How to Find the Right Welder Certification Program near Decatur Alabama
Selecting the right welding trade school near Decatur AL is an essential first step to launching your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are a lot of schools to pick from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more importantly, once you have fine tuned your options, how do you pick the right one? A number of people start by checking out the schools that are closest to their homes. Once they have located those that are within driving distance, they are drawn toward the least expensive one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are crucial considerations when evaluating welding vocational schools, but they are not the only ones. Other considerations include such things as accreditation, reputation and job placement rates. So before starting your search for a vocational school to become a welder, it’s prudent to create a list of qualifications that your selected 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 a number of alternatives available to receive training as a welder in a trade or vocational school. You can receive 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 made available in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Following are brief summaries of the most typical welding programs available in the Decatur AL.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are normally made available by technical and trade schools and take about 1 year to complete. They are more hands-on training in scope, created primarily to develop welding skills. They can provide a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or specialized skills for working welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take 2 years to complete and are usually offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology provides a more well-rounded education than the diploma or certificate while still supplying the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
Many states and municipalities do have licensing prerequisites for welders, therefore be sure to find out for your location of future employment. As required, the welder school you pick should ready you for any licensing examinations that you will have to pass in addition to providing the appropriate training to become a qualified welder.
Welding Certification Choices
There are several organizations that offer welding certifications, which assess the knowledge and skill level of those applying. Many Decatur AL employers not only require a degree or certificate from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a renowned organization such as the American Welding Society (AWS). A variety of certifications are offered based upon the type of work that the welder does. A few of the skills that certification can attest to are the welder’s ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with certain metal thicknesses
- Work with certain kinds of welds
- Operate based on contract specifications
As previously stated, some cities, states or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those requiring licensing, some also require certification for different kinds of work. Certification is also a way to prove to employers that you are a highly skilled and knowledgeable welder. So just as with licensing, check the requirements for your local area and confirm that the welding trade school you select preps you for certification if needed.
How to Select a Welding Trade Program
As soon as you have chosen the credential you would like to attain, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can start to compare schools. As you can imagine, there are a large number of welder trade and technical schools in the Decatur AL area. That’s why it’s essential to determine in advance what qualifications your selected school must have. We have already covered a couple of important ones that most people look at 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 program you decide on is going to provide the instruction that will be the foundation of your new profession as a welder. So following are some additional factors you might want to consider before selecting a welder technical school.
Accreditation. It’s extremely important that the welding technical school you decide on is accredited by either a regional or a national organization. There are 2 standard kinds of accreditation. The school may earn Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a single program the school offers, for instance Welding Technology. So make certain that the program you choose is accredited, not just the school alone. Also, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, like the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping make sure that you receive an excellent education, the accreditation can also assist in securing financial aid or student loans, which are frequently unavailable in Decatur AL for schools that are not accredited. Also, for those states or municipalities that require licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited also.
Job Assistance and Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of welder 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. Find out if the schools you are considering assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. The schools must have relationships with local unions and various 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 help students find employment and develop relationships within the Decatur AL welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that begin an educational program and complete it. It’s essential that the welding school you pick has a higher completion rate. A reduced rate could indicate that the students who joined the program were unhappy with the instruction, the instructors, or the facilities, and quit. The job placement rate is also a good indicator of the quality of training. A higher job placement rate will not only verify that the school has an excellent reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of Decatur AL employer relationships to assist students obtain apprenticeships or employment upon graduation.
Modern Facilities and Equipment. After you have limited your selection of welding schools to two or three possibilities, you should think out going to the campuses to inspect their facilities. Make sure that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are up-to-date. Specifically, the training equipment should be comparable to what you will be using on the job. If you are uncertain what to look for, and are already in an apprenticeship program, ask the master welder you are working under for guidance. If not, ask a local Decatur AL welding contractor if they can give you some tips.
School Location. Even though we previously briefly covered the relevance of location, there are a few additional points that we should deal with. You should remember that unless you are able to move, the welder program you select must be within driving distance of your Decatur AL home. If you do choose to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there could be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly true for welder diploma programs offered by community colleges. Also, if the school provides a job placement or apprenticeship 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. Individualized training is important for a manual trade such as welding. It’s easy to be lost in bigger classes and not obtain much one-on-one instruction. Find out what the typical class size is for the welding programs you are reviewing. Ask if you can sit in on a few classes so that you can experience how much personal attention the students are receiving. While there, talk with several of the students and get their feedback. Similarly, talk to a few of the teachers and ask what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they hold.
Flexible Class Scheduling. Lots of folks learn a new profession while still employed at their present job. Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are convenient enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Decatur AL, confirm that the schools you are considering offer those options. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you choose offers part-time enrollment. Also, check to see what the protocol is to make up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family responsibilities.
Will You Be Attending Welding School Near Decatur AL?
Perhaps you live in the Decatur 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.
Decatur is a city in Morgan and Limestone counties in the State of Alabama. The city, nicknamed "The River City", is located in Northern Alabama on the banks of Wheeler Lake, along the Tennessee River. It is the largest city and county seat of Morgan County. The population in 2010 was 55,683.
Decatur is also the core city of the two-county large Decatur, Alabama metropolitan area which had an estimated population of 153,374 in 2013. Combined with the Huntsville Metropolitan Area, the two create the Huntsville-Decatur Combined Statistical Area, of which Decatur is the second-largest city.
Like many southern cities in the early 19th century, Decatur's early success was based upon its location along a river. Railroad routes and boating traffic pushed the city to the front of North Alabama's economic atmosphere. The city rapidly grew into a large economic center within the Tennessee Valley and was a hub for travelers and cargo between Nashville and Mobile, as well as Chattanooga and New Orleans. Throughout the 20th century, the city experienced steady growth, but was eclipsed as the regional economic center by the fast-growing Huntsville during the space race. The city now finds its economy heavily based on manufacturing, mining, cargo transit, chemical, and high-tech companies such as Vulcan Materials, Daikin, Toray, United Launch Alliance.
Online Welding Classes
Welding is very much a manual type of vocation, and therefore not extremely compatible with training online. Having said that, there are a few online welding courses offered by certain community colleges and vocational schools in the greater Decatur AL area that can be credited toward a degree or certificate program. These classes mainly cover such topics as reading blueprints, safety,, and metallurgy. They can help give a beginner a foundation 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. Naturally that can’t be performed online. These skills have to be learned in an on-campus environment or in an apprenticeship. Online or distance learning is better suited for experienced welders that want to advance their knowledge or possibly obtain a more advanced degree. So if you should come across an online welding certificate or degree program, be very cautious and confirm that the larger part of the training is done on campus or in a workshop type of setting.
Pick the Right Welding Technical School Decatur AL
Picking the right welder school will undoubtedly be the most important decision you will make to start your new career. As we have covered in this article, there are many factors that you will need to evaluate and compare among the schools you are considering. It’s a must that any welder training program that you are considering includes a considerable amount of hands-on training. Classes need to be smaller in size and every student must have their personal welding machine to train with. Classroom instruction should offer a real-world frame of reference, and the training program should be current and conform with industry standards. Courses vary in duration and the type of credential provided, so you will need to ascertain what length of program and credential will best serve your needs. Each training program provides different possibilities for certification also. Perhaps The ideal means to research your final list of schools is to visit each campus and talk with the students and faculty. Invest some time to attend a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the school you select is the ideal one for you. With the proper training, effort and commitment, the end outcome will be a new career as a professional welder in Decatur AL.