How to Find the Right Welding Trade School near Decatur Alabama
Choosing the ideal welder vocational school near Decatur AL is an important first step to beginning your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are numerous schools to choose from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more significantly, once you have fine tuned your options, how do you pick the best one? Most prospective students start by looking at the schools that are closest to their residences. Once they have identified those that are within driving distance, they gravitate toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and tuition cost are necessary considerations when reviewing welder vocational schools, but they are not the only ones. Other factors include such things as accreditation, reputation and job placement rates. So before starting your search for a vocational school to become a welder, it’s wise to create a list of qualifications that your selected school must have. But before we examine our due diligence checklist, let’s talk a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welding Certificate and Degree Training Programs
There are multiple options available to get training as a welder in a technical or trade school. You can receive a a certificate, a diploma or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are offered in Welding Engineering or Welding Technology, but are more advanced programs than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Following are brief explanations of the most common welding programs offered in the Decatur AL.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are usually offered by trade and technical schools and require about 1 year to finish. They are more hands-on training in nature, fashioned largely to teach welding skills. They can provide a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or specialized skills for working welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take two years to complete and are usually offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology provides a more extensive education than the diploma or certificate while still providing the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
Many states and municipalities do have licensing prerequisites for welders, therefore make sure to check for your location of potential employment. As required, the welding school you pick should ready you for any licensing examinations that you will need to take in addition to providing the appropriate training to become a qualified welder.
Welding Certification Choices
There are several institutions that offer welding certifications, which evaluate the knowledge and skill level of those applying. A large number of Decatur AL employers not only expect a certificate or degree from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a renowned agency such as the American Welding Society (AWS). A variety of certifications are offered based on the type of work that the welder performs. Just some of the things that certification can acknowledge are the welder’s ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specific metal thicknesses
- Work with various types of welds
- Perform according to contract specifications
As formerly stated, some states, cities or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those calling for licensing, some also require certification for different kinds of work. Certification is also a means to prove to employers that you are a highly skilled and qualified welder. So just as with licensing, check the requirements for your location and make certain that the welder technical school you choose prepares you for certification as needed.
What to Ask Welding Trade Schools
When you have chosen the credential you want to attain, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can begin to assess schools. As you can imagine, there are a large number of welding trade and technical schools in the Decatur AL area. That’s why it’s necessary to determine up front what qualifications your chosen school must have. We have previously covered two important ones that many people look at 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 considered. After all, the school you choose is going to provide the instruction that will be the foundation of your new career as a welder. So below are more factors you may want to consider before choosing a welder vocational school.
Accreditation. It’s very important that the welding technical school you pick is accredited by either a regional or a national organization. There are 2 standard 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 has, such as Welding Technology. So verify that the program you pick is accredited, not just the school alone. Also, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, like the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping make sure that you get an excellent education, the accreditation can also assist in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are often not available in Decatur 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 as well.
Job Assistance and Apprenticeship Programs. Many welding degree or certificate programs are offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Various other schools will assist in placing you in a job or an apprenticeship after graduation. Ask if the schools you are considering help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. The schools should have relationships with local unions and other metal working businesses to which they can place their students. Older schools may have a larger network of graduates that they can rely upon for referrals. These programs can assist students in finding employment and establish associations within the Decatur AL welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that begin an educational program and complete it. It’s essential that the welding program you pick has a high completion rate. A reduced rate could signify that the students who were in the program were dissatisfied with the training, the teachers, or the facilities, and dropped out. The job placement rate is also a good indicator of the caliber of training. A higher job placement rate will not only confirm that the program has a good reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of Decatur AL employer relationships to help students secure employment or apprenticeships after graduation.
Modern Equipment and Facilities. After you have decreased your choice of welder programs to two or three possibilities, you should think out going to the campuses to evaluate their facilities. Confirm that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be taught on are up-to-date. In particular, the training equipment should be similar 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 Decatur AL welding contractor if they can give you a few tips.
