How to Select a Welding Trade School near Ashville Alabama
Selecting the ideal welding trade school near Ashville AL is an essential first step to starting 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 importantly, once you have fine tuned your choices, how do you pick the best one? Most people begin by looking at the schools that are closest to their homes. Once they have identified those that are within commuting distance, they are drawn toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and tuition cost are necessary concerns when evaluating welder trade schools, but they are not the only ones. Other factors 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 prudent to establish a list of qualifications that your selected school must have. But before we delve into our due diligence checklist, let’s talk a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welder Certificate and Degree Training Programs
There are a number of options to obtain training as a welder in a trade or technical school. You can earn a a certificate, a diploma or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are offered in Welding Engineering or Welding Technology, but are more advanced degrees than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available combined with an apprenticeship program. Below are short summaries of the most common welding programs available near Ashville AL.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are usually offered by Ashville AL area trade and technical schools and take 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 supplemental skills for experienced welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take two years to finish and are most often offered by Alabama 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 requirements for welders, therefore don’t forget to check for your location of future employment. If needed, the welding school you select should prepare you for any licensing examinations that you will need to pass in addition to supplying the proper training to become a qualified welder in Ashville AL.
Welding Certification Alternatives
There are various organizations that offer welding certifications, which assess the skill level and knowledge of those applying. A large number of Ashville AL employers not only require a degree or certificate from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a renowned organization such as the American Welding Society (AWS). A variety of certifications are offered based upon the type of work that the welder does. Just some of the things 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 types of welds
- Operate according to contract specifications
As already stated, some cities, states or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those mandating licensing, some additionally require certification for different types of work. Certification is also a means to prove to Ashville AL employers that you are a highly skilled and knowledgeable welder. So similarly as with licensing, look into the requirements for your location and make sure that the welder tech school you select preps you for certification as needed.
Online Welder Classes
Welding is truly a manual type of profession, and consequently not very compatible with online training. Even so, there are a small number of online welding programs offered by specific community colleges and trade schools that may count toward a degree or certificate program. These courses primarily deal with such subjects as safety, reading blueprints, and metallurgy. They can help provide a novice a basis to begin their training and education. Nevertheless, the most important point is that you can’t learn how to weld or work with welding materials unless you actually do it. Naturally that can’t be accomplished online. These skills must be learned in an on-campus environment or in an apprenticeship near Ashville AL. Online or distance learning is better suited for seasoned welders that desire to advance their expertise or possibly obtain a more advanced degree. So if you should discover an online welding degree or certificate program, be extremely careful and verify that the bulk of the training is done on campus or in a workshop type of environment.
How to Select a Welder Technical Program
As soon as you have decided on the credential you would like to earn, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can begin to evaluate schools. As you probably know, there are numerous welder trade and technical schools in the Ashville AL area. That’s why it’s essential to determine in advance what qualifications your selected school must have. We have previously covered a couple of important ones that most people look at first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As stated, although they are essential qualifiers, they are not the only ones that need to be considered. After all, the school you select is going to provide the education that will be the foundation of your new vocation as a welder. So below are some additional factors you may need to evaluate before choosing a welding technical school.
Accreditation. It’s essential that the Ashville AL welder vocational school you pick is accredited by either a national or a regional organization. There are two standard kinds 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, 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 acknowledged accrediting organization, such as the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping make sure that you obtain a quality education, the accreditation can also help in getting financial aid or student loans, which are often not available for schools that are not accredited. Also, for those states or local governments that require licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited as well.
Apprenticeship and Job Assistance Programs. Many welding diploma or degree programs are provided in conjunction 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 looking at help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. These schools should have associations with local unions and various Ashville AL 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 referrals. These programs can help students find employment and develop relationships within the regional welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that start an academic program and finish it. It’s important that the welder program you choose has a high completion rate. A low rate may signify that the students who were in the program were dissatisfied with the training, the instructors, or the facilities, and quit. The job placement rate is also an indication of the caliber of training. A higher job placement rate will not only verify that the school has a good reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of Ashville AL contacts to assist students obtain employment or apprenticeships after graduation.
Up-to-date Facilities and Equipment. After you have narrowed down your choice of welding schools to two or three possibilities, you should think out going to the campuses to look over their facilities. Verify that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are modern. Specifically, the training equipment should be comparable to what you will be working with on the job. If you are unsure 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 Ashville AL welding contractor if they can give you a few pointers.
School Location. Although we previously briefly covered the significance of location, there are a couple of additional issues that we should address. You should remember that unless you have the ability to move, the welding program you select needs to be within commuting distance of your Ashville AL home. If you do decide to attend an out-of-state school, apart from relocation expenses there could be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly the case for welding degree programs offered by community colleges. Additionally, if the school offers a job placement or apprenticeship program, more than likely their placements are within the school’s regional community. So the location of the school should be in a region or state where you ultimately will wish to work.
Small Classes. Personalized instruction is essential for a manual trade such as welding. It’s easy to be lost in bigger classes and not receive much personalized instruction. Ask what the typical class size is for the welding schools you are reviewing. Ask if you can attend some classes so that you can see how much individual attention the students are getting. While there, talk with a few of the students and get their opinions. Similarly, talk to some of the trainers and find out what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they hold.
Flexible Class Scheduling. Some people learn a new trade while still employed at their current job. Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are looking at are convenient enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Ashville AL, make certain that the schools you are assessing offer those options. If you can only enroll part-time, make sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, check to see what the protocol is to make up classes should you miss any due to illness, work or family responsibilities.
Being a Welder in Ashville AL
Ashville is a city in St. Clair County, Alabama, United States. Its population was 2,212 at the 2010 census, down from 2,260, at which time it was a town. Ashville is the county seat of St. Clair County along with Pell City. It incorporated in 1822.
The climate in this area is characterized by hot, humid summers and generally mild to cool winters. According to the Köppen climate classification system, Ashville has a humid subtropical climate, abbreviated "Cfa" on climate maps. 
As of the census of 2000, there were 2,260 people, 814 households, and 608 families residing in the town. The population density was 116.9 people per square mile (45.1/km2). There were 905 housing units at an average density of 46.8 per square mile (18.1/km2). The racial makeup of the town was 69.42% White, 26.55% Black or African American, 0.18% Native American, 0.18% Asian, 0.31% Pacific Islander, 1.81% from other races, and 1.55% from two or more races. 2.88% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There were 814 households out of which 37.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 56.6% were married couples living together, 14.1% had a female householder with no husband present, and 25.2% were non-families. 22.7% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.64 and the average family size was 3.10.
Choose the Right Welding Trade Program Ashville AL
Selecting the right welder training program will probably be the most important decision you will make to start your new career. As we have addressed in this article, there are a number of factors that you will need to examine and compare between the programs you are looking at. It’s a necessity that any welding training program that you are evaluating includes a good deal of hands-on training. Classes need to be small in size and every student should have their personal welding machine to train with. Classroom teaching should offer a real-world perspective, and the curriculum should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Programs vary in duration and the kind of credential offered, so you will have to determine what length of program and degree or certificate will best fulfill your needs. Each training program offers different possibilities for certification as well. Perhaps The ideal way to research your short list of schools is to go to each campus and speak with the teachers and students. Take the time to monitor a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the program you choose is the best one for you. With the proper training, hard work and dedication, the end result will be a new trade as a professional welder in Ashville AL.