How to Find the Right Welder Certification Program near Columbiana Alabama
Locating the ideal welding trade school near Columbiana AL is an essential first step to beginning your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are numerous schools to select from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more significantly, once you have narrowed down your options, how do you pick the best one? Many prospective students begin by looking at 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 necessary concerns when reviewing welder technical schools, but they are not the only ones. Other considerations 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 wise to develop a list of qualifications that your selected school must have. But before we examine our due diligence checklist, let’s talk a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welding Certificate and Degree Training Programs
There are multiple alternatives available to get training as a welder in a technical or trade school. You can earn a diploma, a certificate 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. Below are brief summaries of the most typical welding programs offered in the Columbiana AL.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are usually made available by trade and technical schools and take about a year to complete. They are more hands-on training in nature, created largely to teach welding skills. They can provide a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or specialized skills for experienced welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take 2 years to finish and are usually offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology furnishes a more extensive education than the certificate or diploma while still supplying the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
A number of states and municipalities do have licensing prerequisites for welders, therefore make sure to check for your location of future employment. If needed, the welder school you select should ready you for any licensing exams that you will have to take in addition to furnishing the appropriate training to become a professional welder.
Welding Certification Options
There are various institutions that offer welder certifications, which test the knowledge and skill level of those applying. Many Columbiana AL employers not only require a certificate or degree from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a respected agency like the American Welding Society (AWS). A variety of certifications are available based on the kind of work that the welder performs. A few of the things that certification can acknowledge are the welder’s ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specified metal thicknesses
- Work with certain types of welds
- Work based on contract specifications
As already stated, various cities, states or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those mandating licensing, some additionally 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 similarly as with licensing, check the requirements for your local area and verify that the welding vocational school you decide on readies you for certification as needed.
How to Select a Welder Trade School
Once you have decided on the credential you would like to obtain, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can begin to assess schools. As you probably know, there are many welding vocational and trade schools in the Columbiana AL area. That’s why it’s necessary to establish in advance what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have already covered a couple of significant ones that most people consider first, which are location and tuition cost. As stated, although they are very important qualifiers, they are not the only ones that need to be looked at. After all, the school you pick is going to provide the education that will be the foundation of your new profession as a welder. So following are more factors you might need to evaluate before choosing a welder tech school.
Accreditation. It’s essential 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 receive Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a single program the school has, such as Welding Technology. So make certain that the program you pick is accredited, not just the school itself. 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). Besides helping make sure that you get a quality education, the accreditation can also help in securing financial aid or student loans, which are often not available in Columbiana AL for non-accredited schools. 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 diploma or degree programs are provided combined with an apprenticeship program. Other schools will assist in placing you in an apprenticeship or a job upon graduation. Ask if the schools you are looking at assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. The schools should have associations with local unions and various metal working businesses to which they can place their students. More established schools may have a larger network of graduates that they can rely upon for referrals. These programs can help students find employment and establish relationships within the Columbiana AL welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that begin an academic program and finish it. It’s essential that the welder program you choose has a high completion rate. A low rate might indicate that the students who were in the program were unhappy with the training, the teachers, or the facilities, and dropped out. The job placement rate is also a good indicator of the quality of training. A higher job placement rate will not only confirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of Columbiana AL contacts to assist students secure employment or apprenticeships upon graduation.
Up-to-date Equipment and Facilities. Once you have narrowed down your choice of welder programs to two or three possibilities, you should think out visiting the campuses to evaluate their facilities. Make sure that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be trained 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. Otherwise, ask a local Columbiana AL welding contractor if they can give you a few suggestions.
School Location. Although we previously briefly talked about the relevance of location, there are a couple of additional points that we need to address. You should keep in mind that unless you have the ability to move, the welding school you choose must be within driving distance of your Columbiana AL home. If you do decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there may be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly true for welding certificate programs offered by community colleges. Furthermore, if the school offers an apprenticeship or job placement program, most likely their placements are within the school’s local community. So the location of the school needs to be in a region or state where you subsequently will want to work.
Smaller Classes. One-on-one instruction is important for a hands-on trade such as welding. It’s possible to get lost in bigger classes and not obtain much individualized training. Ask what the average class size is for the welder schools you are looking at. Inquire if you can attend a few classes so that you can experience just how much individual attention the students are receiving. While there, speak with some of the students and get their evaluations. Also, talk with some of the trainers and find out what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they hold.
Convenient Class Schedules. Some people learn a new profession while still working at their present job. Check to see that the class schedules for the schools you are considering are convenient enough to meet your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Columbiana AL, verify that the schools you are reviewing offer those alternatives. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, confirm that the school you pick offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the protocol is to make up classes if you you miss any because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Will You Be Attending Welding School Near Columbiana AL?
Perhaps you live in the Columbiana 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.
Columbiana, originally called Columbia, was selected as the county seat of Shelby County in 1826 over rivals Calera and Montevallo. After the selection as the county seat, Columbiana celebrated by drilling holes in a large pine tree and packing it with gunpowder. The tree was blown up and the sound could be heard for miles. Later in 1826, the courthouse was moved to an old school building in Columbiana.
An act of the Alabama Legislature officially changed the name of Shelby County's county seat to Columbiana on January 13, 1832. Columbiana was incorporated on December 5, 1837 with corporate limits one-quarter of a mile in each direction from the public square.
In 1854, the decision was made to build a larger courthouse at the south end of “Silk Stocking Road”, now Main Street. From 1854 to 1908 several additions and changes were made to the courthouse. During the American Civil War, Columbiana was connected to the nearby town of Shelby by the Shelby Iron Company Railroad, which connected the Shelby Iron Works to the Alabama and Tennessee River Railroad. The Iron Works supplied iron to the C.B. Churchill and Company foundry, which moved to Columbiana in 1862 after the fall of Corinth, Mississippi. The Churchill foundry made eight and ten pound shot, eight and ten pound shells, and shells for Blakely rifles. The C.B. Churchill and Company foundry, Shelby Iron Works and the railroad were destroyed by Union forces on March 31, 1865, as part of Wilson's Raid.
Online Welding Degree and Certificate Programs
Welding is truly a manual kind of vocation, and therefore not very compatible with online training. Having said that, there are a few online welding courses offered by certain community colleges and technical schools in the greater Columbiana AL area that can be credited toward a degree or certificate program. These classes mainly cover such topics as safety, reading blueprints, and metallurgy. They can help provide a beginner a basis to start their training and education. However, 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 accomplished 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 desire to advance their knowledge or perhaps 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 larger part of the training is done on campus or in a workshop type of environment.
Find the Best Welding Vocational School Columbiana AL
Picking the right welder training program will probably be the most important decision you will make to begin your new trade. As we have covered in this article, there are a number of things that you will need to evaluate and compare between the programs you are considering. It’s a necessity that any welding training that you are examining includes a lot of hands-on training. Classes should be smaller in size and every student must have their personal welding machine to train with. Classroom instruction needs to provide a real-world perspective, and the course of study should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Training programs differ in duration and the type of credential offered, so you will have to ascertain what length of program and certificate or degree will best serve your needs. Each program offers unique possibilities for certification also. Probably the best means to research your final list of schools is to visit each campus and talk with the faculty and students. Invest some time to sit in on some classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the program you choose is the ideal one for you. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, the final outcome will be a new career as a professional welder in Columbiana AL.