How to Select a Welder Technical School near Belle Mina Alabama
Enrolling in the right welding school near Belle Mina AL is an important first step to beginning your new career as a professional welder. But since there are so many schools to select from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more notably, once you have fine tuned your choices, how do you select the best one? Most people start by checking out the schools that are closest to their residences. Once they have identified those that are within driving distance, they are drawn toward the least costly one. Yes, location and tuition cost are necessary concerns when examining welding technical schools, but they are not the only ones. Other factors include such things as accreditation, reputation and job placement rates. So before initiating your search for a vocational school to become a welder, it’s wise to create 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 Courses
There are a number of options to get training as a welder in a trade or technical school. You can earn a diploma, a certificate or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are available in Welding Technology or Welding Engineering, but are more advanced degrees than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also offered along with an apprenticeship program. Below are short descriptions of the most prevalent welding programs offered in the Belle Mina AL.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are generally made available by technical and trade schools and require about a year to finish. They are more hands-on training in scope, created mainly to teach welding skills. They can furnish a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or additional skills for working welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take 2 years to complete and are usually offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology furnishes a more well-rounded education than the certificate or diploma while still supplying the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
Many states and municipalities do have licensing requirements for welders, therefore make sure to check for your location of potential employment. If required, the welding school you pick should prep you for any licensing examinations that you will need to take in addition to furnishing the suitable training to become a qualified welder.
Welder Certification Choices
There are various organizations that provide welder certifications, which test the skill level and knowledge of those applying. A large number of Belle Mina AL employers not only expect a degree or certificate from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a highly regarded agency such as the American Welding Society (AWS). Different certifications are available dependent on the type of work that the welder does. A few 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 types of welds
- Operate according to contract specifications
As already mentioned, many states, cities or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those requiring licensing, some additionally require certification for different kinds of work. Certification is also a means to demonstrate to employers that you are an exceptionally skilled and knowledgeable welder. So similarly as with licensing, check the requirements for your location and verify that the welding technical school you decide on readies you for certification if needed.
What to Ask Welder Trade Schools
Once you have chosen the credential you want to obtain, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can start to assess schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are a large number of welding trade and vocational schools in the Belle Mina AL area. That’s why it’s necessary to determine in advance what qualifications your selected school must have. We have already covered a couple of important ones that many people consider first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As stated, although they are essential qualifications, they are not the only ones that should be looked at. After all, the school you select 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 might need to consider before choosing a welder tech school.
Accreditation. It’s extremely important that the welder technical school you pick is accredited by either a national or a regional agency. There are two standard kinds of accreditation. The school may attain Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on an individual program the school offers, such as Welding Technology. So make sure that the program you choose is accredited, not just the school alone. Also, 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). In addition to helping ensure that you obtain a quality education, the accreditation can also help in getting financial assistance or student loans, which are often unavailable in Belle Mina 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. Many welder degree or certificate programs are provided combined with an apprenticeship program. Various other schools will assist in placing you in a job or an apprenticeship upon graduation. Find out if the schools you are reviewing help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. The schools must have partnerships 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 relationships within the Belle Mina 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 crucial that the welding program you pick has a high completion rate. A reduced rate may signify 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 an indication of the caliber of training. A high job placement rate will not only affirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of Belle Mina AL contacts to assist students obtain employment or apprenticeships upon graduation.
Up-to-date Equipment and Facilities. Once you have decreased your selection of welding programs to 2 or 3 options, you should think out going to the campuses to look over their facilities. Make sure that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be trained on are up-to-date. Specifically, 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 currently in an apprenticeship program, consult with the master welder you are working under for guidance. Otherwise, ask a local Belle Mina AL welding contractor if they can give you some pointers.
School Location. Even though we already briefly discussed the importance 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 welder program you pick must be within driving distance of your Belle Mina AL home. If you do decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there might be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly true for welder 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 regional community. So the location of the school needs to be in an area or state where you subsequently will wish to work.
Smaller Classes. Personalized 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. Ask what the average class size is for the welding schools you are reviewing. Ask if you can sit in on a few classes so that you can observe just how much personal attention the students are getting. While there, talk with several of the students and get their opinions. Similarly, talk with a couple of the trainers and ask what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they have earned.
Convenient Class Scheduling. Some people learn a new profession while still working at their current job. Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Belle Mina AL, make sure that the schools you are looking at provide those options. If you can only enroll part-time, confirm that the school you choose offers part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the protocol is to make up classes if you you miss any because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Enrolling in a Welding School Near Belle Mina AL?
Perhaps you live in the Belle Mina 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.
Belle Mina, known as Belmina during the 19th century, is a historic plantation and plantation house in Belle Mina, Alabama, United States. Completed in 1826, the Late Georgian-style house was built for Alabama's second governor, Thomas Bibb.
Originally located at the center of a 2,500-acre (10 km2) plantation complex, the red brick main house is one of the earliest Alabama examples of a stereotypical columned plantation house. The house and surrounding 9 acres (3.6 ha) were added to the National Register of Historic Places on October 31, 1972.
Prior to the construction of the main house, Bibb had to have a sawmill and a brick kiln built. As the area was still being converted from a frontier, there was no sawed lumber or ready-made brick available. Bibb obtained skilled slave artisans to produce the construction materials and build the house. It took him several years to find a highly skilled slave mason and an expert carpenter. The house was basically complete by 1826, although work on various buildings of the plantation complex continued up to 1835.
Online Welding Certificate and Degree Programs
Welding is truly a hands-on type of vocation, and for that reason not very compatible with online training. However, there are a small number of online welding programs offered by various community colleges and technical schools in the greater Belle Mina AL area that can be credited toward a degree or certificate program. These classes primarily cover such subjects as safety, reading blueprints, and metallurgy. They can help give a beginner a foundation to start their education and training. Nevertheless, the most important point is that you can’t learn how to weld or work with welding materials unless you actually do it. Obviously that can’t be performed online. These skills need to be learned in an on-campus environment or in an apprenticeship. Online or distance learning is better suited for seasoned welders that want to advance their knowledge or perhaps obtain a more advanced degree. So if you should come across an online welding degree or certificate program, be extremely cautious and confirm that the larger part of the training is done on campus or in a workshop type of environment.
Choose the Right Welding Vocational School Belle Mina AL
Selecting the ideal welding training program will probably be the most important decision you will make to launch your new profession. As we have covered in this article, there are a number of things that you will need to examine and compare among the programs you are looking at. It’s a must that any welder school that you are evaluating includes a considerable amount of hands-on instruction. Classes should be small in size and every student must have their own welding machine to train on. Classroom education needs to offer a real-world frame of reference, and the curriculum should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Courses differ in duration and the type of credential provided, so you will have to decide what length of program and degree or certificate will best serve your needs. Every training program provides different options 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. Tour the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the school you select 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 Belle Mina AL.