How to Find the Right Welding Certification Program near Opelika Alabama
Finding the ideal welding vocational school near Opelika AL is an essential first step to beginning your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are numerous schools to select from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more significantly, once you have fine tuned your choices, how do you pick the best one? Most people start by looking at the schools that are nearest to their homes. When they have found those that are within commuting distance, they gravitate toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and tuition cost are necessary concerns when examining welding trade schools, but they are not the only ones. Other considerations include such things as reputation, accreditation and job placement rates. So before initiating your search for a vocational school to become a welder, it’s wise to establish 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 several options to get training as a welder in a trade or vocational school. You can earn a a certificate, a diploma or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are available in Welding Technology or Welding Engineering, but are more advanced courses than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Below are brief explanations of the most prevalent welding programs available in the Opelika AL.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are normally offered by trade and technical schools and require about 1 year to finish. They are more hands-on training in nature, created primarily to teach welding skills. They can provide a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or specialized skills for experienced welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take two years to complete and are most often offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology provides a more extensive education than the certificate or diploma while still providing the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
Some municipalities and states do have licensing requirements for welders, so make sure to check for your location of potential employment. As required, the welder school you pick should ready you for any licensing exams that you will need to pass in addition to providing the appropriate training to become a professional welder.
Welding Certification Alternatives
There are various organizations that provide welding certifications, which assess the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Numerous Opelika AL employers not only expect a degree or certificate from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a highly regarded organization such as the American Welding Society (AWS). A variety of certifications are offered based upon the type of work that the welder performs. Some of the things that certification can attest to are the welder’s ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specific metal thicknesses
- Work with specific kinds of welds
- Perform according to contract specifications
As already mentioned, some states, cities or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those mandating licensing, some also require certification for various kinds of work. Certification is also a means to prove to employers that you are an extremely skilled and experienced welder. So just as with licensing, check the requirements for your local area and make sure that the welder technical school you select prepares you for certification if needed.
How to Select a Welding Vocational Program
As soon as you have decided on the credential you would like to obtain, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can begin to compare schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are many welder vocational and trade schools in the Opelika AL area. That’s why it’s important to establish in advance what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have previously discussed a couple of important ones that many people look at first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As mentioned, although they are very important qualifications, they are not the only ones that should be looked at. After all, the program you pick is going to furnish the education that will be the foundation of your new profession as a welder. So following are some additional factors you may want to evaluate before selecting a welding trade school.
Accreditation. It’s essential that the welder trade school you select is accredited by either a regional or a national organization. There are two standard kinds of accreditation. The school may receive Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on an individual program the school offers, for example Welding Technology. So confirm that the program you choose is accredited, not just the school itself. Additionally, 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). In addition to helping make sure that you obtain a quality education, the accreditation might also assist in getting financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable in Opelika 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. Numerous welder degree or diploma programs are provided combined with an apprenticeship program. Some other schools will help place you in a job or an apprenticeship upon graduation. Find out if the schools you are looking at help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. The schools must have partnerships with local unions and other metal working businesses to which they can refer their students. Older schools may have a larger network of graduates that they can rely upon for referrals. These programs can help students find employment and develop associations within the Opelika AL welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that start an academic program and complete it. It’s crucial that the welding program you select has a higher completion rate. A low rate may signify that the students who were in the program were dissatisfied with the training, the instructors, or the facilities, and dropped out. The job placement rate is also an indication of the quality of training. A higher job placement rate will not only confirm that the school has a good reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of Opelika AL employer relationships to assist students secure employment or apprenticeships upon graduation.
Modern Equipment and Facilities. Once you have decreased your choice of welding schools to two or three possibilities, you should think out visiting the campuses to look over their facilities. Make sure that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are modern. In particular, the training equipment should be comparable to what you will be working with 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. Otherwise, ask a local Opelika AL welding contractor if they can give you some tips.
