How to Pick a Welding Certification Program near Orange Beach Alabama
Locating the ideal welder vocational school near Orange Beach AL is an important first step to launching your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are so many schools to pick from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more significantly, once you have fine tuned your choices, how do you pick the best one? Many 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 least expensive one. Yes, location and tuition cost are important concerns when examining welder technical 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 prudent to establish 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.
Welder Certificate and Degree Programs
There are a number of alternatives available to receive training as a welder in a technical or trade school. You can earn a diploma, a certificate or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are available 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 short summaries of the most common welding programs available in the Orange Beach AL.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are generally offered by technical and trade schools and require about a year to complete. They are more hands-on training in scope, created primarily to teach welding skills. They can furnish a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or supplemental skills for experienced welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take 2 years to finish and are usually offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology offers a more well-rounded education than the certificate or diploma while still supplying the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
A number of states and municipalities do have licensing prerequisites for welders, therefore don’t forget to check for your location of potential employment. As needed, the welding school you pick should prep you for any licensing exams that you will need to take in addition to furnishing the appropriate training to become a qualified welder.
Welder Certification Alternatives
There are various organizations that provide welder certifications, which assess the knowledge and skill level of those applying. Numerous Orange Beach AL employers not only require a degree or certificate from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a respected agency like the American Welding Society (AWS). Different certifications are available based upon the type of work that the welder performs. A few of the things that certification can acknowledge are the welder’s ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with certain metal thicknesses
- Work with various kinds of welds
- Operate according to contract specifications
As previously stated, many states, cities or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those mandating licensing, a number additionally require certification for different types of work. Certification is also a way to prove to employers that you are an extremely skilled and experienced welder. So just as with licensing, look into the requirements for your location and verify that the welding technical school you choose preps you for certification if needed.
How to Pick a Welding Technical School
When you have decided on the credential you would like to obtain, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can begin to evaluate schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are many welding trade and technical schools in the Orange Beach AL area. That’s why it’s important to establish up front what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have already covered a couple of important ones that most 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 considered. After all, the program you pick is going to furnish the instruction that will be the foundation of your new profession as a welder. So below are some additional factors you might need to evaluate before picking a welding vocational school.
Accreditation. It’s extremely important that the welder tech school you choose is accredited by either a regional or a national agency. There are 2 standard types of accreditation. The school may receive Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on an individual program the school has, for instance Welding Technology. So confirm that the program you select is accredited, not just the school itself. Additionally, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, like the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). In addition to helping ensure that you get a superior education, the accreditation may also assist in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently unavailable in Orange Beach AL for non-accredited schools. Finally, 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 diploma or degree programs are provided combined with an apprenticeship program. Some other schools will help place you in a job or an apprenticeship upon graduation. Ask if the schools you are looking at help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. These schools should have relationships with local unions and various metal working businesses to which they can place their students. More established schools may have a larger network of graduates that they can rely upon for placements. These programs can assist students in finding employment and develop relationships within the Orange Beach AL welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that start an educational program and finish it. It’s important that the welding program you pick has a higher completion rate. A reduced rate may mean that the students who were in the program were dissatisfied with the training, the teachers, or the facilities, and dropped out. The job placement rate is also an indication of the caliber of training. A higher job placement rate will not only confirm that the program has a good reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of Orange Beach AL contacts to assist students secure employment or apprenticeships upon graduation.
Modern Facilities and Equipment. After you have narrowed down your choice of welding programs to 2 or 3 possibilities, you should consider visiting the campuses to look over their facilities. Make sure that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be taught on are modern. Specifically, the training equipment should be comparable to what you will be working with in the field. If you are not sure what to look for, and are currently in an apprenticeship program, ask the master welder you are working under for guidance. Otherwise, ask a local Orange Beach AL welding professional if they can give you some tips.
School Location. Even though we already briefly covered the relevance of location, there are a few additional issues that we should deal with. You should bear in mind that unless you are able to move, the welder school you choose must be within driving distance of your Orange Beach AL home. If you do decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides relocation expenses there may be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly the case for welder diploma programs offered by community colleges. Furthermore, if the school offers a job placement or apprenticeship program, often their placements are within the school’s regional community. So the location of the school should be in an area or state where you subsequently will want to work.
Small Classes. Personalized instruction is important for a hands-on trade such as welding. It’s possible to get overlooked in bigger classes and not obtain much one-on-one training. Ask what the average class size is for the welding schools you are reviewing. Inquire if you can sit in on some classes so that you can observe just how much personal attention the students are receiving. While there, speak with some of the students and get their feedback. Also, talk to a couple of the instructors and find out what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they hold.
Flexible Class Scheduling. Many people learn a new trade while still working at their present job. Confirm that the class schedules for the schools you are reviewing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Orange Beach AL, verify that the schools you are looking at provide those options. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the school you pick offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the policy is to make up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Will You Be Attending Welding School Near Orange Beach AL?
Perhaps you live in the Orange Beach 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.
Orange Beach, Alabama
Orange Beach is located along the Gulf of Mexico, and is the easternmost community on Alabama's Gulf Coast, with Florida's Perdido Key bordering it to the east. The city of Gulf Shores is to the west.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 15.9 square miles (41.3 km2), of which 14.7 square miles (38.1 km2) is land and 1.2 square miles (3.2 km2), or 7.83%, is water.
As of the census of 2010, there were 5,441 people, 2,492 households, and 1,544 families residing in the city. The population density was 370 per square mile (140/km2). There were 11,726 housing units at an average density of 737.5 per square mile (284.8/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 94.3% White, 0.6% Black or African American, 0.7% Native American, 0.8% Asian, 1.4% from other races, and 2.2% from two or more races. 2.6% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
Online Welding Certificate and Degree Programs
Welding is very much a hands-on kind of trade, and therefore not very suitable for online training. However, there are some online welding classes offered by certain community colleges and vocational schools in the greater Orange Beach AL area that may be credited toward a certificate or degree program. These courses mainly cover such topics as reading blueprints, safety,, and metallurgy. They can help provide a beginner a basis to start their education and training. However, the most important point is that you can’t learn how to weld or use welding materials unless you actually do it. Obviously that can’t be done online. These skills need to be learned in an on-campus environment or in an apprenticeship. Online or distance learning is better suited for seasoned welders that want to advance their expertise or possibly attain a more advanced degree. So if you should discover an online welding degree or certificate program, be very careful and make sure that the greater part of the training is done on campus or in a workshop type of setting.
Pick the Best Welding Technical School Orange Beach AL
Choosing the right welder training program will undoubtedly be the most important decision you will make to begin 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 reviewing. It’s a necessity that any welding training program that you are considering includes a considerable amount of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be smaller in size and each student should have their own welding machine to train on. Classroom teaching should offer a real-world perspective, and the training program should be current and conform with industry standards. Courses differ in duration and the type of credential provided, so you will have to decide what length of program and certificate or degree will best fulfill your needs. Each program provides unique possibilities for certification as well. Probably the best approach to research your final list of schools is to go to each campus and talk with the students and instructors. Invest some time to attend some classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain 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 trade as a professional welder in Orange Beach AL.