How to Enroll In the Right Welding Technical School near Tuscaloosa Alabama
Finding the right welder technical school near Tuscaloosa 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 select the best one? Many people start by checking out the schools that are closest to their homes. Once they have identified those that are within driving distance, they gravitate toward the least costly one. Yes, location and tuition cost are important issues when examining welder trade schools, but they are not the only ones. Other factors include such things as accreditation, reputation and job placement rates. So before beginning 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 explore our due diligence checklist, let’s talk a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welding Certificate and Degree Programs
There are several options available to get 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 available 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. Below are brief descriptions of the most typical welding programs offered in the Tuscaloosa AL.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are usually made available by technical and trade schools and require about 1 year to finish. They are more hands-on training in nature, designed mainly 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 finish and are usually offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology furnishes a more extensive education than the certificate or diploma while still furnishing the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
Many municipalities and states do have licensing prerequisites for welders, therefore be sure to check for your location of future employment. If required, the welder school you select should prep you for any licensing examinations that you will have to take in addition to furnishing the suitable training to become a professional welder.
Welding Certification Options
There are a number of institutions that offer welder certifications, which evaluate the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Many Tuscaloosa AL employers not only demand a degree or certificate from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a respected organization like the American Welding Society (AWS). A wide range of certifications are offered based upon the kind of work that the welder does. Some of the things that certification can acknowledge are the welder’s ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with certain metal thicknesses
- Work with specific types of welds
- Work according to contract specifications
As formerly mentioned, various cities, states or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those requiring licensing, some also require certification for various types of work. Certification is also a way to prove to employers that you are an extremely skilled and experienced welder. So just as with licensing, look into the requirements for your location and confirm that the welding trade school you decide on prepares you for certification if needed.
What to Ask Welder Technical Schools
Once you have chosen the credential you would like to obtain, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can start to assess schools. As you probably know, there are many welder vocational and trade schools in the Tuscaloosa AL area. That’s why it’s important to establish in advance what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have already covered a couple of important ones that many people consider first, which are location and tuition cost. As mentioned, although they are very important qualifications, they are not the only ones that must be considered. After all, the school you decide on is going to provide the instruction that will be the foundation of your new career as a welder. So following are more factors you might want to evaluate before picking a welder vocational school.
Accreditation. It’s extremely important that the welding trade school you select is accredited by either a regional or a national organization. There are 2 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, for instance Welding Technology. So make sure that the program you select is accredited, not just the school alone. Also, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, such as the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). In addition to helping ensure that you receive a superior education, the accreditation may also assist in getting financial aid or student loans, which are often not offered in Tuscaloosa AL for non-accredited schools. Also, for those states or local governments that mandate licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited also.
Job Assistance and Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of welder certificate or degree programs are offered combined with an apprenticeship program. Some other schools will help place you in an apprenticeship or a job upon graduation. Ask if the schools you are looking at assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. These schools should have associations with local unions and various 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 placements. These programs can help students find employment and develop relationships within the Tuscaloosa AL welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that start an educational program and complete it. It’s essential that the welding program you choose has a high completion rate. A lower rate may indicate that the students who were in the program were unhappy with the instruction, the instructors, 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 confirm that the program has an excellent reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of Tuscaloosa AL contacts to assist students obtain apprenticeships or employment upon graduation.
Up-to-date Equipment and Facilities. Once you have narrowed down your selection of welder programs to 2 or 3 options, you should consider going to the campuses to look over their facilities. Verify that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be trained on are modern. Specifically, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be working with on the job. If you are unsure what to look for, and are already in an apprenticeship program, ask the master welder you are working under for guidance. Otherwise, ask a local Tuscaloosa AL welding contractor if they can give you a few tips.
