How to Find the Right Welding Certification Program near Madison Alabama
Selecting the right welding trade school near Madison AL is an essential first step to beginning your new career as a professional welder. But since there are so many schools to choose from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more importantly, once you have fine tuned your choices, how do you pick the right one? Most prospective students start by looking at the schools that are nearest to their homes. Once they have identified those that are within commuting distance, they gravitate toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are important considerations when reviewing welding technical schools, but they are not the only ones. Other concerns 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 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.
Welding Certificate and Degree Training
There are a number of options to obtain training as a welder in a trade or vocational 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 offered combined with an apprenticeship program. Following are brief summaries of the most typical welding programs available in the Madison AL.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are normally made available by trade and technical schools and require about a year to complete. They are more hands-on training in scope, created primarily to develop welding skills. They can furnish a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or supplemental skills for experienced welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take two years to complete and are most often offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology furnishes 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 states and municipalities do have licensing requirements for welders, so be sure to check for your location of future employment. If required, the welding school you pick should prepare you for any licensing exams 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 organizations that provide welding certifications, which assess the knowledge and skill level of those applying. Numerous Madison AL employers not only expect a certificate or degree from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a respected agency such as the American Welding Society (AWS). Different certifications are available based on the type of work that the welder does. Just some of the skills that certification can attest to are the welder’s ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with certain metal thicknesses
- Work with specific kinds of welds
- Work in compliance with contract specifications
As previously mentioned, some states, cities or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those requiring licensing, a number also require certification for different kinds of work. Certification is also a means to prove to employers that you are an exceptionally skilled and qualified welder. So just as with licensing, check the requirements for your location and make certain that the welder technical school you select readies you for certification if needed.
How to Decide on a Welder Tech School
When you have chosen the credential you would like to earn, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can begin to compare schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are numerous welder trade and vocational schools in the Madison AL area. That’s why it’s essential to establish in advance what qualifications your chosen school must have. We have already covered 2 important ones that most people look at first, which are location and tuition cost. As mentioned, although they are essential qualifiers, they are not the only ones that must be looked at. After all, the program you select is going to provide the education that will be the foundation of your new career as a welder. So following are some additional factors you may want to evaluate before selecting a welding trade school.
Accreditation. It’s essential that the welding technical school you choose is accredited by either a regional or a national agency. There are 2 basic kinds of accreditation. The school may attain Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a specific program the school offers, for example Welding Technology. So verify that the program you choose is accredited, not just the school alone. Also, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, such as the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). In addition to helping ensure that you receive an excellent education, the accreditation can also assist in getting financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases not offered in Madison AL for schools that are not accredited. Also, for those states or municipalities that mandate licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited also.
Apprenticeship and Job Assistance Programs. A large number of welding certificate or degree programs are provided combined with an apprenticeship program. Other schools will assist in placing you in an apprenticeship or a job upon graduation. Find out if the schools you are considering assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. These schools should 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 utilize for placements. These programs can help students find employment and establish relationships within the Madison AL welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that begin an educational program and complete it. It’s important that the welder school you choose has a high completion rate. A lower rate might mean that the students who joined 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 verify that the school has an excellent reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of Madison AL employer relationships to help students obtain apprenticeships or employment upon graduation.
Modern Equipment and Facilities. Once you have narrowed down your choice of welder programs to two or three options, you should consider visiting the campuses to inspect their facilities. Verify that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are modern. Specifically, the training equipment should be comparable to what you will be working with on the job. If you are not sure what to look for, and are already in an apprenticeship program, ask the master welder you are working under for guidance. If not, ask a local Madison AL welding contractor if they can give you some suggestions.
School Location. Although we previously briefly discussed the relevance of location, there are a couple of additional points that we need to address. You should remember that unless you are able to move, the welding program you pick must be within commuting distance of your Madison AL home. If you do opt to attend an out-of-state school, besides moving costs there could be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially true for welding certificate programs offered by community colleges. Furthermore, if the school offers an apprenticeship or job placement program, most likely their placements are within the school’s local community. So the location of the school needs to be in an area or state where you ultimately will desire to work.
Small Classes. Individualized instruction is important for a hands-on trade such as welding. It’s possible to get lost in bigger classes and not receive much personalized instruction. Find out what the usual class size is for the welding programs you are looking at. Ask if you can sit in on a few classes so that you can witness just how much personal attention the students are receiving. While there, speak with some of the students and get their evaluations. Also, talk to a few of the instructors and ask what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they have earned.
Flexible Class Schedules. Many people learn a new trade while still working at their present job. Check to see that the class schedules for the programs you are considering are flexible enough to satisfy your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Madison AL, verify that the schools you are reviewing offer those options. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask 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 Madison AL?
Perhaps you live in the Madison 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.
Madison is a city located primarily in Madison County, near the northern border of the State of Alabama. Madison extends west into neighboring Limestone County. The city is included in the Huntsville Metropolitan Area, the second-largest in the state, and is also included in the merged Huntsville-Decatur Combined Statistical Area. As of the 2010 census, the population of the city was 42,938. Madison is bordered by Huntsville on all sides.
Madison's first European-American resident was John Cartwright, who settled in the area in 1818. The city was originally known as Madison Station, and it developed in the 1850s around a stop of the Memphis & Charleston Railroad. Textile mills were built in the area in the late 19th century for processing of cotton.
Madison was the site of a battle in the American Civil War. On May 17, 1864, Col. Josiah Patterson's 5th Alabama Cavalry, supported by Col. James H. Stuart's cavalry battalion and a section of horse artillery, drove Col. Adam G. Gorgas's 13th Illinois Infantry Regiment from the city. Patterson's men captured the 13th Illinois Regiment's wagon train, taking 66 prisoners. They also burned Union supplies and tore up the railroad tracks before retreating. Portions of the 5th Ohio Cavalry, the 59th Indiana Infantry and the 5th Iowa Infantry were sent in pursuit from Huntsville. They skirmished with Patterson's rear guard that evening at Fletcher's Ferry on the Tennessee River south of Madison.
Online Welding Training Programs
Welding is truly a hands-on kind of trade, and consequently not very suitable for online training. Even so, there are some online welding courses offered by specific community colleges and trade schools in the greater Madison AL area that can be credited toward a certificate or degree program. These classes mainly deal with such subjects 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 unless you actually do it. Naturally that can’t be accomplished 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 expertise or perhaps obtain a more advanced degree. So if you should discover an online welding certificate or degree program, be very careful and confirm that the larger part of the training is done on campus or in a workshop type of environment.
Pick the Best Welding Vocational School Madison AL
Picking the ideal 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 factors that you will need to evaluate and compare among the programs you are reviewing. It’s a must that any welder training program that you are evaluating 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 with. Classroom teaching should offer a real-world context, and the training program should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Training 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. Every program provides unique possibilities for certification also. Perhaps the best way to research your short list of schools is to visit each campus and talk with the faculty and students. Invest some time to attend some classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the training program you choose is the best one for you. With the proper training, effort and commitment, the end outcome will be a new occupation as a professional welder in Madison AL.