How to Choose a Welding Certification Course near Leeds Alabama
Choosing the ideal welder vocational school near Leeds AL is an important first step to starting your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are a lot of schools to select from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more importantly, once you have fine tuned your alternatives, how do you select the right one? A number of people begin by reviewing the schools that are closest to their residences. Once they have identified those that are within commuting distance, they gravitate toward the least costly one. Yes, location and tuition cost are important concerns when examining welder vocational schools, but they are not the only ones. Other concerns include such things as reputation, accreditation and job placement rates. So before starting your search for a trade school to become a welder, it’s prudent to create a list of qualifications that your chosen school must have. But before we delve into our due diligence checklist, let’s talk a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welder Certificate and Degree Training
There are a number of 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 available in Welding Engineering or Welding Technology, but are more advanced programs than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also offered along with an apprenticeship program. Following are brief explanations of the most prevalent welding programs offered in the Leeds AL.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are usually offered by trade and technical schools and require about one year to complete. They are more hands-on training in scope, fashioned largely to develop welding skills. They can furnish a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or additional skills for experienced welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take 2 years to complete 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 municipalities and states do have licensing requirements for welders, so be sure to check for your location of future employment. If required, the welder school you pick should prep you for any licensing exams that you will have to pass in addition to furnishing the appropriate training to become a qualified welder.
Welder Certification Choices
There are various institutions that provide welder certifications, which test the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Many Leeds AL employers not only demand a certificate or degree from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a renowned agency like the American Welding Society (AWS). A variety of certifications are offered based upon the kind of work that the welder does. Just some of the things that certification can attest to are the welder’s ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specified metal thicknesses
- Work with specific kinds of welds
- Perform according to contract specifications
As already mentioned, various cities, states or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those mandating licensing, a number additionally require certification for different kinds of work. Certification is also a way to demonstrate to employers that you are a highly skilled and qualified welder. So just as with licensing, look into the requirements for your local area and verify that the welder tech school you decide on prepares you for certification if needed.
How to Select a Welder Technical Program
When you have decided on the credential you want to attain, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can begin to compare schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are numerous welder vocational and trade schools in the Leeds AL area. That’s why it’s necessary to establish in advance what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have previously covered 2 important ones that many people look at 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 program you choose is going to furnish the training that will be the foundation of your new vocation as a welder. So below are more factors you might want to consider before choosing a welding trade school.
Accreditation. It’s very important that the welding vocational school you choose is accredited by either a regional or a national organization. There are two basic kinds of accreditation. The school may earn Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on an individual program the school offers, 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, for example the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). In addition to helping ensure that you receive a superior education, the accreditation can also help in getting financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently not offered in Leeds AL for non-accredited schools. Also, for those states or municipalities that require licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited as well.
Apprenticeship and Job Placement Programs. Many welder certificate or degree programs are provided in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Some other schools will help place 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 relationships with local unions and other metal working businesses to which they can place their students. More established schools may have a larger network of graduates that they can utilize for placements. These programs can assist students in finding employment and establish associations within the Leeds AL welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that begin an educational program and finish it. It’s essential that the welder program you select has a higher completion rate. A low rate could signify that the students who enrolled 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 verify that the school has a good reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of Leeds AL contacts to help students obtain employment or apprenticeships after graduation.
Modern Facilities and Equipment. After you have narrowed down your choice of welder schools to two or three options, you should think out going to the campuses to look over 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 similar to what you will be working with on the job. If you are not sure what to look for, and are currently in an apprenticeship program, consult with the master welder you are working under for guidance. Otherwise, ask a local Leeds AL welding contractor if they can give you a few suggestions.
School Location. Even though we previously briefly covered the significance of location, there are a couple of additional issues that we need to cover. You should bear in mind that unless you can relocate, the welder school you choose must be within driving distance of your Leeds AL home. If you do choose to enroll in an out-of-state school, apart from relocation expenses there could be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially true for welder certificate programs offered by community colleges. Additionally, 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 should be in a region or state where you subsequently will desire to work.
