How to Select a Welder Certification Class near Helena Alabama
Locating the ideal welder trade school near Helena AL is an important first step to starting your new career as a professional welder. But since there are numerous schools to choose from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more importantly, once you have narrowed down your options, how do you select the best one? A number of prospective students begin by reviewing the schools that are nearest to their residences. When they have found those that are within commuting distance, they are drawn toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and tuition cost are crucial considerations when reviewing welding technical schools, but they are not the only ones. Other factors include such things as reputation, accreditation and job placement rates. So before initiating your search for a trade school to become a welder, it’s sensible 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 Degree and Certificate Programs
There are a number of options available to obtain 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 offered in Welding Technology or Welding Engineering, but are more advanced courses than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available along with an apprenticeship program. Below are brief explanations of the most typical welding programs offered in the Helena AL.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are normally made available by trade and technical schools and require about 1 year to finish. They are more hands-on training in nature, fashioned largely to develop welding skills. They can furnish a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or supplemental skills for working welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take two years to finish and are usually offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology furnishes a more extensive education than the diploma or certificate while still supplying the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
Some states and municipalities do have licensing prerequisites for welders, so make sure to check for your location of potential employment. If required, the welder school you pick should ready you for any licensing examinations that you will need to pass in addition to providing the appropriate training to become a qualified welder.
Welder Certification Choices
There are various institutions that provide welder certifications, which evaluate the skill level and knowledge of those applying. A large number of Helena AL employers not only expect a degree or certificate from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a renowned organization such as the American Welding Society (AWS). A wide range of certifications are offered dependent on the type of work that the welder does. A few of the skills that certification can attest to are the welder’s ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specific metal thicknesses
- Work with various kinds of welds
- Work based on contract specifications
As previously stated, some states, cities or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those mandating licensing, a number additionally require certification for various kinds of work. Certification is also a way to demonstrate to employers that you are an exceptionally skilled and qualified welder. So just as with licensing, check the requirements for your local area and make certain that the welding vocational school you decide on prepares you for certification if needed.
How to Choose a Welder Technical Program
When you have chosen the credential you want to obtain, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can begin to compare schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are many welding vocational and trade schools in the Helena AL area. That’s why it’s essential to decide up front what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have already covered 2 significant ones that many people consider first, which are location and tuition cost. As mentioned, although they are essential qualifications, they are not the only ones that should be looked at. After all, the school you choose is going to furnish the education that will be the foundation of your new vocation as a welder. So following are some additional factors you might want to consider before choosing a welder technical school.
Accreditation. It’s extremely important that the welding trade school you choose is accredited by either a national or a regional organization. There are two standard types of accreditation. The school may receive Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a specific program the school has, for instance 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 acknowledged accrediting agency, like the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). In addition to helping ensure that you get a quality education, the accreditation can also help in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are often unavailable in Helena 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 also.
Apprenticeship and Job Assistance Programs. Many welding degree or certificate programs are offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Some other schools will assist in placing you in an apprenticeship or a job after graduation. Find out if the schools you are reviewing assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. These schools must have relationships with local unions and various metal working businesses to which they can place their students. More established 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 relationships within the Helena AL welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that start an instructional program and finish it. It’s important that the welding school you choose has a higher completion rate. A lower rate might indicate that the students who were in the program were dissatisfied with the instruction, the teachers, or the facilities, and dropped out. The job placement rate is also an indication of the quality of training. A high job placement rate will not only verify that the school has an excellent reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of Helena AL employer relationships to assist students obtain apprenticeships or employment after graduation.
Up-to-date Equipment and Facilities. After you have narrowed down your choice of welder programs to two or three possibilities, you should think out visiting 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 similar to what you will be working with 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 Helena AL welding professional if they can give you some suggestions.
