How to Pick a Welder Technical School near Bessemer Alabama
Finding the ideal welder technical school near Bessemer AL is an essential first step to starting your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are numerous schools to select from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more significantly, once you have narrowed down your choices, how do you select the best one? Many prospective students begin by checking out the schools that are nearest to their residences. When they have located those that are within commuting distance, they are drawn toward the least costly one. Yes, location and tuition cost are crucial concerns when examining welder technical schools, but they are not the only ones. Other considerations include such things as reputation, accreditation and job placement rates. So before beginning your search for a vocational school to become a welder, it’s prudent to create a list of qualifications that your chosen school must have. But before we explore our due diligence checklist, let’s talk a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welding Certificate and Degree Training Classes
There are several options available to obtain training as a welder in a trade or technical school. You can earn a a certificate, a diploma or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are offered in Welding Technology or Welding Engineering, but are more advanced degrees than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available along with an apprenticeship program. Following are brief descriptions of the most common welding programs available in the Bessemer AL.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are generally offered by trade and technical schools and take about one year to complete. They are more hands-on training in scope, designed largely to teach welding skills. They can furnish a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or supplemental 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 offers a more extensive education than the certificate or diploma while still providing the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
Some states and municipalities do have licensing requirements for welders, therefore be sure to find out for your location of potential employment. If needed, the welding school you pick should prep you for any licensing examinations that you will have to take in addition to furnishing the appropriate training to become a qualified welder.
Welding Certification Choices
There are several organizations that offer welding certifications, which test the skill level and knowledge of those applying. A large number of Bessemer AL employers not only expect a certificate or degree from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a renowned agency like the American Welding Society (AWS). Different certifications are offered based on the kind of work that the welder performs. Some of the things that certification can acknowledge are the welder’s ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with certain metal thicknesses
- Work with various types of welds
- Perform based on contract specifications
As earlier stated, many states, cities or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those requiring licensing, some also require certification for different kinds of work. Certification is also a means to demonstrate to employers that you are a highly skilled and knowledgeable welder. So just as with licensing, look into the requirements for your local area and make sure that the welding tech school you choose preps you for certification if needed.
How to Select a Welding Vocational School
As soon as you have chosen the credential you want to earn, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can begin to compare schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are a large number of welding trade and vocational schools in the Bessemer AL area. That’s why it’s essential to determine up front what qualifications your chosen school must have. We have previously covered two significant ones that many people look at first, which are location and tuition cost. As stated, although they are essential qualifiers, they are not the only ones that should be considered. After all, the program you select is going to furnish the instruction that will be the foundation of your new vocation as a welder. So below are more factors you may want to evaluate before picking a welding tech school.
Accreditation. It’s extremely important that the welder trade school you select is accredited by either a national or a regional 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 a specific program the school offers, such as Welding Technology. So make certain that the program you select is accredited, not just the school alone. Additionally, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, for example the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping ensure that you receive a quality education, the accreditation can also assist in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently not available in Bessemer AL for schools that are not accredited. Finally, for those states or municipalities that mandate licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited as well.
Apprenticeship and Job Assistance Programs. A large number of welding degree or diploma programs are offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Various other schools will assist in placing 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 relationships with local unions and various metal working businesses to which they can refer their students. More established schools may have a larger network of graduates that they can rely upon for referrals. These programs can help students find employment and establish associations within the Bessemer AL welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that start an educational program and complete it. It’s crucial that the welding program you select has a higher completion rate. A lower rate could signify that the students who enrolled in the program were dissatisfied with the training, the instructors, or the facilities, and dropped out. The job placement rate is also an indication of the caliber of training. A higher job placement rate will not only confirm that the program has a good reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of Bessemer AL employer relationships to assist students obtain apprenticeships or employment after graduation.
Modern Equipment and Facilities. After you have narrowed down your choice of welding programs to 2 or 3 possibilities, you should think out going to the campuses to inspect their facilities. Verify that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be taught on are up-to-date. Specifically, 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 currently in an apprenticeship program, ask the master welder you are working under for guidance. Otherwise, ask a local Bessemer AL welding contractor if they can give you some tips.
School Location. Even though we already briefly talked about the relevance of location, there are a couple of additional issues that we need to deal with. You should remember that unless you have the ability to relocate, the welder school you pick needs to be within commuting distance of your Bessemer AL 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 especially 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 should be in an area or state where you subsequently will desire to work.
Smaller Classes. One-on-one instruction is essential for a manual trade such as welding. It’s easy to get overlooked in larger classes and not obtain much one-on-one training. Ask what the average class size is for the welding programs you are considering. Ask if you can sit in on a couple of classes so that you can witness just how much individual attention the students are getting. While there, talk with a few of the students and get their evaluations. Similarly, chat with a few of the trainers and ask what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they have earned.
Convenient Class Schedules. Lots of folks learn a new trade while still working at their current job. Confirm that the class schedules for the schools you are reviewing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Bessemer AL, make sure that the schools you are considering offer those alternatives. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you pick offers part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the policy is to make up classes should you miss any due to illness, work or family circumstances.
Will You Be Attending Welding School Near Bessemer AL?
Perhaps you live in the Bessemer 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.
Bessemer is a city southwest of Birmingham in Jefferson County, Alabama, United States. The population was 27,456 at the 2010 Census. It is within the Birmingham-Hoover, AL Metropolitan Statistical Area, of which Jefferson County is the center. It developed rapidly as an industrial city in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
The town was founded in the postbellum era by the Bessemer Land and Improvement Company, named after Henry Bessemer and owned by coal magnate Henry F. DeBardeleben. He had inherited Daniel Pratt's investments. The mayor and councilmen voted to incorporate the city of Bessemer on September 9, 1887. Located 16 miles southwest of Birmingham, Bessemer grew rapidly and its promoters believed that it might overtake the other city in economic power.
Given the iron ore, coal and limestone deposits in the area, the city became a center of steelmaking from about 1890 through the 20th century. It attracted rural migrants from across the South, as well as European immigrants. By the 1950s, the city was majority African American in population.
Online Welding Degree and Certificate Programs
Welding is truly a hands-on type of vocation, and for that reason not extremely suitable for training online. Even so, there are a small number of online welding courses offered by certain community colleges and technical schools in the greater Bessemer AL area that can be credited toward a degree or certificate program. These classes primarily deal with such subjects as safety, reading blueprints, and metallurgy. They can help provide a beginner a foundation to start their training and education. Nevertheless, the most critical point is that you can’t learn how to weld or handle welding materials unless 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 seasoned welders that would like to advance their expertise or perhaps earn a more advanced degree. So if you should discover an online welding certificate or degree program, be very cautious and confirm that the bulk of the training is done on campus or in a workshop type of setting.
Find the Best Welding Technical Program Bessemer AL
Selecting the best welder school will probably be the most important decision you will make to begin your new trade. As we have covered in this article, there are a number of factors that you will need to evaluate and compare among the schools you are considering. It’s a must that any welding school that you are reviewing includes a good deal of hands-on instruction. 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 course of study should be current and in-line with industry standards. Courses differ in duration and the type of credential provided, so you will need to determine what length of program and certificate or degree will best satisfy your needs. Every training program offers unique possibilities for certification also. Probably The ideal way to research your final list of schools is to visit each campus and speak with the students and faculty. Take the time to sit in on a few classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the school you choose is the best one for you. With the right training, hard work and dedication, the final outcome will be a new occupation as a professional welder in Bessemer AL.