How to Choose a Welder Training Program near Gadsden Alabama
Enrolling in the ideal welding trade school near Gadsden 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 know which ones to consider? And more notably, once you have fine tuned your choices, how do you pick the best one? Many prospective students start by reviewing the schools that are nearest to their residences. Once they have identified those that are within driving distance, they gravitate toward the least expensive one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are necessary considerations when examining welder vocational schools, but they are not the only ones. Other factors include such things as accreditation, reputation and job placement rates. So before beginning your search for a trade school to become a welder, it’s sensible to establish a list of qualifications that your chosen school must have. But before we examine our due diligence checklist, let’s cover a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welding Degree and Certificate Training Classes
There are multiple options available to obtain 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 made available combined with an apprenticeship program. Below are brief descriptions of the most typical welding programs available in the Gadsden AL.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are generally made available by trade and technical schools and take about 1 year to complete. They are more hands-on training in nature, created mainly to develop welding skills. They can furnish 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 certificate or diploma while still providing the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
Some states and municipalities do have licensing prerequisites for welders, so be sure to check for your location of potential employment. If required, the welder school you select should prepare you for any licensing exams that you will have to take in addition to furnishing the appropriate training to become a professional welder.
Welder Certification Alternatives
There are a number of institutions that provide welder certifications, which evaluate the knowledge and skill level of those applying. Numerous Gadsden AL employers not only expect a degree or certificate from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a renowned agency like the American Welding Society (AWS). A variety of certifications are available based on the kind of work that the welder does. Some of the things that certification can acknowledge are the welder’s ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specific metal thicknesses
- Work with various kinds of welds
- Operate in compliance with contract specifications
As earlier mentioned, some cities, states or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those calling for licensing, some additionally require certification for different kinds 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, look into the requirements for your local area and verify that the welder technical school you decide on preps you for certification if needed.
How to Decide on a Welder Technical School
When you have decided on the credential you would like to earn, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can start to compare schools. As you probably know, there are a large number of welding vocational and trade schools in the Gadsden AL area. That’s why it’s necessary to establish up front what qualifications your selected school must have. We have already covered 2 significant ones that many people look at first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As mentioned, although they are essential qualifiers, they are not the only ones that must be considered. After all, the program you pick is going to provide the instruction that will be the foundation of your new career as a welder. So below are more factors you may want to consider before selecting a welder tech school.
Accreditation. It’s very important that the welding technical school you select is accredited by either a national or a regional agency. There are two basic 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, for instance Welding Technology. So verify that the program you choose is accredited, not just the school alone. Also, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, for example the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). In addition to helping make sure that you obtain a superior education, the accreditation might also assist in getting financial assistance or student loans, which are often not offered in Gadsden AL for schools that are not accredited. Also, for those states or local governments that mandate licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited as well.
Apprenticeship and Job Placement Programs. Many welding degree or diploma programs are provided in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Various other schools will help place you in a job or an apprenticeship after graduation. Ask if the schools you are considering assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. The schools must have relationships with local unions and other metal working businesses to which they can refer their students. Older schools may have a more substantial network of graduates that they can utilize for placements. These programs can help students find employment and develop associations within the Gadsden AL welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that begin an academic program and finish it. It’s crucial that the welder school you pick has a high completion rate. A lower rate could signify that the students who were 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 affirm that the program has a good reputation within the trade, but additionally that it has the network of Gadsden AL contacts to help students secure employment or apprenticeships after graduation.
Up-to-date Facilities and Equipment. Once you have decreased your selection of welder schools to two or three options, you should think out going to the campuses to inspect their facilities. Verify that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are modern. In particular, the training equipment should be comparable to what you will be using on the job. 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 Gadsden AL welding contractor if they can give you some pointers.
School Location. Although we already 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 can relocate, the welding school you select needs to be within commuting distance of your Gadsden AL home. If you do choose to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides relocation expenses there might be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly the case for welder degree programs offered by community colleges. Furthermore, if the school offers an apprenticeship or job placement program, often their placements are within the school’s local community. So the location of the school needs to be in an area or state where you ultimately will wish to work.
Small Classes. Personalized instruction is important for a manual trade such as welding. It’s easy to be overlooked in bigger classes and not get much one-on-one instruction. Find out what the typical class size is for the welding programs you are looking at. Inquire if you can sit in on a few classes so that you can experience how much individual attention the students are getting. While there, speak with a few of the students and get their opinions. Similarly, speak with a couple of the trainers and find out what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they hold.
Convenient Class Scheduling. Some people learn a new trade while still employed at their current job. Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are looking at are convenient enough to meet your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Gadsden AL, verify that the schools you are considering offer those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you decide on offers part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the protocol is to make up classes if you you miss any due to illness, work or family responsibilities.
Will You Be Attending Welding School Near Gadsden AL?
Perhaps you live in the Gadsden 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.
Gadsden is a city in and the county seat of Etowah County in the U.S. state of Alabama. It is located on the Coosa River about 56 miles (90 km) northeast of Birmingham and 90 miles (140 km) southwest of Chattanooga, Tennessee. It is the primary city of the Gadsden Metropolitan Statistical Area, which has a population of 103,931. As of the 2010 census, the population of the city was 36,856, with an estimated population of 35,837 in 2016. Gadsden and Rome, Georgia, are the largest cities in the triangular area now defined by the interstate highways between Atlanta, Birmingham, and Chattanooga.
In the 19th century, Gadsden was at one time Alabama's second-most important center of commerce and industry, trailing only the seaport of Mobile. The two cities were important shipping centers: Gadsden for riverboats and Mobile for international trade.
From the late 19th century through the 1980s, Gadsden was a center of heavy industry, including the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company and Republic Steel. More than a decade after the sharp decline in industry, in 1991 Gadsden was awarded the honor of All-America City by the National Civic League. This honored the way Gadsden's citizens, government, businesses, and voluntary organizations have worked together to address critical local issues.
Online Welding Classes
Welding is very much a hands-on type of profession, and consequently not very compatible with online training. However, there are a small number of online welding courses offered by various community colleges and vocational schools in the greater Gadsden AL area that can be credited toward a certificate or degree program. These classes primarily deal with such topics as reading blueprints, safety,, and metallurgy. They can help give a novice a basis to start their training and education. Nevertheless, the most critical point is that you can’t learn how to weld or use 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 better suited for experienced welders that want to advance their knowledge or perhaps obtain a more advanced degree. So if you should discover 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.
Find the Right Welding Technical School Gadsden AL
Selecting the best welder training program will probably be the most important decision you will make to start your new career. As we have discussed in this article, there are several things that you will need to evaluate and compare between the programs you are reviewing. It’s a necessity that any welding training program that you are assessing includes a lot of hands-on training. Classes need to be small in size and each student should have their own welding machine to train with. Classroom instruction needs to offer a real-world frame of reference, and the training program should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Programs differ in duration and the type of credential offered, so you will have to ascertain what length of program and degree or certificate will best fulfill your needs. Every training program offers unique options for certification also. Perhaps the best way to research your final list of schools is to check out each campus and speak with the faculty and students. Invest some time to monitor a few classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the school you pick is the best one for you. With the proper training, effort and dedication, the final result will be a new trade as a professional welder in Gadsden AL.