How to Pick the Right Welding Degree Program near Ashland Alabama
Locating the ideal welding vocational school near Ashland AL is an important first step to launching your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are so many schools to pick from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more notably, once you have narrowed down your options, how do you select the best one? Many prospective students begin by reviewing the schools that are closest to their homes. When they have found those that are within commuting distance, they are drawn toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are crucial issues when evaluating welder trade schools, but they are not the only ones. Other concerns include such things as reputation, accreditation and job placement rates. So before starting your search for a trade school to become a welder, it’s wise to establish a list of qualifications that your chosen school must have. But before we explore our due diligence checklist, let’s talk a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welding Degree and Certificate Programs
There are multiple options available to obtain training as a welder in a trade or vocational 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 along with an apprenticeship program. Following are brief descriptions of the most typical welding programs available in the Ashland AL.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are generally offered by trade and technical schools and require about one year to finish. They are more hands-on training in scope, created largely to teach welding skills. They can furnish 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 offers a more extensive education than the certificate or diploma while still providing the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
A number of municipalities and states do have licensing prerequisites for welders, so be sure to check for your location of potential employment. As required, the welder school you select should ready you for any licensing exams that you will need to take in addition to supplying the suitable training to become a qualified welder.
Welder Certification Choices
There are a number of organizations that offer welder certifications, which evaluate the knowledge and skill level of those applying. Many Ashland AL employers not only demand a degree or certificate from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a renowned agency such as the American Welding Society (AWS). A wide range of certifications are available based upon the kind of work that the welder does. Some of the things that certification can attest to are the welder’s ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with certain metal thicknesses
- Work with specific kinds of welds
- Perform according to contract specifications
As formerly mentioned, some states, cities or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those mandating licensing, some additionally require certification for different kinds of work. Certification is also a means 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 verify that the welding tech school you decide on prepares you for certification as needed.
Points to Ask Welder Vocational Programs
As soon as you have decided on the credential you want to obtain, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can start to compare schools. As you can imagine, there are a large number of welding vocational and trade schools in the Ashland AL area. That’s why it’s important to decide up front what qualifications your selected school must have. We have already discussed two significant ones that many people consider first, which are location and tuition cost. As stated, although they are very important qualifiers, they are not the only ones that should be looked at. After all, the program you pick is going to furnish the instruction that will be the foundation of your new profession as a welder. So following are some additional factors you may want to consider before selecting a welder vocational school.
Accreditation. It’s extremely important that the welding trade school you choose is accredited by either a regional or a national organization. There are 2 basic kinds of accreditation. The school may earn Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a single program the school offers, for instance Welding Technology. So confirm that the program you pick is accredited, not just the school itself. Also, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, such as the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping make sure that you obtain an excellent education, the accreditation can also assist in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently unavailable in Ashland AL for non-accredited schools. Finally, for those states or municipalities that mandate licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited as well.
Apprenticeship and Job Assistance Programs. Numerous welding diploma or degree programs are offered 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 looking at assist 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. More established schools may have a more substantial network of graduates that they can rely upon for placements. These programs can assist students in finding employment and establish associations within the Ashland AL welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that enroll in an academic program and complete it. It’s crucial that the welding school you select has a high completion rate. A reduced rate could mean that the students who enrolled in the program were dissatisfied with the instruction, the teachers, or the facilities, and quit. The job placement rate is also a good indicator of the quality of training. A high job placement rate will not only confirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of Ashland AL employer relationships to help students obtain employment or apprenticeships upon graduation.
Up-to-date Equipment and Facilities. Once you have narrowed down your selection of welder programs to 2 or 3 possibilities, you should think out visiting the campuses to look over their facilities. Verify that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are up-to-date. Specifically, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be using on the job. 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. If not, ask a local Ashland AL welding contractor if they can give you a few suggestions.
School Location. Even though we previously briefly covered the importance of location, there are a couple of additional issues that we need to address. You should bear in mind that unless you can move, the welder school you select must be within commuting distance of your Ashland AL home. If you do opt to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to moving expenses there might be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly the case for welding certificate programs offered by community colleges. Also, if the school offers a job placement or apprenticeship program, most likely their placements are within the school’s local community. So the location of the school should be in a region or state where you ultimately will desire to work.
Small Classes. One-on-one instruction is essential for a hands-on trade such as welding. It’s easy to be lost in bigger classes and not get much individualized instruction. Ask what the average class size is for the welding schools you are considering. Ask 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 opinions. Also, chat with a few of the instructors and ask what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they have earned.
Flexible Class Schedules. Many people learn a new profession while still employed at their current job. Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are looking at are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Ashland AL, confirm that the schools you are looking at offer those alternatives. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you choose offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the protocol is to make up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Online Welder Courses
Welding is truly a hands-on kind of vocation, and for that reason not extremely suitable for online training. Even so, there are a few online welding programs offered by specific community colleges and vocational schools in the greater Ashland AL area that can be credited toward a certificate or degree program. These courses mainly deal with such subjects as safety, reading blueprints, and metallurgy. They can help give a beginner a foundation to start their training and education. Nevertheless, the most critical point is that you can’t learn how to weld or handle welding materials unless you actually do it. Obviously that can’t be done online. These skills must be learned in an on-campus environment or in an apprenticeship. Online or distance learning is more appropriate for experienced welders that would like to advance their knowledge or possibly attain a more advanced degree. So if you should come across an online welding certificate or degree program, be extremely careful and verify that the greater part of the training is done on campus or in a workshop type of setting.
Attending a Welding School in Ashland AL?
If you have decided to enroll in a welder training program in the Ashland Alabama area, you may find the following information both informative and helpful about the location of your new school campus.
Clay County was formed by an act of the Alabama General Assembly on December 7, 1866. Less than a year later, Ashland was established as the county seat on land donated by Hollingsworth Watts for the construction of a courthouse. Ashland was incorporated in 1871 and was named for 19th century statesman Henry Clay's Kentucky estate home.
During the early years, the town grew very rapidly. The town continued to grow with the opening of Alabama's first graphite mine in 1899. When World War I ended, the market for graphite dropped drastically, thus ending the town's growth phase.
The 1930s brought the Great Depression and boll weevil to Ashland that destroyed the cotton industry. Farmers were forced to abandon what had been the community's major industry. Timber, poultry, and cabinet making became the dominant industries by the beginning of the 21st century.
Pick the Best Welding Vocational School Ashland AL
Picking the right welder school 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 Learn How To Weld. However, as we have addressed in this article, there are a number of things that you will need to assess and compare between the schools you are looking at. It’s a prerequisite that any welding training that you are assessing includes a lot of hands-on instruction. Classes should be small in size and each student must have their own welding machine to train on. Classroom teaching should provide a real-world perspective, and the curriculum should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Courses vary in length and the kind of credential offered, so you will have to determine what length of program and certificate or degree will best satisfy your needs. Every training program offers different possibilities for certification also. Probably The ideal way to research your short list of schools is to visit each campus and speak 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 school you select is the ideal one for you. With the proper training, effort and dedication, the final result will be a new career as a professional welder in Ashland AL.