School Location. Even though we already briefly discussed the significance of location, there are a few additional points that we should deal with. You should keep in mind that unless you are able to move, the welder school you choose must be within driving distance of your Tuscaloosa AL home. If you do choose to attend an out-of-state school, apart from moving expenses there might be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially true for welder degree programs offered by community colleges. Also, if the school provides an apprenticeship or job placement program, more than likely their placements are within the school’s regional community. So the location of the school should be in an area or state where you subsequently will wish to work.
Small Classes. Personalized instruction is important for a manual trade such as welding. It’s possible to be overlooked in larger classes and not obtain much one-on-one instruction. Ask what the typical 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 see how much personal attention the students are receiving. While there, talk with some of the students and get their opinions. Also, talk with a few of the trainers 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. Make sure that the class schedules for the schools you are reviewing are flexible enough to satisfy your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Tuscaloosa AL, confirm that the schools you are reviewing offer those choices. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, verify that the school you choose offers part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the protocol is to make up classes should you miss any due to illness, work or family circumstances.
Online Welder Degree and Certificate Programs
Welding is truly a hands-on kind of vocation, and for that reason not very compatible with online training. However, there are a few online welding classes offered by certain community colleges and technical schools in the greater Tuscaloosa AL area that can count toward a certificate or degree program. These classes mainly cover such topics as safety, reading blueprints, and metallurgy. They can help give a beginner a basis to start their education and training. Nevertheless, the most significant point is that you can’t learn how to weld or use welding materials until you actually do it. Clearly that can’t be done online. These skills must be learned in an on-campus setting or in an apprenticeship. Online or distance learning is more appropriate for experienced welders that desire to advance their knowledge or perhaps earn a more advanced degree. So if you should discover an online welding certificate or degree program, be very cautious and make certain that the greater part of the training is done on campus or in a workshop type of environment.
Attending a Welding School in Tuscaloosa AL?
If you have decided to enroll in a welder training program in the Tuscaloosa Alabama area, you may find the following information both informative and helpful about the location of your new school campus.
Tuscaloosa (/tʌskəˈluːsə/ TUS-kə-LOO-sə) is a city in and the seat of Tuscaloosa County in west central Alabama (in the southeastern United States). Located on the Black Warrior River at the Atlantic Seaboard fall line of the Piedmont, it is the fifth-largest city in Alabama, with an estimated population of 100,287 in 2017.
Incorporated as a town on December 13, 1819, it was named after Tuskaloosa, the chief of a band of Muskogean-speaking people. They battled and were defeated by forces of Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto in 1540 in the Battle of Mabila, thought to have been located in what is now central Alabama. Tuscaloosa served as Alabama's capital city from 1826 to 1846.
Tuscaloosa is the regional center of industry, commerce, healthcare, and education for the area of west-central Alabama known as West Alabama. It is the principal city of the Tuscaloosa Metropolitan Statistical Area, which includes Tuscaloosa, Hale and Pickens counties. In 2013 its estimated metro population was 235,628. Tuscaloosa is also the home of The University of Alabama, Stillman College and Shelton State Community College. While the city attracted international attention when Mercedes-Benz announced it would build its first automotive assembly plant in North America in Tuscaloosa County, the University of Alabama remains the dominant economic and cultural engine in the city.
Select the Right Welding Technical Program Tuscaloosa AL
Choosing the right welding training program will probably be the most critical decision you will make to launch your new trade. You originally stopped by our website because you had an interest in Summer Welding Courses. However, as we have discussed in this article, there are many things that you will need to examine and compare among the programs you are considering. It’s a prerequisite that any welder training that you are evaluating includes a lot of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be small in size and every student should have their own welding machine to train on. Classroom teaching should provide a real-world frame of reference, and the training program should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Training programs vary in duration and the kind of credential provided, so you will have to decide what length of program and credential will best serve your needs. Every training program offers unique possibilities for certification also. Probably The ideal way to research your final list of schools is to visit each campus and speak with the students and faculty. Take the time to attend some classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the program you select is the ideal one for you. With the right training, hard work and commitment, the end outcome will be a new career as a professional welder in Tuscaloosa AL.