How to Enroll In the Right Welding Certification Program near Normal Alabama
Selecting the ideal welding school near Normal AL is an important first step to starting your new career as a professional welder. But since there are a lot of schools to choose from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more significantly, once you have narrowed down your alternatives, how do you select the best one? A number of prospective students begin by reviewing the schools that are closest to their homes. Once they have found those that are within commuting distance, they are drawn toward the least expensive one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are crucial issues when reviewing welder vocational schools, but they are not the only ones. Other considerations include such things as accreditation, reputation and job placement rates. So before starting 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.
Welding Certificate and Degree Training Courses
There are several alternatives available to receive training as a welder in a technical or trade school. You can obtain a a certificate, a diploma or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are offered in Welding Technology or Welding Engineering, but are more advanced programs than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available along with an apprenticeship program. Following are short descriptions of the most prevalent welding programs available in the Normal AL.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are generally offered by trade and technical schools and require about a year to complete. They are more hands-on training in nature, created largely to teach welding skills. They can provide a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or specialized 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 supplying the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
Some municipalities and states do have licensing requirements for welders, therefore be sure to check for your location of future employment. As required, the welding school you pick should prepare you for any licensing exams that you will need to take in addition to providing the proper training to become a professional welder.
Welder Certification Alternatives
There are various institutions that offer welder certifications, which assess the skill level and knowledge of those applying. A large number of Normal AL employers not only expect a degree or certificate from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a highly regarded agency like the American Welding Society (AWS). A variety of certifications are available based on the type of work that the welder performs. Some of the skills that certification can acknowledge are the welder’s ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specified metal thicknesses
- Work with specific types of welds
- Perform according to contract specifications
As formerly mentioned, various states, cities or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those mandating licensing, many also require certification for various kinds of work. Certification is also a means to demonstrate to employers that you are an exceptionally skilled and experienced welder. So just as with licensing, look into the requirements for your location and make certain that the welder tech school you choose prepares you for certification if needed.
Points to Ask Welding Trade Programs
After you have chosen the credential you want to earn, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can begin to compare schools. As you can imagine, there are a large number of welder trade and technical schools in the Normal AL area. That’s why it’s essential to establish in advance what qualifications your selected school must have. We have previously discussed a couple of important ones that most people consider first, which are location and tuition cost. As mentioned, although they are essential qualifications, they are not the only ones that must be considered. After all, the program you decide on is going to furnish the training that will be the foundation of your new profession as a welder. So below are some additional factors you may want to consider before choosing a welder trade school.
Accreditation. It’s extremely important that the welding tech school you choose is accredited by either a regional or a national organization. There are two basic kinds of accreditation. The school may receive Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a single program the school offers, for example 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 agency, for example the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping ensure that you receive a superior education, the accreditation may also assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable in Normal AL for schools that are not accredited. Also, for those states or municipalities that require licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited as well.
Apprenticeship and Job Placement Programs. Numerous welding diploma or degree programs are offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Other schools will assist in placing you in an apprenticeship or a job after graduation. Find out if the schools you are looking at assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. These schools must have partnerships 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 assist students in finding employment and establish relationships within the Normal AL welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that enroll in an educational program and finish it. It’s crucial that the welder program you pick has a higher completion rate. A lower rate could indicate that the students who joined the program were unhappy 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 higher job placement rate will not only verify that the program has an excellent reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of Normal AL contacts to help students secure employment or apprenticeships after graduation.
Up-to-date Facilities and Equipment. Once you have limited your choice of welder programs to two or three possibilities, you should consider visiting the campuses to evaluate their facilities. Confirm that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be trained on are modern. Specifically, the training equipment should be comparable to what you will be working with in the field. 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 Normal 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 couple of additional issues that we need to address. You should bear in mind that unless you are able to relocate, the welding school you pick needs to be within commuting distance of your Normal AL home. If you do choose to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there could be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially the case for welder certificate 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 local community. So the location of the school needs to be in a region or state where you subsequently will want to work.
Small Classes. One-on-one instruction is important for a manual trade such as welding. It’s easy to be lost in larger classes and not get much one-on-one training. Find out what the average class size is for the welding programs you are considering. Inquire if you can sit in on some classes so that you can witness just how much personal attention the students are receiving. While there, talk with some of the students and get their evaluations. Also, talk with a couple of the instructors and ask what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they have earned.
Flexible Class Schedules. Some people learn a new profession while still employed at their current job. Confirm that the class schedules for the schools you are looking at are convenient enough to satisfy your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Normal AL, make certain that the schools you are looking at provide those alternatives. If you can only enroll part-time, make certain 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 work, illness or family circumstances.
Online Welding Certificate and Degree Programs
Welding is very much a manual type of vocation, and consequently not very suitable for online training. However, there are a few online welding programs offered by various community colleges and vocational schools in the greater Normal AL area that may count toward a certificate or degree program. These classes primarily deal with such topics as reading blueprints, safety,, and metallurgy. They can help give a novice a basis to initiate their training and education. However, the most critical point is that you can’t learn how to weld or use welding materials until you actually do it. Obviously that can’t be performed online. These skills must be learned in an on-campus environment or in an apprenticeship. Online or distance learning is better suited for seasoned welders that desire to advance their knowledge or possibly earn a more advanced degree. So if you should come across an online welding certificate or degree program, be extremely careful and make certain that the bulk of the training is done on campus or in a workshop type of setting.
Attending a Welding School in Normal AL?
If you have decided to enroll in a welder training program in the Normal Alabama area, you may find the following information both informative and helpful about the location of your new school campus.
Normal was established in 1890, when AAMU was then known as "State Normal and Industrial School of Huntsville". It was also designated a land grant college of Alabama. At that time student enrollment was 300 with 11 teachers. That same year, a United States Post Office was established there. Normal's ZIP Code is 35762. Students were called "Normalites".
Select the Ideal Welding Trade School Normal AL
Choosing the right welding school will undoubtedly be the most critical decision you will make to begin your new career. You originally stopped by our website because you had an interest in Learn Welding Online. However, as we have addressed in this article, there are a number of things that you will need to evaluate and compare between the programs you are considering. It’s a must that any welding training that you are examining includes a good deal of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be small in size and each student must have their own welding machine to train on. Classroom education needs to offer a real-world perspective, and the curriculum should be current and in-line with industry standards. Courses vary in length and the type of credential provided, so you will need to ascertain what length of program and certificate or degree will best serve your needs. Every training program provides different options for certification also. Probably The ideal approach to research your short list of schools is to go to each campus and talk with the faculty and students. Take the time to sit in on a few classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the program you decide on is the ideal one for you. With the proper training, effort and commitment, the final outcome will be a new career as a professional welder in Normal AL.