How to Find the Right Welder Trade School near Northport Alabama
Selecting the ideal welder technical school near Northport AL is an essential first step to launching your new career as a professional welder. But since there are numerous schools to choose from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more significantly, once you have narrowed down your options, how do you pick the best one? A number of people 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 expensive one. Yes, location and tuition cost are necessary considerations when reviewing welding technical 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 prudent to establish a list of qualifications that your selected school must have. But before we delve into our due diligence checklist, let’s talk a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welder Degree and Certificate Training Programs
There are a number of options 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 available in Welding Engineering or Welding Technology, but are more advanced degrees than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available along with an apprenticeship program. Below are short summaries of the most typical welding programs offered in the Northport AL.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are normally offered by trade and technical schools and require about one year to finish. They are more hands-on training in nature, created largely to develop welding skills. They can furnish a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or specialized skills for working welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take two years to complete and are most often offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology offers a more well-rounded education than the certificate or diploma while still providing the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
A number of municipalities and states do have licensing prerequisites for welders, so make sure to find out for your location of future employment. If required, the welding school you choose should prep you for any licensing exams that you will need to pass in addition to providing the suitable training to become a qualified welder.
Welder Certification Alternatives
There are several organizations that offer welder certifications, which evaluate the knowledge and skill level of those applying. Many Northport AL employers not only demand 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 performs. Some of the things that certification can acknowledge 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 previously mentioned, many states, cities or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those mandating licensing, some also require certification for different kinds of work. Certification is also a means to demonstrate 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 welder technical school you decide on readies you for certification if needed.
How to Pick a Welding Trade School
As soon as you have chosen the credential you want to obtain, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can start to assess schools. As you probably know, there are a large number of welder vocational and trade schools in the Northport AL area. That’s why it’s essential to establish up front what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have previously discussed a couple of important ones that many people look at first, which are location and tuition cost. As stated, although they are very important qualifiers, they are not the only ones that need to be looked at. After all, the school you select 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 choosing a welding technical school.
Accreditation. It’s extremely important that the welder vocational school you pick is accredited by either a national or a regional agency. There are 2 basic types of accreditation. The school may receive Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a single program the school offers, for instance Welding Technology. So make certain that the program you choose is accredited, not just the school itself. Also, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, like the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping ensure that you receive an excellent education, the accreditation can also assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable in Northport 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 Placement and Apprenticeship Programs. Many 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 upon graduation. Find out if the schools you are looking at help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. These schools must have associations with local unions and various metal working businesses to which they can refer their students. More established schools may have a more substantial network of graduates that they can utilize for placements. These programs can help students find employment and develop associations within the Northport AL welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that begin an academic program and finish it. It’s crucial that the welding program you select has a higher completion rate. A lower rate may mean that the students who were in the program were dissatisfied with the instruction, the teachers, or the facilities, and quit. The job placement rate is also an indication of the quality of training. A high job placement rate will not only confirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of Northport AL employer relationships to assist students obtain apprenticeships or employment upon graduation.
Modern Facilities and Equipment. After you have limited your selection of welder schools 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 trained on are up-to-date. In particular, the training equipment should be comparable to what you will be working with on the job. 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 Northport AL welding contractor if they can give you some suggestions.
School Location. Although we already briefly covered the significance of location, there are a couple of additional points that we should address. You should remember that unless you have the ability to relocate, the welding program you pick must be within commuting distance of your Northport AL home. If you do choose to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides relocation expenses there may be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly true for welder diploma programs offered by community colleges. Also, if the school provides 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 an area or state where you subsequently will want to work.
Smaller Classes. One-on-one training is essential for a hands-on trade such as welding. It’s easy to be lost in bigger classes and not get much personalized training. Find out what the average class size is for the welding programs you are considering. Ask if you can attend a couple of classes so that you can experience just how much personal attention the students are receiving. While there, speak with several of the students and get their evaluations. Similarly, talk with some of the trainers and find out what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they hold.
Convenient Class Scheduling. Some people learn a new profession while still employed at their present job. Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are looking at are convenient enough to meet your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Northport AL, confirm that the schools you are assessing provide those alternatives. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you pick offers part-time enrollment. Also, check to see what the policy is to make up classes if you you miss any due to work, illness or family circumstances.
Will You Be Attending Welding School Near Northport AL?
Perhaps you live in the Northport 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.
Northport is a city in Tuscaloosa County in the west central part of the State of Alabama. Located on the Black Warrior River across from downtown Tuscaloosa, it is currently the 21st largest city in Alabama with an estimated population of 24,497 in 2013. It incorporated in 1871. It is part of the Tuscaloosa Metropolitan Statistical Area.
As Northport is adjacent to the larger city of Tuscaloosa, many residents work in Tuscaloosa or other parts of Tuscaloosa County. Although the two cities share a land boundary, much of their boundary (and historically all of the boundary) is the Black Warrior River.
As of the census of 2000, there were 19,435 people, 7,844 households, and 5,255 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,328.3 people per square mile (512.9/km²). There were 8,509 housing units at an average density of 581.6 per square mile (224.6/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 71.11% White, 26.03% Black or African American, 0.19% Native American, 0.80% Asian, 0.15% Pacific Islander, 1.02% from other races, and 0.70% from two or more races. 1.92% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
Online Welding Certificate and Degree Programs
Welding is very much a manual kind of trade, and therefore not very compatible with online training. Even so, there are a few online welding courses offered by various community colleges and technical schools in the greater Northport AL area that can be credited toward a certificate or degree program. These courses mainly deal with such subjects as safety, reading blueprints, and metallurgy. They can help provide a novice a foundation to begin their training and education. Nevertheless, the most critical point is that you can’t learn how to weld or use welding materials unless you actually do it. Naturally that can’t be done online. These skills have to be learned in an on-campus environment or in an apprenticeship. Online or distance learning is better suited for seasoned welders that would like to advance their knowledge or possibly obtain a more advanced degree. So if you should find an online welding degree or certificate program, be very cautious and make sure that the bulk of the training is done on campus or in a workshop type of environment.
Select the Ideal Welding Vocational Program Northport AL
Selecting the right welder school will undoubtedly be the most critical decision you will make to start your new trade. As we have discussed in this article, there are many things that you will need to assess and compare between the programs you are considering. It’s a must that any welding school that you are reviewing includes a good deal of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be small in size and every student must have their own welding machine to train with. Classroom teaching should offer a real-world perspective, and the course of study should be current and conform with industry standards. Programs differ in length and the kind of credential offered, so you will have to ascertain what length of program and degree or certificate will best satisfy your needs. Each program provides different options for certification also. Perhaps the best way to research your final list of schools is to go to each campus and speak with the students and instructors. Invest some time to monitor a few classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the training program you pick is the best one for you. With the proper training, hard work and dedication, the final result will be a new career as a professional welder in Northport AL.
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