School Location. Although we previously briefly covered the significance of location, there are a few additional issues that we should deal with. You should remember that unless you have the ability to relocate, the welder program you choose needs to be within commuting distance of your Helena AL home. If you do choose to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there could be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly the case for welder degree programs offered by community colleges. Additionally, 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 should be in an area or state where you ultimately will desire to work.
Smaller Classes. Personalized training is important for a manual trade such as welding. It’s possible to be lost in bigger classes and not get much personalized instruction. Ask what the usual class size is for the welding programs you are looking at. Ask if you can attend a few classes so that you can experience just how much personal attention the students are receiving. While there, speak with several of the students and get their opinions. Similarly, speak with a couple of the instructors and ask what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they have earned.
Flexible Class Scheduling. Some people learn a new trade while still working at their current job. Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are considering are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Helena AL, verify that the schools you are reviewing offer those alternatives. If you can only enroll part-time, make sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, check to see what the protocol is to make up classes should you miss any due to illness, work or family responsibilities.
Will You Be Attending Welding School Near Helena AL?
Perhaps you live in the Helena 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.
Helena (pronunciation hel-LE-nah) is a city in Jefferson and Shelby Counties in the state of Alabama. Helena is considered a suburb of Birmingham and part of the Birmingham-Hoover Metropolitan Area. As of the 2010 census, the population was 16,793. Helena is highly regarded as a place to live and raise children; Business Week named Helena the 13th "Best Place to Raise Your Kids" in 2007. It has the eighth-lowest crime rate per population in the U.S., and the city was ranked in Money magazine's 2007 list of "Best Places to Live: Top 100" in the U.S., placing at number 91. The Alabama League of Municipalities awarded Helena the 2008 Municipal Achievement Award (population 10,001 to 20,000).
Helena initially incorporated in 1877, but reincorporated in 1917 after errors were discovered in the initial incorporation papers. It did not first appear on the U.S. Census until 1920, giving credence to the later date of incorporation.
The initial settlers to Helena, initially named Cove, were veterans of the final campaigns of the War of 1812. Members of Andrew Jackson's army who cut through the brush were attracted to the quiet, peaceful valleys and streams after the Battle of Horseshoe Bend. These first settlers were reported to arrive in 1849 and were predated by the Creek Indian tribes who these settlers had battled. By 1856, the Cove post office opened. Shortly thereafter, the settlers changed the name of the town to Hillsboro.
Online Welding Courses
Welding is truly a manual type of profession, and for that reason not extremely compatible with training online. Having said that, there are some online welding programs offered by certain community colleges and trade schools in the greater Helena AL area that may count toward a degree or certificate program. These courses mainly cover such subjects as reading blueprints, safety,, and metallurgy. They can help give a novice a basis to begin their training and education. However, the most significant point is that you can’t learn how to weld or handle welding materials unless you actually do it. Obviously that can’t be accomplished online. These skills have to be learned in an on-campus setting or in an apprenticeship. Online or distance learning is more appropriate for seasoned welders that would like to advance their knowledge or perhaps obtain a more advanced degree. So if you should find an online welding certificate or degree program, be very cautious and make sure that the greater part of the training is done on campus or in a workshop type of environment.
Choose the Ideal Welding Vocational School Helena AL
Choosing the right welding training program will undoubtedly be the most critical decision you will make to begin your new career. As we have addressed in this article, there are a number of factors that you will need to evaluate and compare among the programs you are looking at. It’s a prerequisite that any welder training program that you are evaluating includes a good deal of hands-on training. Classes need to be smaller in size and every student should have their personal welding machine to train with. Classroom teaching needs to offer a real-world perspective, and the curriculum should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Programs differ in duration and the type of credential offered, so you will need to decide what length of program and credential will best serve your needs. Each training program provides different options for certification as well. Probably The ideal approach to research your short list of schools is to go to each campus and speak with the students and instructors. Take the 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 right one for you. With the right training, effort and commitment, the final outcome will be a new trade as a professional welder in Helena AL.