How to Select the Right Welding Training Class near Northport Alabama
Enrolling in the ideal welding school near Northport AL is an essential first step to starting your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are a lot of schools to pick from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more significantly, once you have fine tuned your options, how do you select the best one? Most prospective students begin by reviewing the schools that are closest to their homes. When they have identified those that are within commuting distance, they are drawn toward the least expensive one. Yes, location and tuition cost are necessary considerations when examining welder technical schools, but they are not the only ones. Other factors 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 sensible to establish a list of qualifications that your chosen school must have. But before we delve into our due diligence checklist, let’s talk a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welding Degree and Certificate Training Programs
There are a number of options to get training as a welder in a trade or vocational school. You can earn a diploma, a certificate or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are offered in Welding Technology or Welding Engineering, but are more advanced courses than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available combined with an apprenticeship program. Following are short summaries of the most prevalent welding programs available in the Northport AL.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are generally made available by trade and technical schools and require about one year to complete. They are more hands-on training in scope, fashioned primarily to develop welding skills. They can furnish a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or specialized skills for experienced welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take two years to complete and are most often offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology offers a more well-rounded education than the certificate or diploma while still providing the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
Some states and municipalities do have licensing prerequisites for welders, so don’t forget to find out for your location of potential employment. As needed, the welding school you choose should prep you for any licensing exams that you will need to take in addition to furnishing the suitable training to become a professional welder.
Welder Certification Alternatives
There are multiple organizations that provide welder certifications, which assess the knowledge and skill level of those applying. Many Northport AL employers not only expect a certificate or degree from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a highly regarded organization like the American Welding Society (AWS). A variety of certifications are offered based on the kind of work that the welder performs. Some of the skills that certification can attest to are the welder’s ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specific metal thicknesses
- Work with various kinds of welds
- Work in compliance with 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 different types of work. Certification is also a means to prove to employers that you are an exceptionally skilled and experienced welder. So similarly as with licensing, look into the requirements for your location and make certain that the welder trade school you select prepares you for certification as needed.
Points to Ask Welding Trade Schools
Once you have decided on the credential you want to attain, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can start to compare schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are numerous welder trade and technical schools in the Northport AL area. That’s why it’s essential to establish up front what qualifications your selected school must have. We have previously discussed 2 important ones that many people look at first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As mentioned, although they are essential qualifications, they are not the only ones that should be looked at. After all, the program you decide on is going to furnish the instruction that will be the foundation of your new career as a welder. So following are more factors you might need to evaluate before choosing a welding vocational school.
Accreditation. It’s essential that the welding vocational school you choose is accredited by either a regional or a national organization. There are two standard types 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 verify that the program you choose is accredited, not just the school alone. Also, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, like the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping ensure that you receive an excellent education, the accreditation can also assist in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases not offered in Northport 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 as well.
Job Placement and Apprenticeship Programs. Many welder degree or certificate programs are offered combined with an apprenticeship program. Some other schools will assist in placing you in a job or an apprenticeship after graduation. Find out if the schools you are considering help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. The schools should have relationships with local unions and various metal working businesses to which they can refer their students. More established schools may have a larger network of graduates that they can utilize for placements. These programs can help students find employment and develop associations within the Northport AL welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that start an educational program and complete it. It’s important that the welder program you pick has a high completion rate. A low rate could indicate that the students who joined the program were unhappy with the training, 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 school has an excellent reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of Northport AL employer relationships to help students secure apprenticeships or employment after graduation.
Modern Equipment and Facilities. After you have decreased your choice of welding programs to 2 or 3 possibilities, you should think out going to the campuses to look over their facilities. Make sure 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 using in the field. 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 Northport AL welding professional if they can give you some suggestions.
School Location. Although we previously briefly talked about the significance of location, there are a couple of additional issues that we should cover. You should keep in mind that unless you are able to relocate, the welder school you pick must be within commuting distance of your Northport AL home. If you do decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides moving expenses there may be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially the case for welder diploma programs offered by community colleges. Furthermore, if the school provides an apprenticeship or job placement program, often 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 ultimately will desire to work.
Smaller Classes. Personalized instruction is essential for a hands-on trade such as welding. It’s possible to be overlooked in larger classes and not obtain much personalized training. Find out what the average class size is for the welding schools you are reviewing. Ask if you can attend a few classes so that you can experience how much personal attention the students are receiving. While there, speak with several of the students and get their evaluations. Similarly, chat with a few of the trainers and find out what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they have earned.
Convenient Class Schedules. Lots of folks learn a new profession while still employed at their present job. Confirm that the class schedules for the schools you are considering are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Northport AL, verify that the schools you are reviewing provide those choices. 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 due to work, illness or family circumstances.
Online Welder Training Programs
Welding is very much a hands-on type of profession, and for that reason not very compatible with online training. Having said that, there are a few online welding classes offered by specific community colleges and vocational schools in the greater Northport AL area that may be credited toward a certificate or degree program. These classes mainly deal with such subjects as safety, reading blueprints, and metallurgy. They can help provide a beginner a foundation to initiate their education and training. However, the most significant point is that you can’t learn how to weld or use welding materials until you actually do it. Naturally that can’t be performed online. These skills have 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 possibly attain a more advanced degree. So if you should discover an online welding certificate or degree program, be extremely cautious and verify that the greater part of the training is done on campus or in a workshop type of environment.
Attending a Welding School in Northport AL?
If you have decided to enroll in a welder training program in the Northport Alabama area, you may find the following information both informative and helpful about the location of your new school campus.
Northport is a city in Tuscaloosa County in the west central part of the State of Alabama. Located on the Black Warrior River across from downtown Tuscaloosa, it is currently the 21st largest city in Alabama with an estimated population of 24,497 in 2013. It incorporated in 1871. It is part of the Tuscaloosa Metropolitan Statistical Area.
As Northport is adjacent to the larger city of Tuscaloosa, many residents work in Tuscaloosa or other parts of Tuscaloosa County. Although the two cities share a land boundary, much of their boundary (and historically all of the boundary) is the Black Warrior River.
As of the census of 2000, there were 19,435 people, 7,844 households, and 5,255 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,328.3 people per square mile (512.9/km²). There were 8,509 housing units at an average density of 581.6 per square mile (224.6/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 71.11% White, 26.03% Black or African American, 0.19% Native American, 0.80% Asian, 0.15% Pacific Islander, 1.02% from other races, and 0.70% from two or more races. 1.92% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
Select the Ideal Welding Tech Program Northport AL
Picking the ideal welding school will probably be the most critical decision you will make to start your new trade. You originally stopped by our website because you had an interest in MIG Welding Lessons. However, as we have covered in this article, there are a number of things that you will need to evaluate and compare between the programs you are looking at. It’s a necessity that any welding training program that you are evaluating includes a considerable amount of hands-on instruction. Classes should be small in size and every student must have their personal welding machine to train with. Classroom instruction should offer a real-world frame of reference, and the course of study should be current and conform with industry standards. Courses vary in length and the kind of credential provided, so you will have to ascertain what length of program and certificate or degree will best serve your needs. Each program provides unique possibilities for certification as well. Probably the best means to research your short list of schools is to go to each campus and talk with the faculty and students. Invest some time to monitor some classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the school you decide on is the best one for you. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, the final outcome will be a new trade as a professional welder in Northport AL.