How to Choose a Welder Technical School near Muscle Shoals Alabama
Selecting the right welder vocational school near Muscle Shoals AL is an essential first step to beginning your new career as a professional welder. But since there are numerous schools to pick from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more notably, once you have fine tuned your choices, how do you pick the right one? A number of people begin by reviewing the schools that are closest to their homes. Once they have located those that are within commuting distance, they are drawn toward the least costly one. Yes, location and tuition cost are crucial considerations when reviewing welding technical schools, but they are not the only ones. Other concerns include such things as accreditation, reputation and job placement rates. So before starting your search for a trade school to become a welder, it’s prudent to develop a list of qualifications that your chosen school must have. But before we examine our due diligence checklist, let’s cover a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welding Certificate and Degree Training Programs
There are multiple alternatives available to obtain training as a welder in a technical or trade school. You can obtain a a certificate, a diploma or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are available in Welding Engineering or Welding Technology, but are more advanced programs than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Following are brief descriptions of the most prevalent welding programs offered in the Muscle Shoals AL.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are usually made available by trade and technical schools and take about 1 year to complete. They are more hands-on training in scope, designed largely to develop welding skills. They can furnish 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 usually 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.
A number of states and municipalities do have licensing prerequisites for welders, therefore be sure to find out for your location of future employment. If required, the welder school you select should prepare you for any licensing exams that you will need to take in addition to furnishing the suitable training to become a qualified welder.
Welder Certification Alternatives
There are several organizations that provide welder certifications, which evaluate the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Numerous Muscle Shoals AL employers not only require a certificate or degree from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a respected agency such as the American Welding Society (AWS). A variety of certifications are available based on the kind of work that the welder does. A few of the skills that certification can attest to are the welder’s ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specific metal thicknesses
- Work with various types of welds
- Work according to contract specifications
As formerly mentioned, some states, cities or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those mandating licensing, a number also require certification for various kinds of work. Certification is also a way to demonstrate to employers that you are an exceptionally skilled and qualified welder. So just as with licensing, check the requirements for your local area and make certain that the welding tech school you choose preps you for certification if needed.
How to Pick a Welder Trade Program
After you have decided on the credential you want to obtain, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can begin to compare schools. As you probably know, there are many welding trade and technical schools in the Muscle Shoals AL area. That’s why it’s important to determine up front what qualifications your selected school must have. We have already discussed 2 significant ones that most people consider first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As mentioned, although they are very important qualifications, they are not the only ones that should be looked at. After all, the program you pick is going to provide the instruction that will be the foundation of your new profession as a welder. So below are more factors you might want to evaluate before choosing a welder technical school.
Accreditation. It’s very important that the welder trade school you select is accredited by either a regional or a national agency. There are two basic types of accreditation. The school may attain Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a specific program the school has, such as Welding Technology. So make certain that the program you pick is accredited, not just the school itself. 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). In addition to helping ensure that you receive an excellent education, the accreditation might also assist in getting financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not available in Muscle Shoals AL for non-accredited schools. Finally, for those states or municipalities that mandate licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited also.
Apprenticeship and Job Assistance Programs. A large number of welder diploma or degree programs are provided combined with an apprenticeship program. Various other schools will help place you in an apprenticeship or a job upon graduation. Ask if the schools you are looking at help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. The schools must have associations with local unions and other metal working businesses to which they can refer their students. Older schools may have a larger network of graduates that they can utilize for referrals. These programs can assist students in finding employment and develop relationships within the Muscle Shoals AL welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that begin an instructional program and finish it. It’s essential that the welder school you choose has a higher completion rate. A lower rate could mean that the students who were in the program were dissatisfied with the training, the teachers, or the facilities, and quit. The job placement rate is also a good indicator of the quality of training. A higher job placement rate will not only confirm that the program has an excellent reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of Muscle Shoals AL contacts to help students secure employment or apprenticeships upon graduation.
Modern Equipment and Facilities. After you have decreased your choice of welding programs to 2 or 3 options, you should think out visiting the campuses to evaluate their facilities. Confirm that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be instructed on are modern. In particular, the training equipment should be comparable 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. If not, ask a local Muscle Shoals AL welding professional if they can give you some suggestions.
School Location. Even though we already briefly covered the significance of location, there are a couple of additional issues that we need to address. You should keep in mind that unless you are able to relocate, the welding school you select must be within commuting distance of your Muscle Shoals AL home. If you do choose to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there might be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially the case for welding diploma programs offered by community colleges. Additionally, if the school offers a job placement or apprenticeship program, more than likely their placements are within the school’s regional community. So the location of the school needs to be in an area or state where you ultimately will wish to work.
Smaller Classes. One-on-one instruction is essential for a manual trade such as welding. It’s easy to be overlooked in bigger classes and not get much personalized instruction. Ask what the average class size is for the welding schools you are considering. Inquire if you can attend a few classes so that you can see how much personal attention the students are receiving. While there, talk with some of the students and get their evaluations. Similarly, chat with a couple of the instructors and ask what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they hold.
Flexible Class Scheduling. Lots of folks learn a new trade while still working at their present job. Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are convenient enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Muscle Shoals AL, confirm that the schools you are looking at provide those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the protocol is to make up classes if you you miss any because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Will You Be Attending Welding School Near Muscle Shoals AL?
Perhaps you live in the Muscle Shoals 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.
Muscle Shoals, Alabama
Both the city and the Florence-Muscle Shoals Metropolitan Area (including four cities in Colbert and Lauderdale counties) are commonly called "the Shoals".Northwest Alabama Regional Airport serves the Shoals region, located in the northwest section of the state.
Since the 1960s, the city has been known for music – developing the "Muscle Shoals Sound", as local recording studios (including FAME Studios in the late 1950s and Muscle Shoals Sound Studio in 1969) produced hit records that shaped the history of popular music.
Due to its strategic location along the Tennessee River, Muscle Shoals played a key role in historic land disputes between Native Americans and Anglo-American settlers in the late 18th century and early 19th century.
Online Welding Certificate and Degree Programs
Welding is truly a hands-on kind of trade, and consequently not extremely suitable for online training. However, there are a few online welding classes offered by various community colleges and vocational schools in the greater Muscle Shoals AL area that can count toward a degree or certificate program. These courses mainly deal with such topics as safety, reading blueprints, and metallurgy. They can help give a beginner a foundation to begin their training and education. However, the most important point is that you can’t learn how to weld or work with welding materials until you actually do it. Clearly that can’t be done online. These skills have to be learned in an on-campus setting or in an apprenticeship. Online or distance learning is better suited for seasoned welders that would like to advance their knowledge or possibly attain a more advanced degree. So if you should discover an online welding degree or certificate program, be very careful and make sure that the larger part of the training is done on campus or in a workshop type of setting.
Choose the Ideal Welding Trade Program Muscle Shoals AL
Selecting the right welder school will undoubtedly be the most important decision you will make to start your new career. As we have addressed in this article, there are several factors that you will need to evaluate and compare among the programs you are reviewing. It’s a prerequisite that any welding training that you are assessing includes a considerable amount of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be smaller in size and each student should have their personal welding machine to train with. Classroom teaching should provide a real-world frame of reference, and the curriculum should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Training programs differ in duration and the type of credential offered, so you will need to ascertain what length of program and certificate or degree will best serve your needs. Every program provides different possibilities for certification also. Perhaps The ideal means to research your short list of schools is to check out each campus and talk with the students and faculty. Invest some time to sit in on a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the school you choose is the right one for you. With the proper training, hard work and dedication, the end outcome will be a new trade as a professional welder in Muscle Shoals AL.