Classroom education should offer a real-world context, and the course of study should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Training programs vary in length and the kind of credential provided, so you will have to decide what length of program and certificate or degree will best serve your needs. Every training program provides different options for certification as well. Perhaps the best approach to research your final list of schools is to go to each campus and talk with the students and faculty. Take the time to sit in on a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the program you choose is the ideal one for you. With the proper training, hard work and dedication, the end outcome will be a new career as a professional welder in Athens AL.