Welding Schools Near Me | How to Become a Welder – Alton IL

How to Select a Welder Certification Class near Alton Illinois

Alton IL welding school studentLocating the right welder vocational school near Alton IL is an essential first step to launching 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 notably, once you have narrowed down your alternatives, how do you select the right one? Most people start by looking at the schools that are closest to their residences. When they have located those that are within driving distance, they gravitate toward the least expensive one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are important issues when reviewing welding vocational schools, but they are not the only ones. Other factors 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 wise to create a list of qualifications that your chosen 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 Training Courses

Alton IL welder working on pipingThere are a number of alternatives available to obtain training as a welder in a technical or trade school. You can earn a diploma, a certificate or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are offered 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. Below are short descriptions of the most typical welding programs available in the Alton IL.

  • Certificate and Diploma Programs are normally made available by trade and technical schools and take about a year to complete. They are more hands-on training in nature, designed primarily to develop welding skills. They can provide a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or additional skills for experienced 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 supplying the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.

Many municipalities and states do have licensing requirements for welders, so make sure to find out for your location of future employment. If required, the welder school you pick should prep you for any licensing examinations that you will need to take in addition to providing the appropriate training to become a professional welder.

Welding Certification Choices

Alton IL welder working on poleThere are multiple institutions that offer welding certifications, which evaluate the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Many Alton IL employers not only require a degree or certificate from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a highly regarded organization like the American Welding Society (AWS). Different certifications are offered based on the kind of work that the welder does. Just some of the skills that certification can acknowledge are the welder’s ability to

  • Work in compliance with specific codes
  • Work with certain metal thicknesses
  • Work with various types of welds
  • Work based on contract specifications

As earlier mentioned, various cities, states or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those requiring licensing, many also require certification for various types of work. Certification is also a way to demonstrate to employers that you are an extremely skilled and qualified welder. So similarly as with licensing, look into the requirements for your local area and confirm that the welding trade school you select preps you for certification if needed.

How to Choose a Welder Tech School

Alton IL welder working on carAs soon as you have chosen the credential you would like to obtain, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can start to evaluate schools. As you can imagine, there are numerous welder vocational and trade schools in the Alton IL area. That’s why it’s necessary to determine up front what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have already discussed a couple of important ones that most people consider first, which are location and tuition cost. As mentioned, although they are essential qualifiers, they are not the only ones that should be looked at. After all, the program you pick is going to furnish the training that will be the foundation of your new career as a welder. So below are more factors you may want to evaluate before picking a welder vocational school.

Accreditation. It’s essential that the welder vocational school you decide on is accredited by either a national or a regional organization. There are two basic kinds of accreditation. The school may attain Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on an individual program the school has, such as Welding Technology. So make certain that the program you select is accredited, not just the school itself. Also, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, such as the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). In addition to helping ensure that you obtain a superior education, the accreditation might also help in getting financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases not available in Alton IL 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.

Job Assistance and Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of welder degree or certificate programs are offered combined with an apprenticeship program. Some other schools will assist in placing you in a job or an apprenticeship after graduation. Ask if the schools you are considering help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. These schools should have relationships with local unions and other metal working businesses to which they can place their students. Older schools may have a larger network of graduates that they can rely upon for placements. These programs can help students find employment and establish relationships within the Alton IL welding community.

Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that enroll in an instructional program and complete it. It’s important that the welder program you select has a high completion rate. A lower rate could mean that the students who enrolled in the program were unhappy 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 high job placement rate will not only verify that the program has an excellent reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of Alton IL employer relationships to assist students secure apprenticeships or employment upon graduation.

Modern Facilities and Equipment. Once you have limited your choice of welder schools to two or three possibilities, you should consider visiting the campuses to look over their facilities. Confirm that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be instructed on are modern. In particular, the training equipment should be comparable to what you will be using in the field. 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 Alton IL welding professional if they can give you some pointers.

School Location. Even though we already briefly covered the importance of location, there are a couple of additional issues that we should deal with. You should remember that unless you are able to relocate, the welder program you choose must be within driving distance of your Alton IL home. If you do opt to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides relocation costs there could be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly true for welder diploma programs offered by community colleges. Additionally, if the school offers a job placement or apprenticeship program, more than likely their placements are within the school’s regional community. So the location of the school needs to be in an area or state where you subsequently will desire to work.

Smaller Classes. One-on-one training is important for a manual trade such as welding. It’s easy to get overlooked in larger classes and not get much individualized training. Ask what the typical class size is for the welder schools you are considering. Inquire if you can sit in on some classes so that you can observe just how much individual attention the students are receiving. While there, speak with some of the students and get their feedback. Also, talk with a couple of the teachers and ask what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they hold.

Flexible Class Schedules. Some people learn a new trade while still working at their present job. Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are considering are convenient enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Alton IL, confirm that the schools you are looking at offer those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you decide on 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 Alton IL?

Perhaps you live in the Alton Illinois 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.

Alton, Illinois

Alton is a city on the Mississippi River in Madison County, Illinois, United States, about 15 miles (24 km) north of St. Louis, Missouri. The population was 27,865 at the 2010 census. It is a part of the Metro-East region of the Greater St. Louis metropolitan area. It is famous for its limestone bluffs along the river north of the city, for its role preceding and during the American Civil War, and as the home town of jazz musician Miles Davis and Robert Wadlow, the tallest known person in history. It was the site of the last Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas debate in October 1858. The former state penitentiary in Alton was used during the Civil War to hold up to 12,000 Confederate prisoners of war.

Although Alton once was growing faster than its sister city of St. Louis, a coalition of St. Louis businessmen planned to build a competing town to stop its expansion and bring business to St. Louis. The result was Grafton, Illinois.

Many blocks of housing in Alton were built in the Victorian Queen Anne style; they represent a prosperous period in the river city's history. At the top of the hill in the commercial area, several stone churches and a fine city hall also represent the city's wealth during its good times based on river traffic, manufacturing and shipping. It was a commercial center for a large agricultural area. Numerous residences on hills have sweeping views of the Mississippi River.

Online Welding Schools

pipe welder at work in Alton ILWelding is very much a manual kind of profession, and consequently not very compatible with online training. Even so, there are a small number of online welding classes offered by certain community colleges and vocational schools in the greater Alton IL area that can be credited toward a degree or certificate program. These courses mainly cover such topics as safety, reading blueprints, and metallurgy. They can help provide a beginner a basis to begin their education and training. However, the most critical point is that you can’t learn how to weld or work with welding materials unless you actually do it. Naturally that can’t be performed online. These skills must be learned in an on-campus setting or in an apprenticeship. Online or distance learning is more appropriate for seasoned welders that would like to advance their expertise or perhaps attain a more advanced degree. So if you should discover an online welding certificate or degree program, be very careful and make sure that the larger part of the training is done on campus or in a workshop type of environment.

Choose the Right Welding Technical School Alton IL

Selecting the best welder school will probably be the most critical decision you will make to start your new profession. As we have discussed in this article, there are several factors that you will need to examine and compare between the schools you are considering. It’s a prerequisite that any welding training that you are reviewing includes a lot of hands-on training. Classes should be small in size and every student should have their personal welding machine to train with. Classroom education should offer a real-world frame of reference, and the training program should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Training programs vary in length and the type of credential offered, so you will have to decide what length of program and degree or certificate will best serve your needs. Each program offers unique options for certification also. Probably The ideal way to research your final list of schools is to check out each campus and speak with the students and instructors. Take the time to monitor a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the training program you pick is the ideal one for you. With the right training, effort and commitment, the end outcome will be a new career as a professional welder in Alton IL.

 

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