How to Enroll In the Right Welder Certification Course near Birmingham Alabama
Choosing the right welder trade school near Birmingham AL is an important first step to starting your new career as a professional welder. But since there are numerous schools to pick from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more significantly, once you have narrowed down your options, how do you pick the best one? Most prospective students start by reviewing the schools that are closest to their residences. When they have found those that are within driving distance, they are drawn toward the least costly one. Yes, location and tuition cost are important concerns when evaluating welder vocational 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 prudent to develop a list of qualifications that your chosen school must have. But before we delve into our due diligence checklist, let’s cover a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welding Certificate and Degree Training Programs
There are several alternatives available to get training as a welder in a technical or trade school. You can earn a a certificate, a diploma 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 made available in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Following are short descriptions of the most prevalent welding programs offered in the Birmingham AL.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are usually made available by technical and trade schools and require about one year to finish. They are more hands-on training in nature, created primarily to develop welding skills. They can furnish a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or supplemental skills for working welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take 2 years to finish 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 furnishing the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
Many municipalities and states do have licensing requirements for welders, therefore make sure to check for your location of potential employment. As required, the welder school you select should prepare you for any licensing exams that you will need to take in addition to providing the suitable training to become a professional welder.
Welding Certification Choices
There are multiple institutions that offer welder certifications, which test the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Many Birmingham AL employers not only require a certificate or degree from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a respected organization such as the American Welding Society (AWS). A wide range of certifications are available based upon the type of work that the welder performs. Some of the skills that certification can attest to are the welder’s ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with certain metal thicknesses
- Work with certain kinds of welds
- Work based on contract specifications
As earlier stated, 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 means to demonstrate to employers that you are an extremely skilled and experienced welder. So just as with licensing, look into the requirements for your location and make sure that the welder vocational school you choose prepares you for certification as needed.
Subjects to Ask Welding Vocational Programs
When you have decided on the credential you would like to attain, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can begin to compare schools. As you probably know, there are numerous welding trade and technical schools in the Birmingham AL area. That’s why it’s essential to decide in advance what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have previously covered 2 significant ones that many people look at first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As mentioned, although they are very important qualifiers, they are not the only ones that should be considered. After all, the school you choose is going to furnish the education that will be the foundation of your new profession as a welder. So following are more factors you might need to evaluate before selecting a welding tech school.
Accreditation. It’s extremely important that the welding vocational school you select is accredited by either a national or a regional agency. There are 2 basic 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 recognized accrediting agency, for example the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping ensure that you obtain a quality education, the accreditation might also assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are often unavailable in Birmingham AL for non-accredited schools. 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 diploma programs are offered combined with an apprenticeship program. Various other schools will assist in placing you in a job or an apprenticeship upon graduation. Ask if the schools you are reviewing help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. These schools should have partnerships with local unions and other metal working businesses to which they can refer their students. Older schools may have a larger network of graduates that they can utilize for referrals. These programs can assist students in finding employment and develop relationships within the Birmingham AL welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that enroll in an instructional program and complete it. It’s crucial that the welder program you choose has a high completion rate. A low rate may signify that the students who joined the program were dissatisfied with the training, the teachers, or the facilities, and quit. The job placement rate is also a good indicator of the caliber of training. A higher job placement rate will not only affirm that the program has a good reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of Birmingham AL employer relationships to help students secure employment or apprenticeships after graduation.
Up-to-date Facilities and Equipment. After you have limited your choice of welder schools to two or three options, you should think out visiting the campuses to evaluate their facilities. Verify that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be taught on are modern. In particular, the training equipment should be comparable 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. If not, ask a local Birmingham AL welding professional if they can give you a few pointers.
School Location. Even though we previously briefly discussed the significance of location, there are a couple of additional points that we need to cover. You should keep in mind that unless you have the ability to move, the welding program you choose needs to be within driving distance of your Birmingham AL home. If you do decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, apart from relocation expenses there may be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially true for welding diploma programs offered by community colleges. Furthermore, if the school provides a job placement or apprenticeship program, most 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 want to work.