Smaller Classes. Individualized training is important for a manual trade such as welding. It’s easy to get lost in larger classes and not obtain much personalized instruction. Ask what the average class size is for the welder schools you are reviewing. Ask if you can attend some classes so that you can experience how much individual attention the students are receiving. While there, talk with several of the students and get their opinions. Also, talk to some of the teachers and ask what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they hold.
Flexible Class Scheduling. Lots of folks learn a new trade while still working at their current job. Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are looking at are convenient enough to meet your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Leeds AL, make certain that the schools you are looking at provide those options. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the policy is to make up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
Will You Be Attending Welding School Near Leeds AL?
Perhaps you live in the Leeds 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.
Leeds is a tri-county municipality located in Jefferson, St. Clair, and Shelby counties in the State of Alabama and is an eastern suburb of Birmingham. As of the 2010 census, the population of the city was 11,773.
The War of 1812, geography, geology, and three cultures shaped the history of Leeds. Lying at the crossroads of desecrated ancient Native-American paths in the center of Alabama, Leeds drew European and African-American settlers to a land of fertile growing seasons and rich sources of coal and mineral ore. The early settlers built churches and schools with many remaining in Cedar Grove, Oak Ridge, Ohanafeefee and Mt. Pleasant. The principal survey of Leeds was entered into Jefferson County Map Book 10, page 21, in 1908. The settlement, dating to 1818 and incorporating on April 27, 1887 as "Leeds", has existed along the banks of the Little Cahaba River; beside an historic stagecoach route; and along two large railroads for the greater part of American History.
James Hamilton, a Scottish-Irish American veteran of the War of 1812 and first sheriff of Shelby County, settled in Cedar Grove in 1816. John Richard Ingram Pashal Stewart, a Cherokee English teacher and American veteran of the War of 1812, settled at Ohanafeefee Village c.1840. At Oak Ridge in 1820 or 1821, European settlers formed Shiloh Cumberland Presbyterian Church, the first CPC congregation in middle Alabama. By 1887, the original railroad pioneers included free African-American settlers who came to work at the Leeds cement plant and the Central of Georgia as the Georgia Pacific railroads. Some gravitated to historic Mt. Pleasant Church where a handful of freed slaves had founded Scott City, Hillard Holley, Ciscero Davis, Jeff Harris, and Bill Johnson started Leeds Negro/Primary School in 1921.
Online Welder Training
Welding is very much a hands-on kind of profession, and consequently not extremely compatible with training online. Having said that, there are a few online welding classes offered by specific community colleges and trade schools in the greater Leeds AL area that can count toward a degree or certificate program. These courses primarily cover such topics as reading blueprints, safety,, and metallurgy. They can help give a beginner a basis to begin their education and training. However, the most significant point is that you can’t learn how to weld or handle welding materials until you actually do it. Clearly that can’t be done online. These skills must be learned in an on-campus setting or in an apprenticeship. Online or distance learning is better suited for seasoned welders that want to advance their knowledge or possibly obtain a more advanced degree. So if you should discover an online welding certificate or degree program, be very cautious and make certain that the bulk of the training is done on campus or in a workshop type of setting.
Select the Best Welding Tech Program Leeds AL
Picking the right welder training program will undoubtedly be the most critical decision you will make to start your new profession. As we have discussed in this article, there are several things that you will need to assess and compare among the programs you are reviewing. It’s a necessity that any welding training that you are assessing includes a lot of hands-on instruction. Classes should be smaller in size and each student must have their personal welding machine to train with. Classroom instruction should offer a real-world perspective, and the training program should be current and in-line with industry standards. Training programs vary in length and the kind of credential provided, so you will need to determine what length of program and degree or certificate will best fulfill your needs. Each program offers different possibilities for certification as well. Perhaps the best approach to research your short list of schools is to visit each campus and talk with the students and instructors. Take the time to sit in on some classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the training program you decide on is the right one for you. With the proper training, hard work and dedication, the end result will be a new career as a professional welder in Leeds AL.