How to Choose a Welding Trade School near Gulf Shores Alabama
Choosing the right welding school near Gulf Shores AL is an essential first step to starting your new career as a professional welder. But since there are a lot of schools to choose from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more importantly, once you have narrowed down your alternatives, how do you pick the best one? A number of prospective students start by checking out the schools that are closest to their homes. When they have found those that are within commuting distance, they gravitate toward the least costly one. Yes, location and tuition cost are crucial concerns when evaluating welder trade schools, but they are not the only ones. Other factors include such things as reputation, accreditation 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 chosen 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 Training Programs
There are a number of alternatives available to receive training as a welder in a trade or technical school. You can obtain a a certificate, a diploma or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are offered in Welding Technology or Welding Engineering, but are more advanced programs than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also offered combined with an apprenticeship program. Below are short descriptions of the most prevalent welding programs offered in the Gulf Shores AL.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are normally made available by technical and trade schools and require about one year to complete. They are more hands-on training in nature, fashioned mainly to teach welding skills. They can provide a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or additional skills for working welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take two years to finish and are most often offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology furnishes a more well-rounded education than the diploma or certificate while still furnishing the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
Some municipalities and states do have licensing prerequisites for welders, therefore make sure to find out for your location of future employment. As needed, the welding school you choose should ready you for any licensing exams that you will need to pass in addition to supplying the proper training to become a qualified welder.
Welding Certification Options
There are multiple institutions that provide welder certifications, which evaluate the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Numerous Gulf Shores AL employers not only expect a degree or certificate from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a highly regarded organization like the American Welding Society (AWS). A variety of certifications are available dependent on the kind 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
- Work based on contract specifications
As earlier mentioned, various states, cities or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those calling for licensing, some also require certification for various types of work. Certification is also a means to demonstrate to employers that you are a highly skilled and experienced welder. So similarly as with licensing, look into the requirements for your local area and make sure that the welder trade school you select readies you for certification if needed.
How to Select a Welder Technical Program
Once you have chosen the credential you want to attain, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can begin to evaluate schools. As you probably know, there are a large number of welder trade and technical schools in the Gulf Shores AL area. That’s why it’s necessary to decide up front what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have already covered 2 significant ones that most people look at first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As mentioned, although they are essential qualifications, they are not the only ones that should be looked at. After all, the program you pick is going to furnish the instruction that will be the foundation of your new vocation as a welder. So following are some additional factors you might need to evaluate before picking a welder trade school.
Accreditation. It’s very important that the welder vocational school you choose is accredited by either a regional or a national agency. There are 2 basic types 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, such as Welding Technology. So make sure that the program you choose is accredited, not just the school alone. Additionally, 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 get a quality education, the accreditation might also assist in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases not offered in Gulf Shores AL for schools that are not accredited. 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. Many welder diploma or degree programs are offered combined with an apprenticeship program. Some other schools will help place you in an apprenticeship or a job upon graduation. Find out if the schools you are considering assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. These schools must have relationships with local unions and other metal working businesses to which they can refer their students. More established schools may have a more substantial network of graduates that they can rely upon for placements. These programs can assist students in finding employment and develop associations within the Gulf Shores AL welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that enroll in an academic program and finish it. It’s important that the welder school you pick has a higher completion rate. A lower rate may indicate that the students who joined the program were unhappy with the instruction, the teachers, or the facilities, and quit. The job placement rate is also a good indicator of the quality of training. A high job placement rate will not only affirm that the program has an excellent reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of Gulf Shores AL employer relationships to help students obtain employment or apprenticeships after graduation.
Up-to-date Equipment and Facilities. Once you have decreased your selection of welder programs to 2 or 3 possibilities, you should think out going to the campuses to inspect their facilities. Verify 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 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 Gulf Shores AL welding contractor if they can give you a few suggestions.
School Location. Although we previously briefly talked about the relevance of location, there are a couple of additional issues that we should deal with. You should keep in mind that unless you are able to move, the welder program you pick needs to be within driving distance of your Gulf Shores AL home. If you do choose to attend an out-of-state school, apart from moving costs there may be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly true for welding diploma programs offered by community colleges. Also, if the school offers an apprenticeship or job placement program, often their placements are within the school’s local community. So the location of the school needs to be in a region or state where you ultimately will desire to work.
Small Classes. Personalized training is essential for a hands-on trade such as welding. It’s easy to get overlooked in bigger classes and not obtain much individualized training. Ask what the typical class size is for the welder schools you are reviewing. Ask if you can sit in on a few classes so that you can see how much personal attention the students are getting. While there, speak with several of the students and get their opinions. Similarly, chat with some of the teachers and find out what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they hold.
Convenient Class Scheduling. Many people learn a new profession while still working at their current job. Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are looking at are flexible enough to satisfy your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Gulf Shores AL, verify that the schools you are looking at offer those alternatives. If you can only enroll part-time, confirm that the school you choose offers part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the protocol is to make up classes if you you miss any because of work, sickness or family emergencies.
Will You Be Attending Welding School Near Gulf Shores AL?
Perhaps you live in the Gulf Shores 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.
Gulf Shores, Alabama
Gulf Shores is located on the Gulf of Mexico at 30°16'4.069" North, 87°42'5.285" West (30.267797, −87.701468). It is the southernmost settlement in the state of Alabama. It is served by Alabama State Route 59 (Gulf Shores Parkway), which leads north to Foley. Route 182 (Beach Boulevard) runs east-west along the shore front, while Route 180 (Fort Morgan Road) runs parallel to it, north of Little Lagoon. Gulf State Park occupies a large eastern part of the city.
Gulf Shores is located 33 miles (53 km) west of Pensacola, Florida, 54 miles (87 km) south of Mobile, 197 miles (317 km) east of New Orleans, 194 miles (312 km) south of Montgomery, and 55 miles (89 km) west of Navarre, Florida.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 28.0 square miles (72.5 km2), of which 23.2 square miles (60.0 km2) is land and 4.8 square miles (12.5 km2), or 17.24%, is water.
Online Welder Training Programs
Welding is very much a manual type of profession, and consequently not very suitable for online training. Having said that, there are a small number of online welding courses offered by various community colleges and vocational schools in the greater Gulf Shores AL area that can count toward a certificate or degree program. These courses primarily cover such subjects as safety, reading blueprints, and metallurgy. They can help provide a beginner a basis to start their training and education. Nevertheless, the most important point is that you can’t learn how to weld or handle welding materials unless you actually do it. Clearly 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 more appropriate for seasoned welders that would like to advance their expertise or possibly obtain a more advanced degree. So if you should find an online welding certificate or degree program, be very careful and make certain that the majority of the training is done on campus or in a workshop type of environment.
Choose the Ideal Welding Trade School Gulf Shores AL
Picking the ideal welding school will probably be the most important decision you will make to launch your new trade. As we have discussed in this article, there are several factors that you will need to assess and compare between the programs you are looking at. It’s a prerequisite that any welding training that you are examining includes a considerable amount of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be smaller in size and every student should have their personal welding machine to train with. Classroom instruction should provide a real-world context, and the curriculum should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Training programs vary in length and the kind of credential offered, so you will need to ascertain what length of program and credential will best satisfy your needs. Every training program provides unique possibilities for certification also. Probably the best approach to research your short list of schools is to go to each campus and speak with the faculty and students. Invest some time to attend some classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the program you decide on is the best one for you. With the proper training, hard work and dedication, the final outcome will be a new trade as a professional welder in Gulf Shores AL.