How to Select a Welder Certification Program near Bay Minette Alabama
Selecting the ideal welder school near Bay Minette AL is an important first step to launching your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are a lot of schools to choose from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more importantly, once you have narrowed down your choices, how do you select the best one? Most people start by reviewing the schools that are closest to their residences. When they have identified those that are within commuting distance, they gravitate toward the least costly 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 accreditation, reputation and job placement rates. So before beginning your search for a trade school to become a welder, it’s prudent to create 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 Certificate and Degree Training
There are several options 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 Technology or Welding Engineering, but are more advanced programs than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available combined with an apprenticeship program. Following are brief explanations of the most common welding programs offered in the Bay Minette 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, created largely to teach welding skills. They can furnish a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or additional skills for experienced welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take 2 years to complete and are usually offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology offers a more well-rounded education than the certificate or diploma while still supplying the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
A number of municipalities and states do have licensing prerequisites for welders, therefore make sure to check for your location of potential employment. As needed, the welder school you select should ready you for any licensing examinations that you will need to take in addition to furnishing the suitable training to become a qualified welder.
Welding Certification Choices
There are multiple organizations that offer welding certifications, which test the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Many Bay Minette AL employers not only expect a degree or certificate from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a highly regarded organization like 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 attest to are the welder’s ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specified metal thicknesses
- Work with certain types of welds
- Perform based on contract specifications
As earlier stated, various states, cities or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those calling for licensing, a number also require certification for various 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 location and confirm that the welder technical school you decide on preps you for certification if needed.
How to Decide on a Welder Trade Program
When you have chosen the credential you would like to earn, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can start to evaluate schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are a large number of welding trade and vocational schools in the Bay Minette AL area. That’s why it’s necessary to establish in advance what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have previously covered 2 important ones that most people look at first, which are location and tuition cost. As mentioned, although they are very important qualifications, they are not the only ones that should be looked at. After all, the program you select is going to provide the instruction that will be the foundation of your new vocation as a welder. So following are more factors you might want to evaluate before picking a welder technical school.
Accreditation. It’s very important that the welding technical school you decide on is accredited by either a regional or a national agency. There are two standard kinds of accreditation. The school may receive Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on an individual program the school offers, for instance Welding Technology. So confirm that the program you choose is accredited, not just the school itself. Additionally, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, such as the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping ensure that you obtain an excellent education, the accreditation can also assist in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not available in Bay Minette AL for non-accredited schools. Finally, for those states or municipalities that mandate licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited as well.
Job Placement and Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of welder degree or certificate programs are provided combined with an apprenticeship program. Some other schools will assist in placing you in a job or an apprenticeship upon graduation. Ask if the schools you are considering assist 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 more substantial network of graduates that they can rely upon for referrals. These programs can help students find employment and establish relationships within the Bay Minette AL welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that begin an instructional program and finish it. It’s important that the welder school you pick has a higher completion rate. A lower rate could indicate that the students who enrolled in the program were unhappy with the instruction, the instructors, or the facilities, and dropped out. The job placement rate is also an indication of the caliber of training. A high job placement rate will not only confirm that the school has a good reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of Bay Minette AL contacts to assist students secure apprenticeships or employment after graduation.
Up-to-date Equipment and Facilities. Once you have narrowed down your choice of welding programs to two or three options, you should consider going to the campuses to look over 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 working with in the field. If you are unsure 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 Bay Minette AL welding contractor if they can give you a few suggestions.
School Location. Although we already briefly discussed the importance of location, there are a few additional issues that we need to deal with. You should remember that unless you can relocate, the welding program you pick needs to be within driving distance of your Bay Minette AL home. If you do decide to attend an out-of-state school, apart from moving costs there could be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly the case for welder degree programs offered by community colleges. Also, if the school provides an apprenticeship or job placement program, more than likely their placements are within the school’s regional community. So the location of the school should be in a region or state where you ultimately will wish to work.
Smaller Classes. Personalized instruction is important for a manual trade such as welding. It’s easy to be lost in larger classes and not receive much individualized instruction. Ask what the usual class size is for the welder schools you are looking at. Ask if you can attend some classes so that you can experience how much personal attention the students are getting. While there, talk with several of the students and get their feedback. Also, chat with some of the instructors and find out what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they have earned.
Convenient Class Schedules. Some people learn a new trade while still employed at their current job. Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are considering are convenient enough to satisfy your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Bay Minette AL, make sure that the schools you are considering offer those options. If you can only attend part-time, confirm that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, check to see what the protocol is to make up classes if you you miss any due to work, sickness or family circumstances.
Will You Be Attending Welding School Near Bay Minette AL?
Perhaps you live in the Bay Minette 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.
Bay Minette, Alabama
In the first days of Baldwin County, the town of McIntosh Bluff (now in Mobile County, west of Baldwin County) on the Tombigbee River was the county seat. After being transferred to the town of Blakeley in 1810, the county seat was later moved to the city of Daphne in 1868. In 1900, by an act of the legislature of Alabama, the county seat was authorized for relocation to the city of Bay Minette; however, the city of Daphne resisted relocation. The citizens of Bay Minette moved the county records from Daphne in the middle of the night on October 11–12, 1901 and delivered them to the city of Bay Minette - where the Baldwin County seat remains to this day. A mural for the new post office built in 1937 was commissioned by the WPA and painted by Hilton Leech of Bridgeport, Connecticut, to commemorate this event.
In September 2011, the town attempted to enact a program called "Operation Restore Our Community". It would have allowed those convicted of a misdemeanor to substitute imprisonment with mandatory church attendance for one year. However, this program was challenged due to violating separation of church and state, and the program's start was delayed for judicial review. It appears to have been scrapped.
Bay Minette is located near the center of Baldwin County in southern Alabama at 30°53′0″N 87°46′38″W / 30.88333°N 87.77722°W / 30.88333; -87.77722 (30.883446, -87.777183). It is sited on high ground 5 miles (8 km) east of the Mobile River/Tensaw River valley and 6 miles (10 km) west of the Florida border formed by the Perdido River. U.S. Route 31 passes through the center of the city, leading south to Spanish Fort and northeast to Atmore. Interstate 65 passes about 5 miles (8 km) north of the city, with access from exit 34 (State Route 59) and exit 37 (State Route 287).
Online Welder Classes
Welding is very much a manual type of vocation, and for that reason not very compatible with online training. However, there are some online welding courses offered by various community colleges and trade schools in the greater Bay Minette AL area that can be credited toward a degree or certificate program. These classes primarily cover such topics as reading blueprints, safety,, and metallurgy. They can help provide a beginner a basis to initiate their education and training. However, the most critical point is that you can’t learn how to weld or use welding materials until you actually do it. Naturally 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 experienced welders that want to advance their knowledge or possibly attain a more advanced degree. So if you should find an online welding degree or certificate program, be very careful and verify that the larger part of the training is done on campus or in a workshop type of setting.
Find the Best Welding Trade School Bay Minette AL
Picking 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 a number of factors that you will need to assess and compare between the schools you are looking at. It’s a necessity that any welder school that you are evaluating includes a good deal of hands-on training. Classes should be small in size and each student should have their personal welding machine to train on. Classroom education needs to provide a real-world context, and the training program should be current and conform with industry standards. Courses differ in length and the kind of credential offered, so you will need to decide what length of program and credential will best fulfill your needs. Every training program offers different possibilities for certification also. Perhaps The ideal approach to research your final list of schools is to go to each campus and speak with the students and faculty. Invest some time to attend some classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the training program you pick is the ideal one for you. With the proper training, effort and commitment, the end outcome will be a new career as a professional welder in Bay Minette AL.
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