How to Select a Welder Training Class near Fultondale Alabama
Choosing the right welding technical school near Fultondale AL is an important first step to beginning your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are a lot of schools to select from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more importantly, once you have narrowed down your choices, how do you select the right one? Most prospective students start by looking at the schools that are closest to their homes. When they have located those that are within commuting distance, they are drawn toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are necessary considerations 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 initiating your search for a vocational school to become a welder, it’s prudent to develop 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.
Welding Degree and Certificate Training Classes
There are several options available to get training as a welder in a technical or trade school. You can earn a a certificate, a diploma or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are available in Welding Technology or Welding Engineering, but are more advanced programs than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Below are brief descriptions of the most prevalent welding programs available in the Fultondale AL.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are usually offered by technical and trade schools and take about a year to finish. They are more hands-on training in scope, fashioned mainly to teach welding skills. They can provide a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or additional 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 well-rounded education than the diploma or certificate while still furnishing the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
Some municipalities and states do have licensing prerequisites for welders, so don’t forget to check for your location of future employment. As needed, the welder school you choose should prep you for any licensing examinations that you will have to take in addition to furnishing the suitable training to become a professional welder.
Welding Certification Alternatives
There are a number of institutions that offer welding certifications, which test the knowledge and skill level of those applying. Many Fultondale AL employers not only demand a degree or certificate from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a highly regarded organization such as the American Welding Society (AWS). Different certifications are available dependent on the kind of work that the welder performs. 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 specific kinds of welds
- Perform in compliance with contract specifications
As already mentioned, many cities, states or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those mandating licensing, a number additionally require certification for various types of work. Certification is also a way to prove to employers that you are an exceptionally skilled and experienced welder. So similarly as with licensing, look into the requirements for your local area and confirm that the welding tech school you choose readies you for certification if needed.
How to Choose a Welding Trade Program
After you have decided on the credential you would like to earn, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can start to assess schools. As you can imagine, there are numerous welding trade and vocational schools in the Fultondale AL area. That’s why it’s necessary to determine up front what qualifications your selected school must have. We have already covered a couple of important ones that most people consider first, which are location and tuition cost. As mentioned, although they are essential qualifications, they are not the only ones that need to be looked at. After all, the school you pick is going to furnish the education that will be the foundation of your new profession as a welder. So following are some additional factors you may need to evaluate before picking a welder technical school.
Accreditation. It’s essential that the welding tech school you decide on is accredited by either a regional or a national agency. There are two basic types 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 example 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). In addition to helping ensure that you get an excellent education, the accreditation can also help in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases not available in Fultondale 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 also.
Apprenticeship and Job Placement Programs. Numerous welding degree or diploma programs are provided combined with an apprenticeship program. Other schools will assist in placing you in a job or an apprenticeship after graduation. Ask if the schools you are reviewing help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. These schools must have relationships with local unions and other metal working businesses to which they can place their students. More established schools may have a larger network of graduates that they can utilize for placements. These programs can help students find employment and establish associations within the Fultondale AL welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that start an educational program and finish it. It’s essential that the welder school you choose has a high completion rate. A low rate might indicate that the students who joined the program were unhappy with the training, the instructors, or the facilities, and quit. The job placement rate is also a good indicator of the quality of training. A high job placement rate will not only confirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of Fultondale AL contacts to help students obtain apprenticeships or employment upon graduation.
Modern Equipment and Facilities. Once you have decreased your selection of welding programs to two or three options, you should consider visiting the campuses to look over their facilities. Verify that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be instructed on are up-to-date. Specifically, 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 Fultondale AL welding contractor if they can give you a few pointers.
School Location. Although we already briefly covered the significance of location, there are a couple of additional issues that we should address. You should bear in mind that unless you are able to move, the welding program you choose must be within commuting distance of your Fultondale 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 especially the case for welder certificate programs offered by community colleges. Additionally, if the school provides an apprenticeship or job placement program, most likely 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 wish to work.
