How to Select a Welder Certification Class near Winfield Alabama
Enrolling in the ideal welder vocational school near Winfield AL is an important first step to beginning 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 narrowed down your choices, how do you pick the best one? Many prospective students begin by checking out the schools that are closest to their homes. Once they have located those that are within driving distance, they gravitate toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are important considerations when reviewing welder technical schools, but they are not the only ones. Other concerns include such things as reputation, accreditation and job placement rates. So before beginning your search for a trade school to become a welder, it’s prudent to establish a list of qualifications that your chosen school must have. But before we explore our due diligence checklist, let’s cover a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welder 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 obtain 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 short summaries of the most typical welding programs available in the Winfield AL.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are normally offered by technical and trade schools and take about one year to complete. They are more hands-on training in nature, designed largely to teach welding skills. They can provide a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or supplemental skills for working welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take 2 years to finish and are most often offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology offers a more extensive education than the certificate or diploma while still providing the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
Many municipalities and states do have licensing prerequisites for welders, therefore make sure to find out for your location of future employment. As required, the welding school you pick should prep you for any licensing exams that you will need to take in addition to supplying the suitable training to become a professional welder.
Welder Certification Alternatives
There are a number of institutions that offer welder certifications, which evaluate the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Many Winfield AL employers not only expect a degree or certificate from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a respected agency such as the American Welding Society (AWS). A wide range of certifications are available based upon the type of work that the welder does. A few of the things that certification can attest to are the welder’s ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specific metal thicknesses
- Work with specific types of welds
- Work based on contract specifications
As earlier stated, many cities, states or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those requiring licensing, many also require certification for different types of work. Certification is also a way to demonstrate to employers that you are a highly skilled and experienced welder. So just as with licensing, check the requirements for your local area and make sure that the welder trade school you choose prepares you for certification as needed.
How to Pick a Welding Trade Program
After you have chosen the credential you want to earn, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can start to evaluate schools. As you probably know, there are numerous welder vocational and trade schools in the Winfield AL area. That’s why it’s important to decide in advance what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have already discussed a couple of significant ones that most people consider first, which are location and tuition cost. As mentioned, although they are very important qualifiers, they are not the only ones that need to be considered. After all, the school you decide on is going to furnish the instruction that will be the foundation of your new vocation as a welder. So below are more factors you may want to evaluate before picking a welder technical school.
Accreditation. It’s very important that the welding vocational school you select is accredited by either a national or a regional organization. There are two standard kinds of accreditation. The school may attain Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a single program the school has, for example Welding Technology. So verify that the program you pick is accredited, not just the school itself. Also, 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 make sure that you get a quality education, the accreditation might also assist in getting financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases not available in Winfield AL for non-accredited schools. Finally, for those states or local governments that mandate licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited as well.
Apprenticeship and Job Assistance Programs. Numerous welder certificate or degree programs are provided combined with an apprenticeship program. Various other schools will help place you in an apprenticeship or a job upon graduation. Find out if the schools you are considering help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. These schools should have relationships 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 utilize for referrals. These programs can help students find employment and establish relationships within the Winfield AL welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that begin an educational program and complete it. It’s essential that the welder program you select has a high completion rate. A low 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 higher job placement rate will not only confirm that the school has a good reputation within the trade, but additionally that it has the network of Winfield AL contacts to help students obtain employment or apprenticeships upon graduation.
Up-to-date Facilities and Equipment. After you have decreased your choice of welder programs to 2 or 3 options, you should consider going to the campuses to inspect their facilities. Make sure that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be instructed on are up-to-date. In particular, 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 currently in an apprenticeship program, consult with the master welder you are working under for guidance. If not, ask a local Winfield 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 issues that we need to address. You should remember that unless you have the ability to move, the welder program you choose must be within commuting distance of your Winfield AL home. If you do decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there could be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly true for welder degree 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 needs to be in a region or state where you ultimately will wish to work.
Smaller Classes. Personalized training is important for a hands-on trade such as welding. It’s possible to get overlooked in larger classes and not receive much individualized instruction. Ask what the usual class size is for the welder programs you are considering. Ask if you can sit in on some classes so that you can experience how much individual attention the students are receiving. While there, speak with a few of the students and get their evaluations. Similarly, chat with a couple of the trainers and find out what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they hold.
Convenient Class Schedules. Many people learn a new profession while still employed at their present job. Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Winfield AL, make sure that the schools you are looking at offer those options. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the school you decide on offers part-time enrollment. Also, check to see what the protocol is to make up classes if you you miss any due to work, illness or family circumstances.
Will You Be Attending Welding School Near Winfield AL?
Perhaps you live in the Winfield 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.
Winfield is a small city situated in Northwest Alabama 26 miles (42 km) east of the Mississippi state line. It lies in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountain range which stretches from the deep South all the way to Maine. Long before the earliest settlers arrived, Indian tribes hunted in the forest and fished in the streams and along and around Winfield. The town was originally called "Needmore", but when it was incorporated in either 1887 or 1891, the name was changed to Winfield in honor of General Winfield Scott. This area was once the Chickasaw Indian domain. Although there were no known Indian settlements within the county, several sites were maintained as hunting camps.
Winfield is located in southern Marion County at 33°55′42″N 87°48′29″W / 33.92833°N 87.80806°W / 33.92833; -87.80806 (33.928258, -87.807990), with a portion extending south into Fayette County. U.S. Route 43 passes through the city, leading northwest 6.5 miles (10.5 km) to Guin and south 18 miles (29 km) to Fayette. Hamilton, the Marion County seat, is 20 miles (32 km) northwest via US 43.
Winfield has a subtropical climate characterized by hot, humid summers, mild winters, and abundant rainfall during the late winter and spring. January sees average daily high temperatures of 53.0 °F (11.7 °C) and lows of 31.8 °F (−0.1 °C). In July, the average daily high is 90.6 °F (32.6 °C), and the low is 69.2 °F (20.7 °C). Snowfall is infrequent in the area, with a yearly average of 0.5 inches (12.7 mm). The average yearly rainfall in Winfield is about 52 inches (1,300 mm), with March being the wettest month and October the driest.
Online Welding Certificate and Degree Programs
Welding is very much a manual type of vocation, and consequently not extremely suitable for training online. Having said that, there are a few online welding programs offered by specific community colleges and vocational schools in the greater Winfield AL area that can be credited toward a certificate or degree program. These courses mainly cover such subjects as reading blueprints, safety,, and metallurgy. They can help give a novice a basis to initiate their training and education. However, the most significant point is that you can’t learn how to weld or use welding materials until you actually do it. Obviously that can’t be accomplished online. These skills need 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 expertise or perhaps attain a more advanced degree. So if you should come across an online welding certificate or degree program, be extremely cautious and make certain that the greater part of the training is done on campus or in a workshop type of environment.
Choose the Ideal Welding Tech School Winfield AL
Picking the right welding training program will undoubtedly be the most important decision you will make to begin your new trade. As we have discussed in this article, there are many factors that you will need to examine and compare among the schools you are considering. It’s a prerequisite that any welder school that you are considering includes a good deal of hands-on training. Classes need to be smaller in size and each student must have their personal welding machine to train with. Classroom education needs to provide a real-world perspective, and the training program should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Programs vary in duration and the kind of credential provided, so you will need to ascertain what length of program and credential will best satisfy your needs. Every program offers unique possibilities for certification as well. Probably the best approach to research your short list of schools is to visit each campus and talk with the faculty and students. Take the time to monitor a few 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 proper training, effort and dedication, the end result will be a new occupation as a professional welder in Winfield AL.