How to Select a Welder Degree Program near Fairhope Alabama
Locating the right welding technical school near Fairhope AL is an important first step to starting your new career as a professional welder. But since there are numerous schools to pick from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more notably, 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 identified those that are within commuting distance, they gravitate toward the least costly one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are crucial considerations when evaluating welder 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 wise to create a list of qualifications that your selected 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 Programs
There are multiple options to get training as a welder in a technical or trade school. You can obtain a a certificate, a diploma or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are offered in Welding Technology or Welding Engineering, but are more advanced degrees than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Below are brief explanations of the most common welding programs offered in the Fairhope AL.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are generally offered by trade and technical schools and take about 1 year to finish. 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 supplemental skills for experienced welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take two years to complete and are usually offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology provides a more extensive education than the diploma or certificate while still supplying the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
A number of states and municipalities do have licensing prerequisites for welders, so don’t forget to check for your location of potential employment. If needed, the welding school you pick should prepare you for any licensing exams that you will have to pass in addition to supplying the suitable training to become a professional welder.
Welding Certification Options
There are a number of institutions that provide welder certifications, which test the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Numerous Fairhope AL employers not only expect a certificate or degree from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a respected agency such as the American Welding Society (AWS). A variety of certifications are available based upon the kind of work that the welder does. 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 specific types of welds
- Operate in compliance with contract specifications
As formerly stated, many cities, states or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those requiring licensing, many also require certification for different kinds of work. Certification is also a means to prove to employers that you are an extremely skilled and qualified welder. So similarly as with licensing, look into the requirements for your local area and verify that the welder tech school you choose readies you for certification as needed.
How to Select a Welder Technical Program
After you have decided on the credential you would like to earn, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can begin to compare schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are many welding vocational and trade schools in the Fairhope AL area. That’s why it’s essential to decide up front what qualifications your selected school must have. We have already covered two significant ones that many people look at first, which are location and tuition cost. As stated, although they are very important qualifications, they are not the only ones that need to be looked at. After all, the program you choose is going to provide the education that will be the foundation of your new career as a welder. So following are more factors you may need to evaluate before selecting a welding technical school.
Accreditation. It’s very important that the welder technical school you decide on is accredited by either a national or a regional organization. There are 2 basic 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 has, for instance Welding Technology. So make certain that the program you select is accredited, not just the school itself. Also, 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). In addition to helping ensure that you receive a quality education, the accreditation may also assist in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are often unavailable in Fairhope AL for non-accredited schools. Finally, for those states or municipalities that require licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited as well.
Job Assistance and Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of welding degree or diploma programs are provided combined with an apprenticeship program. Various other schools will assist in placing you in an apprenticeship or a job after graduation. Find out if the schools you are reviewing 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 place their students. Older schools may have a more substantial network of graduates that they can rely upon for referrals. These programs can help students find employment and develop associations within the Fairhope AL welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that start an academic program and finish it. It’s crucial that the welding school you select has a high completion rate. A lower rate could mean that the students who enrolled in the program were unhappy with the training, the teachers, or the facilities, and quit. The job placement rate is also an indication of the quality of training. A higher job placement rate will not only affirm that the program has an excellent reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of Fairhope AL contacts to assist students secure apprenticeships or employment upon graduation.
Up-to-date Equipment and Facilities. After you have narrowed down your selection of welder schools to two or three possibilities, you should think out visiting the campuses to evaluate their facilities. Verify that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are up-to-date. In particular, the training equipment should be comparable to what you will be working with in the field. If you are unsure what to look for, and are already in an apprenticeship program, ask the master welder you are working under for guidance. Otherwise, ask a local Fairhope AL welding professional if they can give you some pointers.
School Location. Although we already briefly discussed the significance of location, there are a few additional issues that we should cover. You should remember that unless you have the ability to move, the welder school you select needs to be within commuting distance of your Fairhope AL home. If you do decide to attend 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 welding diploma 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 needs to be in an area or state where you subsequently will wish to work.
Small Classes. Personalized training is important for a hands-on trade such as welding. It’s easy to be overlooked in larger classes and not get much individualized training. Ask what the typical class size is for the welding programs you are reviewing. Inquire if you can sit in on a couple of classes so that you can experience just how much individual attention the students are receiving. While there, speak with a few of the students and get their evaluations. Also, chat with a couple of the trainers and find out what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they have earned.
Convenient Class Scheduling. 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 convenient enough to satisfy your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Fairhope AL, verify that the schools you are assessing provide those choices. If you can only enroll part-time, confirm that the school you decide on offers part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the policy is to make up classes should you miss any due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Will You Be Attending Welding School Near Fairhope AL?
Perhaps you live in the Fairhope 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.
Fairhope is a city in Baldwin County, Alabama, United States, on a sloping plateau, along the cliffs and shoreline of Mobile Bay. The 2010 census lists the population of the city as 15,326. Fairhope is a principal city of the Daphne-Fairhope-Foley micropolitan area, which includes all of Baldwin County. In 2016, Fairhope was named the best small town in the South by Southern Living magazine.
Fairhope was founded in November 1894 on the site of the former Alabama City as a radical Georgist "Single-Tax" colony by the Fairhope Industrial Association, a group of 28 followers of economist Henry George who had incorporated earlier that year in Des Moines, Iowa. Their corporate constitution explained their purpose in founding a new colony:
In forming their demonstration project, they pooled their funds to purchase land at "Stapleton's pasture" on the eastern shore of Mobile Bay and then divided it into a number of long-term leaseholds. The corporation paid all governmental taxes from rents paid by the lessees, thus simulating a single-tax. The purpose of the single-tax colony was to eliminate disincentives for productive use of land and thereby retain the value of land for the community.
Online Welding Classes
Welding is very much a hands-on kind of trade, and for that reason not extremely compatible with training online. Even so, there are a small number of online welding courses offered by specific community colleges and vocational schools in the greater Fairhope AL area that can count toward a degree or certificate program. These classes primarily cover such subjects as reading blueprints, safety,, and metallurgy. They can help give a novice a foundation to begin their education and training. Nevertheless, the most important point is that you can’t learn how to weld or work with welding materials until you actually do it. Clearly that can’t be done online. These skills need to be learned in an on-campus setting or in an apprenticeship. Online or distance learning is better suited for experienced welders that want to advance their expertise or possibly earn a more advanced degree. So if you should discover an online welding degree or certificate program, be very cautious and make certain that the bulk of the training is done on campus or in a workshop type of setting.
Pick the Best Welding Vocational Program Fairhope AL
Picking the ideal welder school will undoubtedly be the most critical decision you will make to begin your new career. As we have covered in this article, there are a number of things that you will need to evaluate and compare among the programs you are looking at. It’s a must that any welder school that you are evaluating includes a lot of hands-on training. Classes need to be smaller in size and each student should have their own welding machine to train with. Classroom instruction should provide a real-world context, and the course of study should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Programs differ in length and the type of credential offered, so you will have to determine what length of program and credential will best fulfill your needs. Each training program offers different options for certification also. Probably the best approach to research your final list of schools is to go to each campus and talk with the teachers and students. Take the time to attend a few classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the program you decide on is the right one for you. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, the end outcome will be a new trade as a professional welder in Fairhope AL.