How to Choose the Right Welding Training Class near Muscle Shoals Alabama
Finding the right welding technical school near Muscle Shoals AL is an important first step to starting your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are so many schools to select from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more significantly, once you have narrowed down your choices, how do you pick the best one? Most prospective students start by reviewing the schools that are nearest to their homes. When they have located those that are within driving distance, they are drawn toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and tuition cost are crucial concerns when reviewing welding vocational schools, but they are not the only ones. Other concerns include such things as accreditation, reputation and job placement rates. So before beginning your search for a trade school to become a welder, it’s wise to create a list of qualifications that your selected school must have. But before we explore our due diligence checklist, let’s talk a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welder Degree and Certificate Training Courses
There are multiple options to receive 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 available in Welding Technology or Welding Engineering, but are more advanced programs than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available combined with an apprenticeship program. Following are short descriptions of the most common welding programs offered in the Muscle Shoals AL.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are generally offered by technical and trade schools and require about 1 year to complete. They are more hands-on training in nature, designed largely to teach welding skills. They can provide 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 usually offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology provides a more well-rounded education than the diploma or certificate while still providing the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
Some municipalities and states do have licensing prerequisites for welders, therefore don’t forget to find out for your location of potential employment. As needed, the welding school you select should ready you for any licensing examinations that you will need to pass in addition to supplying the appropriate training to become a professional welder.
Welder Certification Choices
There are various institutions that offer welder certifications, which test the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Numerous Muscle Shoals AL employers not only demand a degree or certificate from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a respected agency like the American Welding Society (AWS). A variety of certifications are offered based upon the type of work that the welder does. Just some of the skills that certification can attest to are the welder’s ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specified metal thicknesses
- Work with certain types of welds
- Operate in compliance with contract specifications
As earlier mentioned, various cities, states or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those mandating licensing, some also require certification for various kinds of work. Certification is also a way to demonstrate to employers that you are an exceptionally skilled and knowledgeable welder. So just as with licensing, check the requirements for your location and confirm that the welding vocational school you select readies you for certification as needed.
Questions to Ask Welding Technical Programs
When you have chosen the credential you would like to attain, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can begin to assess schools. As you can imagine, there are many welding trade and technical schools in the Muscle Shoals AL area. That’s why it’s essential to determine in advance what qualifications your chosen school must have. We have previously covered two significant ones that most people consider first, which are location and tuition cost. As stated, although they are essential qualifiers, they are not the only ones that need to be looked at. After all, the program you select is going to provide the education that will be the foundation of your new vocation as a welder. So following are some additional factors you may need to consider before selecting a welder vocational school.
Accreditation. It’s essential that the welding trade school you choose is accredited by either a national or a regional organization. There are two 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 instance Welding Technology. So confirm 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 organization, such as the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). In addition to helping make sure that you obtain a quality education, the accreditation may also assist in getting financial aid or student loans, which are often not offered in Muscle Shoals AL for non-accredited schools. Also, for those states or local governments that mandate licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited also.
Job Assistance and Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous welding certificate or degree programs are offered 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 help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. These schools should have relationships with local unions and other metal working businesses to which they can place their students. Older schools may have a more substantial network of graduates that they can rely upon for referrals. These programs can assist students in finding employment and develop associations within the Muscle Shoals AL welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that begin an educational program and finish it. It’s important that the welder school you choose has a higher completion rate. A low rate might mean that the students who joined the program were unhappy with the instruction, 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 verify that the program has a good reputation within the trade, but additionally that it has the network of Muscle Shoals AL contacts to help students obtain employment or apprenticeships upon graduation.
Up-to-date Facilities and Equipment. Once you have narrowed down your selection of welding programs to 2 or 3 options, you should consider visiting the campuses to look over their facilities. Make sure that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are up-to-date. Specifically, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be using on the job. If you are uncertain 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 Muscle Shoals AL welding contractor if they can give you a few suggestions.
School Location. Although we previously briefly covered the significance of location, there are a few additional points that we should address. You should bear in mind that unless you can move, the welding program you select must be within driving distance of your Muscle Shoals AL home. If you do choose to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides moving costs there may be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially true for welding degree programs offered by community colleges. Also, if the school provides a job placement or apprenticeship program, more than likely their placements are within the school’s local community. So the location of the school needs to be in a region or state where you subsequently will desire to work.
Small Classes. One-on-one training is important for a manual trade such as welding. It’s easy to get lost in bigger classes and not get much personalized training. Ask what the average class size is for the welding schools you are looking at. Ask if you can attend a few classes so that you can witness how much personal attention the students are receiving. While there, speak with several of the students and get their feedback. Similarly, speak with a few of the instructors and find out what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they have earned.
Convenient Class Scheduling. Lots of folks learn a new profession while still working at their current job. Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are flexible enough to satisfy your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Muscle Shoals AL, confirm that the schools you are reviewing provide those choices. If you can only enroll part-time, make certain that the school you choose offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the policy is to make up classes if you you miss any because of work, sickness or family emergencies.
Online Welding Classes
Welding is truly a manual kind of profession, and for that reason not very compatible with training online. However, there are some online welding classes offered by certain community colleges and trade schools in the greater Muscle Shoals AL area that may be credited toward a certificate or degree program. These classes mainly deal with such topics as reading blueprints, safety,, and metallurgy. They can help give a beginner a foundation to initiate their training and education. However, the most significant point is that you can’t learn how to weld or handle welding materials unless you actually do it. Clearly that can’t be accomplished online. These skills need 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 attain a more advanced degree. So if you should find an online welding certificate or degree program, be extremely cautious and confirm that the majority of the training is done on campus or in a workshop type of environment.
Attending a Welding School in Muscle Shoals AL?
If you have decided to enroll in a welder training program in the Muscle Shoals Alabama area, you may find the following information both informative and helpful about the location of your new school campus.
Muscle Shoals, Alabama
Muscle Shoals is the largest city in Colbert County, Alabama, United States. It is located along the Tennessee River in the northern part of the state and, as of the 2010 census, the population of Muscle Shoals was 13,146. The estimated population in 2015 was 13,706.
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. Local studios and artists developed the "Muscle Shoals Sound", including FAME Studios in the late 1950s and Muscle Shoals Sound Studio in 1969. They produced hit records that shaped the national and international history of popular music.
Find the Ideal Welding Tech School Muscle Shoals AL
Choosing the best welding training program will probably be the most important decision you will make to start your new profession. You originally stopped by our website because you had an interest in Pipe Welding Courses. However, as we have covered in this article, there are many things that you will need to examine and compare between the programs you are considering. It’s a prerequisite that any welding training program that you are considering includes a good deal of hands-on training. Classes need to be smaller in size and each student should have their own welding machine to train on. Classroom education needs to offer a real-world perspective, and the curriculum should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Programs vary in duration and the kind of credential provided, so you will need to determine what length of program and credential will best satisfy your needs. Each program offers different options for certification also. Perhaps The ideal way to research your short list of schools is to visit each campus and talk with the teachers and students. Take the time to monitor some classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the program you choose is the ideal one for you. With the proper training, hard work and dedication, the end outcome will be a new occupation as a professional welder in Muscle Shoals AL.