Smaller Classes. Individualized instruction is essential for a manual trade such as welding. It’s easy to get overlooked in bigger classes and not obtain much personalized instruction. Find out what the typical class size is for the welder programs you are looking at. Inquire if you can attend a couple of classes so that you can witness how much personal attention the students are receiving. While there, talk with some of the students and get their evaluations. Similarly, talk to a few of the trainers and find out what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they hold.
Convenient Class Scheduling. Lots of folks learn a new trade while still employed at their current job. Check to see that the class schedules for the programs you are considering are convenient enough to meet your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Fultondale AL, verify that the schools you are assessing provide those alternatives. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, verify that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the policy is to make up classes if you you miss any due to work, sickness or family circumstances.
Will You Be Attending Welding School Near Fultondale AL?
Perhaps you live in the Fultondale 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.
This area was once known as Fulton Springs. Prior to the building of Interstate 65, US 31 was the main route for travelers northbound from Birmingham towards Nashville, Tennessee. As a result, hotels such as the Keystone Lodge and Buchmann Motor Inn prospered. On the city's southern edge was located one of the few drive-in theatres in the Birmingham area (the "Skyview"). This was torn down when I-65 was built in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The Pine Bowl bowling alley is still a long time fixture in the city.Traces of the old routing of US 31 are still noticeable in the city. From just south of the city hall to an old bridge on this city's northern side, most of this old routing is known as Stouts Road or in some cases simply "old US 31."
Fultondale was a relatively stagnant community until the last decade. Growth has occurred in residential areas mainly west of Interstate 65, while retail development has focused along and near the I-65/Walkers Chapel Road exit.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 12.2 square miles (32 km2), all land. Fultondale is located along one of the many ridgelines that comprise the southern end of the Appalachian Mountain chain. The area has been thoroughly mined for coal and other minerals in the past 100 years. The city is served by two major north/south highways, Interstate 65 and US Highway 31. The new Interstate 22 encroaches on the city's western edge and on June 20, 2016, the interchange with I-65 just south of Fultondale opened. I-22 will provide direct interstate access to Memphis, Tennessee. Upon completion of Interstate 22, Fultondale will become the fourth Alabama city (after Birmingham, Montgomery, and Mobile) to be directly served by more than one two-digit interstate highway (I-65 & I-22). The only east/west thoroughfare of note is Walkers Chapel Road (west of US 31) and New Castle Road (east of US 31). Rail lines run north/south along the city's eastern edge from Boyles Yard in Tarrant to points north and east. Air travel is available from nearby Birmingham International Airport.
Online Welder Training Programs
Welding is truly a hands-on kind of trade, and for that reason not very compatible with training online. Even so, there are some online welding programs offered by various community colleges and technical schools in the greater Fultondale AL area that can be credited toward a degree or certificate program. These classes primarily deal with such topics as safety, reading blueprints, and metallurgy. They can help give a novice a basis to start their training and education. 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 done online. These skills have to be learned in an on-campus environment or in an apprenticeship. Online or distance learning is more appropriate for seasoned welders that desire to advance their knowledge or possibly attain a more advanced degree. So if you should find an online welding certificate or degree program, be very cautious and make sure that the majority of the training is done on campus or in a workshop type of environment.
Choose the Ideal Welding Trade Program Fultondale AL
Picking the right welding 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 several things that you will need to examine and compare among the programs you are looking at. It’s a prerequisite that any welding training that you are considering includes a good deal of hands-on instruction. Classes should be smaller in size and every student must have their own welding machine to train on. Classroom education should offer a real-world perspective, and the curriculum should be current and in-line with industry standards. Training programs differ in length and the type of credential offered, so you will have to determine what length of program and degree or certificate will best serve your needs. Every program provides different options for certification as well. Perhaps The ideal way to research your short list of schools is to go to each campus and talk with the students and faculty. Take the time to monitor a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the school you pick is the best one for you. With the right training, effort and dedication, the final outcome will be a new career as a professional welder in Fultondale AL.