School Location. Even though we already briefly discussed the importance of location, there are a few additional points that we need to deal with. You should bear in mind that unless you are able to relocate, the welding program you choose must be within driving distance of your Opelika AL home. If you do choose to attend an out-of-state school, apart from relocation expenses there might be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially true for welding certificate 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 should be in an area or state where you subsequently will desire to work.
Smaller Classes. Individualized instruction is essential for a manual trade such as welding. It’s easy to get overlooked in bigger classes and not obtain much one-on-one instruction. Find out what the usual class size is for the welding schools you are looking at. Inquire if you can sit in on a few classes so that you can see just how much individual attention the students are getting. While there, speak with a few of the students and get their evaluations. Also, speak with some of the instructors and ask what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they hold.
Convenient Class Scheduling. Many people learn a new profession while still employed at their current job. Make sure that the class schedules for the schools you are looking at are convenient enough to meet your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Opelika AL, make certain that the schools you are considering provide those choices. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, verify that the school you choose offers part-time enrollment. Also, check to see what the policy is to make up classes if you you miss any because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Will You Be Attending Welding School Near Opelika AL?
Perhaps you live in the Opelika 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.
Opelika (pronounced /ˌoʊpəˈlaɪkə/ OH-pə-LY-kə) is a city in and the county seat of Lee County in the east central part of the State of Alabama. It is a principal city of the Auburn-Opelika Metropolitan Area. According to the 2013 Census Estimate, the population of Opelika was 28,635. The Auburn-Opelika, AL MSA with a population of 150,933 which, along with the Columbus, Georgia metropolitan area and Macon County, Alabama, comprises the Greater Columbus, Georgia, a region home to 501,649 residents.
The first white settlers in the area now known as Opelika arrived in the late 1830s and established a community called Lebanon. After the removal of the native Creek (Muscogee) peoples by federal troops in 1836-37, the area became known as "Opelika." This word taken from the Muskogee language means "large swamp".
In 1848, the Montgomery and West Point Railroad Company extended a rail line from Montgomery, Alabama, to Opelika, and in 1851, completed a connection to West Point, Georgia, thus connecting Opelika with Atlanta, Georgia. This line was the only direct rail route between New Orleans and the Eastern Seaboard. It rapidly became one of the primary trade lines for shipments of raw cotton from Southern plantations to the North. The Montgomery and West Point was soon joined by a rail connection to Columbus, Georgia, in 1855, and a connection to Birmingham, Alabama, in 1869. Almost overnight, Opelika became a regional hub for commerce.
Online Welding Certificate and Degree Programs
Welding is very much a hands-on type of trade, and consequently not very suitable for online training. However, there are a small number of online welding classes offered by specific community colleges and technical schools in the greater Opelika AL area that can be credited toward a degree or certificate program. These courses mainly cover such topics as reading blueprints, safety,, and metallurgy. They can help give a novice a foundation to initiate their education and training. Nevertheless, the most important point is that you can’t learn how to weld or handle welding materials until you actually do it. Obviously that can’t be performed online. These skills have to 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 perhaps obtain a more advanced degree. So if you should come across an online welding degree or certificate program, be very cautious and confirm that the majority of the training is done on campus or in a workshop type of environment.
Find the Ideal Welding Vocational School Opelika AL
Selecting the best welding school will probably be the most critical decision you will make to start your new profession. As we have covered in this article, there are several factors that you will need to evaluate and compare among the programs you are looking at. It’s a necessity that any welding school that you are reviewing includes a good deal of hands-on training. Classes need to be smaller in size and every student should have their own welding machine to train on. Classroom teaching should offer a real-world context, and the course of study should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Programs vary in duration and the type of credential provided, so you will have to determine what length of program and credential will best fulfill your needs. Every program offers unique options for certification also. Probably The ideal means to research your short list of schools is to visit each campus and talk with the students and faculty. Invest some time to monitor some classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the school you decide on is the right one for you. With the proper training, hard work and dedication, the final result will be a new career as a professional welder in Opelika AL.