Small Classes. Personalized training is important for a manual trade such as welding. It’s easy to be lost in larger classes and not get much personalized training. Ask what the usual class size is for the welder schools you are reviewing. Ask if you can sit in on some classes so that you can see just how much personal attention the students are getting. While there, speak with several of the students and get their feedback. Also, talk to some of the instructors and ask what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they have earned.
Flexible Class Scheduling. Many people learn a new trade while still working at their present job. Check to see that the class schedules for the programs you are looking at are convenient enough to meet your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Birmingham AL, make sure that the schools you are looking at provide those options. If you can only enroll part-time, verify that the school you pick offers part-time enrollment. Also, check to see what the protocol is to make up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family emergencies.
Online Welder Schools
Welding is very much a manual kind of vocation, and therefore not very compatible with online training. However, there are some online welding courses offered by specific community colleges and technical schools in the greater Birmingham AL area that may count toward a certificate or degree program. These classes mainly deal with such topics as safety, reading blueprints, and metallurgy. They can help provide a novice a basis to initiate their education and training. However, the most important point is that you can’t learn how to weld or work with welding materials unless you actually do it. Clearly 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 more appropriate for seasoned welders that want to advance their expertise or possibly attain a more advanced degree. So if you should come across an online welding certificate or degree program, be extremely cautious and make certain that the larger part of the training is done on campus or in a workshop type of setting.
Attending a Welding School in Birmingham AL?
If you have decided to enroll in a welder training program in the Birmingham Alabama area, you may find the following information both informative and helpful about the location of your new school campus.
Birmingham (/ˈbɜːrmɪŋhæm/ BUR-ming-ham) is a city in the north central region of the U.S. state of Alabama. With an estimated 2017 population of 210,710, it is the most populous city in Alabama. Birmingham is the seat of Jefferson County, Alabama's most populous and fifth largest county. As of 2017, the Birmingham-Hoover Metropolitan Statistical Area had a population of 1,149,807, making it the most populous in Alabama and 49th-most populous in the United States. Birmingham serves as an important regional hub and is associated with the Deep South, Piedmont, and Appalachian regions of the nation.
Birmingham was founded in 1871, during the post-Civil War Reconstruction era, through the merger of three farm towns, most notably Elyton. The new city was named for Birmingham, England, the UK's second largest city and, at the time, a major industrial city. The Alabama city annexed smaller neighbors and developed as an industrial center, based on mining, the new iron and steel industry, and rail transport. Most of the original settlers who founded Birmingham were of English ancestry. The city was developed as a place where cheap, non-unionized immigrant labor (primarily Irish and Italian), along with African-American labor from rural Alabama, could work in the city's steel mills and blast furnaces, giving it a competitive advantage over unionized industrial cities in the Midwest and Northeast.:14
From its founding through the end of the 1960s, Birmingham was a primary industrial center of the southern United States. Its growth from 1881 through 1920 earned it nicknames such as "The Magic City" and "The Pittsburgh of the South". Its major industries were iron and steel production. Major components of the railroad industry, rails and railroad cars, were manufactured in Birmingham. Since the 1860s, the two primary hubs of railroading in the "Deep South" have been Birmingham and Atlanta. The economy diversified in the latter half of the 20th century. Banking, telecommunications, transportation, electrical power transmission, medical care, college education, and insurance have become major economic activities. Birmingham ranks as one of the largest banking centers in the U.S. Also, it is among the most important business centers in the Southeast.
Pick the Best Welding Tech School Birmingham AL
Selecting the best welder school will undoubtedly 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 Welding Technical Schools. However, as we have addressed in this article, there are a number of things that you will need to evaluate and compare among the programs you are considering. It’s a must that any welder school that you are examining includes a considerable amount of hands-on instruction. Classes should be small in size and each student should have their personal welding machine to train with. Classroom teaching needs to provide a real-world perspective, and the course of study should be current and in-line with industry standards. Training programs differ in duration and the type of credential offered, so you will have to determine what length of program and certificate or degree will best fulfill your needs. Each program offers unique possibilities for certification as well. Probably The ideal approach to research your final list of schools is to go to each campus and talk with the faculty and students. Invest some time to attend a few classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the program you select is the best one for you. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, the end outcome will be a new occupation as a professional welder in Birmingham AL.