How to Pick a Welding Trade School near Prattville Alabama
Locating the ideal welder school near Prattville AL is an important first step to starting your new career 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 narrowed down your alternatives, how do you pick the right one? Many people start by reviewing the schools that are nearest to their residences. Once they have located those that are within driving distance, they are drawn toward the least costly one. Yes, location and tuition cost are crucial issues when examining welding trade schools, but they are not the only ones. Other considerations include such things as accreditation, reputation and job placement rates. So before starting your search for a vocational school to become a welder, it’s wise to develop a list of qualifications that your selected school must have. But before we delve into our due diligence checklist, let’s cover a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welder Degree and Certificate Programs
There are multiple alternatives available to get 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 available in Welding Engineering or Welding Technology, but are more advanced courses than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also offered along with an apprenticeship program. Following are brief summaries of the most prevalent welding programs offered in the Prattville AL.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are normally offered by trade and technical schools and take about a year to finish. They are more hands-on training in nature, created mainly to develop 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 2 years to finish and are usually offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology provides a more well-rounded 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 requirements for welders, so don’t forget to check for your location of future employment. As needed, the welder school you choose should ready you for any licensing exams that you will need to take in addition to providing the suitable training to become a professional welder.
Welder Certification Alternatives
There are several organizations that provide welder certifications, which evaluate the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Many Prattville 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 offered dependent on the kind of work that the welder performs. Some of the skills that certification can acknowledge are the welder’s ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with certain metal thicknesses
- Work with specific types of welds
- Perform according to contract specifications
As formerly stated, many states, cities or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those requiring licensing, a number also require certification for various types of work. Certification is also a means to demonstrate to employers that you are an extremely skilled and experienced welder. So similarly as with licensing, check the requirements for your local area and make certain that the welding technical school you decide on prepares you for certification if needed.
How to Decide on a Welder Technical School
After you have decided on the credential you want to obtain, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can begin to evaluate schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are a large number of welder trade and vocational schools in the Prattville AL area. That’s why it’s important to determine up front what qualifications your chosen school must have. We have previously covered a couple of significant 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 school you select is going to provide the training that will be the foundation of your new profession as a welder. So below are some additional factors you might want to evaluate before selecting a welder trade school.
Accreditation. It’s very important that the welder technical school you select is accredited by either a national or a regional agency. There are 2 standard types of accreditation. The school may earn Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a single program the school has, for example 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 organization, such as the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping ensure that you obtain a superior education, the accreditation might also assist in getting financial aid or student loans, which are frequently unavailable in Prattville 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.
Job Assistance and Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of welder diploma or degree programs are provided in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Some other schools will help place you in an apprenticeship or a job after graduation. Ask 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 refer their students. More established schools may have a larger network of graduates that they can rely upon for referrals. These programs can assist students in finding employment and establish associations within the Prattville AL welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that begin an instructional program and complete it. It’s important that the welder school you pick has a higher completion rate. A lower rate could mean that the students who joined the program were unhappy with the instruction, the instructors, or the facilities, and dropped out. The job placement rate is also a good indicator of the caliber of training. A high job placement rate will not only affirm that the program has an excellent reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of Prattville AL employer relationships to assist students secure apprenticeships or employment after graduation.
Modern Equipment and Facilities. After you have limited your selection of welder programs to 2 or 3 options, you should think out visiting the campuses to look over their facilities. Confirm that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be taught on are modern. In particular, 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 already in an apprenticeship program, ask the master welder you are working under for guidance. Otherwise, ask a local Prattville AL welding professional if they can give you a few tips.
School Location. Even though we already briefly covered the importance of location, there are a few additional issues that we need to cover. You should keep in mind that unless you are able to relocate, the welder school you choose must be within commuting distance of your Prattville AL home. If you do choose to attend an out-of-state school, besides moving costs there could be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially true for welding degree programs offered by community colleges. Also, if the school offers an apprenticeship or job placement program, more than likely 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 want to work.
Small Classes. One-on-one instruction is essential for a hands-on trade such as welding. It’s easy to be lost in larger classes and not receive much personalized training. Ask what the average class size is for the welder programs you are considering. Inquire if you can sit in on a few classes so that you can witness just how much individual attention the students are getting. While there, talk with a few of the students and get their opinions. Similarly, speak with a few of the teachers and find out what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they have earned.
Convenient Class Schedules. Lots of folks learn a new trade while still employed at their present job. Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are considering are convenient enough to meet your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Prattville AL, make sure that the schools you are looking at provide those options. If you can only attend part-time, 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 responsibilities.
Will You Be Attending Welding School Near Prattville AL?
Perhaps you live in the Prattville 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.
Prattville is a city in Autauga and Elmore counties in the State of Alabama. As of the 2010 census, the population of the city is 33,960. Nicknamed "The Fountain City" due to the many artesian wells in the area, Prattville is part of the Montgomery metropolitan statistical area and serves as the county seat of Autauga County.
Prattville was founded in 1839 by industrialist and architect Daniel Pratt. The area was largely inhabited by Native Americans and a few settlers when Pratt, a native of Temple, New Hampshire, first observed the Autauga Creek in the 1830s. He purchased approximately 1,000 acres (4.0 km2) from Joseph May at $21.00 an acre, and set out to build his manufacturing facilities and the town along the banks of Autauga Creek. The location was chosen because the creek could supply power to the cotton gin manufacturing equipment. The town became an industrial center and rapidly grew. In 1868, it was named the county seat for Autauga County.
On February 17, 2008, Prattville was hit by an F3 tornado which destroyed more than 45 homes and businesses and damaged over 700. Twenty-nine people were injured with no fatalities. Preliminary estimates put the damage at $85 million in insured and uninsured damages.
Online Welder Degree and Certificate Programs
Welding is very much a hands-on kind of vocation, and therefore not very suitable for training online. Having said that, there are some online welding programs offered by various community colleges and trade schools in the greater Prattville AL area that can be credited toward a certificate or degree program. These courses primarily deal with such topics as reading blueprints, safety,, and metallurgy. They can help provide a beginner a foundation to start their training and education. However, the most important point is that you can’t learn how to weld or handle welding materials until you actually do it. Clearly 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 more appropriate for experienced welders that would like to advance their knowledge or perhaps attain a more advanced degree. So if you should find 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 environment.
Pick the Ideal Welding Technical Program Prattville AL
Selecting the ideal welder school will probably be the most critical decision you will make to start your new career. As we have discussed in this article, there are a number of things that you will need to examine and compare between the schools you are considering. It’s a necessity that any welder school that you are assessing includes a good deal of hands-on instruction. Classes should be small in size and every student must have their own welding machine to train with. Classroom teaching should provide a real-world context, and the curriculum should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Training programs vary in duration and the type of credential provided, so you will need to decide what length of program and certificate or degree will best serve your needs. Every training program offers unique options for certification as well. Perhaps the best means to research your short list of schools is to go to each campus and speak with the teachers and students. Take the time to monitor a few classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the school you choose is the best one for you. With the right training, hard work and dedication, the final outcome will be a new trade as a professional welder in Prattville AL.