How to Pick a Welder Certification Class near Ashland Alabama
Choosing the ideal welding school near Ashland AL is an essential first step to starting your new career as a professional welder. But since there are so many schools to select 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 residences. Once they have identified those that are within commuting distance, they are drawn toward the least expensive one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are crucial issues when examining welder trade schools, but they are not the only ones. Other considerations include such things as accreditation, reputation and job placement rates. So before initiating your search for a vocational school to become a welder, it’s prudent 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 Training Programs
There are a number of options to obtain training as a welder in a technical or trade school. You can receive a a certificate, a diploma or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are offered in Welding Technology or Welding Engineering, but are more advanced courses than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also offered combined with an apprenticeship program. Below are brief descriptions of the most typical welding programs offered in the Ashland AL.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are generally made available by technical and trade schools and take about a year to finish. They are more hands-on training in nature, created largely to teach welding skills. They can provide a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or specialized 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 furnishes a more extensive education than the diploma or certificate while still supplying the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
Many municipalities and states do have licensing prerequisites for welders, therefore be sure to find out for your location of future employment. If needed, the welding school you choose should ready you for any licensing examinations that you will have to take in addition to providing the appropriate training to become a professional welder.
Welder Certification Alternatives
There are multiple organizations that provide welding certifications, which test the skill level and knowledge of those applying. A large number of Ashland AL employers not only expect a certificate or degree from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a renowned agency such as the American Welding Society (AWS). A variety of certifications are offered based upon the type of work that the welder does. Some 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 certain kinds of welds
- Perform in compliance with contract specifications
As previously mentioned, various states, cities or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those calling for licensing, some additionally require certification for different kinds of work. Certification is also a means to demonstrate to employers that you are an exceptionally skilled and experienced welder. So similarly as with licensing, check the requirements for your location and make certain that the welder trade school you select prepares you for certification if needed.
How to Decide on a Welding Technical School
Once you have chosen the credential you would like to attain, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can begin to assess schools. As you probably know, there are numerous welder trade and vocational schools in the Ashland AL area. That’s why it’s essential to determine in advance what qualifications your chosen school must have. We have previously discussed two significant ones that most people consider first, which are location and the cost of tuition. 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 choose is going to furnish the education that will be the foundation of your new vocation as a welder. So following are more factors you might want to consider before choosing a welder tech school.
Accreditation. It’s very important that the welder trade school you decide on is accredited by either a national or a regional organization. There are two standard kinds of accreditation. The school may receive Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a single program the school has, for instance Welding Technology. So confirm that the program you pick is accredited, not just the school alone. Also, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, for example the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). In addition to helping ensure that you obtain a quality education, the accreditation may also assist in securing financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not available in Ashland AL for schools that are not accredited. Also, for those states or local governments that require licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited as well.
Job Assistance and Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous welding degree or certificate programs are provided in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Various other schools will assist in placing you in a job or an apprenticeship after graduation. Ask if the schools you are looking at assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. The schools should have associations 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 utilize for placements. These programs can help students find employment and develop associations within the Ashland AL welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that enroll in an academic program and finish it. It’s essential that the welding program you pick has a high completion rate. A low rate may mean that the students who enrolled in the program were unhappy with the training, the instructors, or the facilities, and quit. 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 an excellent reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of Ashland AL contacts to assist students secure apprenticeships or employment after graduation.
Modern Facilities and Equipment. Once you have narrowed down your selection of welder programs to two or three possibilities, you should think out going to the campuses to evaluate their facilities. Make sure that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are modern. In particular, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be using in the field. If you are not sure what to look for, and are already in an apprenticeship program, consult with the master welder you are working under for guidance. Otherwise, ask a local Ashland AL welding contractor if they can give you a few pointers.
School Location. Although we already briefly discussed the significance of location, there are a few additional points that we should cover. You should remember that unless you can relocate, the welder school you pick must be within driving distance of your Ashland AL home. If you do opt to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides relocation costs there may 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, often their placements are within the school’s local community. So the location of the school should be in a region or state where you subsequently will want to work.
Small Classes. One-on-one training is essential for a manual trade such as welding. It’s possible to get overlooked in larger classes and not obtain much individualized instruction. Ask what the average class size is for the welder schools you are reviewing. Inquire if you can attend a few classes so that you can experience just how much individual attention the students are receiving. While there, speak with several of the students and get their opinions. Also, talk with a couple 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 trade while still working at their current job. Check to see that the class schedules for the schools you are looking at are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Ashland AL, make certain that the schools you are considering offer those options. If you can only attend part-time, verify that the school you pick offers part-time enrollment. Also, check to see what the policy is to make up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Will You Be Attending Welding School Near Ashland AL?
Perhaps you live in the Ashland 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.
Clay County was formed by an act of the Alabama General Assembly on December 7, 1866. Less than a year later, Ashland was established as the county seat on land donated by Hollingsworth Watts for the construction of a courthouse. Ashland was incorporated in 1871 and was named for 19th century statesman Henry Clay's Kentucky estate home.
During the early years, the town grew very rapidly. The town continued to grow with the opening of Alabama's first graphite mine in 1899. When World War I ended, the market for graphite dropped drastically, thus ending the town's growth phase.
The 1930s brought the Great Depression and boll weevil to Ashland that destroyed the cotton industry. Farmers were forced to abandon what had been the community's major industry. Timber, poultry, and cabinet making became the dominant industries by the beginning of the 21st century.
Online Welding Training
Welding is truly a manual type of trade, and for that reason not extremely compatible with training online. Even so, there are some online welding programs offered by specific community colleges and technical schools in the greater Ashland AL area that can count toward a degree or certificate program. These classes primarily deal with such topics as safety, reading blueprints, and metallurgy. They can help provide 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 work with welding materials until you actually do it. Naturally that can’t be accomplished online. These skills must be learned in an on-campus setting or in an apprenticeship. Online or distance learning is better suited for experienced welders that want to advance their knowledge or possibly obtain a more advanced degree. So if you should find an online welding certificate or degree program, be extremely cautious and verify that the bulk of the training is done on campus or in a workshop type of environment.
Choose the Best Welding Tech School Ashland AL
Picking the right welder school will probably be the most critical decision you will make to start your new career. As we have covered in this article, there are several factors that you will need to assess and compare between the schools you are looking at. It’s a prerequisite that any welding school that you are considering includes a good deal of hands-on instruction. Classes should be small in size and every student should have their personal welding machine to train with. Classroom teaching needs to provide a real-world perspective, and the training program should be current and conform with industry standards. Programs differ in length and the kind of credential offered, so you will have to determine what length of program and degree or certificate will best serve your needs. Every program offers unique options for certification also. Perhaps the best means to research your final list of schools is to visit each campus and talk with the teachers and students. Take the time to monitor some classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make certain 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 end result will be a new occupation as a professional welder in Ashland AL.