School Location. Although we already briefly talked about the importance of location, there are a few additional points that we need to cover. You should remember that unless you can move, the welding program you select needs to be within driving distance of your Decatur AL home. If you do choose to attend an out-of-state school, besides relocation costs there could be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially true for welder diploma programs offered by community colleges. Also, 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 a region or state where you ultimately will want to work.
Small Classes. Individualized instruction is important for a hands-on trade such as welding. It’s easy to be overlooked in bigger classes and not obtain much personalized instruction. Find out what the typical class size is for the welder programs you are considering. Ask if you can attend a couple of classes so that you can experience just how much personal attention the students are getting. While there, speak with a few of the students and get their feedback. Also, chat with a few of the instructors and ask what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they hold.
Flexible Class Schedules. Many people learn a new trade while still employed at their present job. Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are considering are convenient enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Decatur AL, make sure that the schools you are considering provide those alternatives. If you can only attend part-time, make certain that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the protocol is to make up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
Online Welder Classes
Welding is truly a manual kind of trade, and for that reason not extremely suitable for training online. Having said that, there are a small number of online welding courses offered by certain community colleges and technical schools in the greater Decatur AL area that may be credited toward a degree or certificate program. These classes primarily cover such topics as reading blueprints, safety,, and metallurgy. They can help give a beginner a basis to start their education and training. Nevertheless, the most critical point is that you can’t learn how to weld or handle welding materials unless you actually do it. Clearly that can’t be performed online. These skills must be learned in an on-campus setting or in an apprenticeship. Online or distance learning is more appropriate for seasoned welders that desire to advance their knowledge or perhaps obtain a more advanced degree. So if you should discover an online welding certificate or degree program, be extremely careful and confirm that the larger part of the training is done on campus or in a workshop type of environment.
Attending a Welding School in Decatur AL?
If you have decided to enroll in a welder training program in the Decatur Alabama area, you may find the following information both informative and helpful about the location of your new school campus.
Decatur is a city in Morgan and Limestone counties in the State of Alabama. The city, nicknamed "The River City", is located in Northern Alabama on the banks of Wheeler Lake, along the Tennessee River. It is the largest city and county seat of Morgan County. The population in 2010 was 55,683.
Decatur is also the core city of the two-county large Decatur, Alabama metropolitan area which had an estimated population of 153,374 in 2013. Combined with the Huntsville Metropolitan Area, the two create the Huntsville-Decatur Combined Statistical Area, of which Decatur is the second-largest city.
Like many southern cities in the early 19th century, Decatur's early success was based upon its location along a river. Railroad routes and boating traffic pushed the city to the front of North Alabama's economic atmosphere. The city rapidly grew into a large economic center within the Tennessee Valley and was a hub for travelers and cargo between Nashville and Mobile, as well as Chattanooga and New Orleans. Throughout the 20th century, the city experienced steady growth, but was eclipsed as the regional economic center by the fast-growing Huntsville during the space race. The city now finds its economy heavily based on manufacturing, mining, cargo transit, chemical, and high-tech companies such as Vulcan Materials, Daikin, Toray, United Launch Alliance.
Pick the Ideal Welding Vocational Program Decatur AL
Picking the right welder training program will probably be the most critical decision you will make to launch your new profession. You originally stopped by our website because you had an interest in TIG Welding School. However, as we have addressed in this article, there are many factors that you will need to assess and compare among the programs you are reviewing. It’s a must that any welding training that you are assessing includes a lot of hands-on training. Classes need to be smaller in size and every student must have their own welding machine to train with. Classroom instruction needs to provide a real-world context, and the course of study should be current and conform with industry standards. Programs differ in duration and the type of credential offered, so you will have to ascertain what length of program and credential will best satisfy your needs. Every program provides different possibilities for certification as well. Probably The ideal approach to research your final list of schools is to check out each campus and speak with the students and instructors. Invest some time to attend a few classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the program you pick is the right one for you. With the right training, hard work and dedication, the end outcome will be a new occupation as a professional welder in Decatur AL.