How to Pick a Welding Certificate Program near Fairhope Alabama
Enrolling in the right welding trade school near Fairhope 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 know which ones to consider? And more importantly, once you have fine tuned your options, how do you pick the right one? A number of people begin by checking out the schools that are nearest to their residences. Once they have located those that are within commuting distance, they are drawn toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and tuition cost are important considerations when evaluating welder technical schools, but they are not the only ones. Other considerations include such things as reputation, accreditation and job placement rates. So before beginning 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 cover a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welding Certificate and Degree Training Courses
There are a number of options available to receive training as a welder in a technical or trade school. You can earn a diploma, a certificate or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are available 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 brief explanations of the most prevalent welding programs offered near Fairhope AL.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are usually made available by Fairhope AL area trade and technical schools and take about a year to finish. They are more hands-on training in scope, fashioned mainly to teach welding skills. They can provide a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or supplemental skills for working welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take 2 years to complete and are usually offered by Alabama community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology provides a more well-rounded education than the certificate or diploma while still supplying the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
A number of municipalities and states do have licensing requirements for welders, so don’t forget to find out for your location of future employment. As required, the welding school you pick should prepare you for any licensing exams that you will have to pass in addition to providing the proper training to become a professional welder in Fairhope AL.
Welder Certification Alternatives
There are various organizations that offer welding certifications, which assess the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Numerous Fairhope AL employers not only require a certificate or degree from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a respected organization such as the American Welding Society (AWS). Different certifications are available dependent on the kind of work that the welder performs. Just some of the things that certification can attest to are the welder’s ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specified metal thicknesses
- Work with specific kinds of welds
- Work according to contract specifications
As previously stated, many cities, states or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those requiring licensing, many also require certification for various kinds of work. Certification is also a means to prove to Fairhope AL employers that you are a highly skilled and qualified welder. So just as with licensing, check the requirements for your local area and make certain that the welder trade school you decide on prepares you for certification if needed.
Online Welder Degree and Certificate Programs
Welding is very much a manual type of vocation, and consequently not very suitable for training online. However, there are a small number of online welding courses offered by specific community colleges and technical schools that can be credited toward a degree or certificate program. These classes primarily deal with such topics as safety, reading blueprints, and metallurgy. They can help provide a beginner a foundation to initiate their education and training. Nevertheless, the most important point is that you can’t learn how to weld or work with welding materials unless you actually do it. Obviously that can’t be accomplished online. These skills must be learned in an on-campus environment or in an apprenticeship near Fairhope AL. Online or distance learning is more appropriate for experienced welders that desire to advance their expertise or possibly earn a more advanced degree. So if you should find an online welding certificate or degree program, be extremely careful and make sure that the larger part of the training is done on campus or in a workshop type of environment.
How to Select a Welding Vocational School
When you have chosen the credential you would like to obtain, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can start to evaluate schools. As you probably know, there are many welder trade and technical schools in the Fairhope AL area. That’s why it’s essential to determine in advance what qualifications your selected school must have. We have previously covered two important ones that most people consider first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As mentioned, although they are very important qualifiers, they are not the only ones that need to be considered. After all, the school you select 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 welder trade school.
Accreditation. It’s very important that the Fairhope AL welding technical school you choose is accredited by either a regional or a national agency. There are 2 basic kinds of accreditation. The school may receive Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on an individual program the school offers, for example Welding Technology. So make certain that the program you select is accredited, not just the school alone. Also, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, like the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). In addition to helping make sure that you get an excellent education, the accreditation can also help in getting financial assistance or student loans, which are often not available 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.
Apprenticeship and Job Placement Programs. A large number of welder degree or diploma programs are provided combined with an apprenticeship program. Some other schools will help place you in an apprenticeship or a job after graduation. Ask if the schools you are considering assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. These schools must have relationships with local unions and other Fairhope AL metal working businesses to which they can refer their students. More established schools may have a larger network of graduates that they can rely upon for placements. These programs can help students find employment and establish relationships within the local welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that enroll in an academic program and complete it. It’s essential that the welding program you pick has a high completion rate. A low rate may signify that the students who were in the program were dissatisfied with the instruction, the teachers, or the facilities, and dropped out. The job placement rate is also an indication of the caliber of training. A high job placement rate will not only affirm that the school has a good reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of Fairhope AL employer relationships to help students secure apprenticeships or employment after graduation.
Up-to-date Facilities and Equipment. After you have narrowed down your selection of welder schools to two or three options, you should consider visiting the campuses to look over their facilities. Make sure that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are up-to-date. In particular, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be working with 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. Otherwise, ask a local Fairhope AL welding contractor if they can give you some pointers.
School Location. Even though we previously briefly discussed the relevance of location, there are a few additional points that we should deal with. You should keep in mind that unless you can move, the welder program you pick needs to be within commuting distance of your Fairhope AL home. If you do decide to attend an out-of-state school, apart from moving costs there may be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially true for welding certificate programs offered by community colleges. Furthermore, if the school offers a job placement or apprenticeship program, more than likely their placements are within the school’s local community. So the location of the school should be in an area or state where you subsequently will wish to work.
Small 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 instruction. Ask what the usual class size is for the welder programs you are looking at. Ask if you can sit in on a few classes so that you can experience how much individual attention the students are receiving. While there, talk with several of the students and get their evaluations. Also, talk with some of the instructors and ask what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they hold.
Convenient Class Scheduling. Lots of folks learn a new profession while still employed at their current job. Confirm that the class schedules for the schools you are reviewing are flexible enough to satisfy your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Fairhope AL, confirm that the schools you are considering offer those choices. If you can only attend part-time, make certain that the school you choose offers part-time enrollment. Also, check to see what the protocol is to make up classes if you you miss any due to work, illness or family circumstances.
Being a Welder in Fairhope AL
Fairhope is a city in Baldwin County, Alabama, United States, on a sloping plateau, along the cliffs and shoreline of Mobile Bay. The 2010 census lists the population of the city as 15,326. Fairhope is a principal city of the Daphne-Fairhope-Foley micropolitan area, which includes all of Baldwin County. In 2016, Fairhope was named the best small town in the South by Southern Living magazine.
Fairhope was founded in November 1894 on the site of the former Alabama City as a radical Georgist "Single-Tax" colony by the Fairhope Industrial Association, a group of 28 followers of economist Henry George who had incorporated earlier that year in Des Moines, Iowa. Their corporate constitution explained their purpose in founding a new colony:
In forming their demonstration project, they pooled their funds to purchase land at "Stapleton's pasture" on the eastern shore of Mobile Bay and then divided it into a number of long-term leaseholds. The corporation paid all governmental taxes from rents paid by the lessees, thus simulating a single-tax. The purpose of the single-tax colony was to eliminate disincentives for productive use of land and thereby retain the value of land for the community.
In 1907 educator Marietta Johnson founded the School for Organic Education in Fairhope. The school was praised in John Dewey's influential 1915 book Schools of Tomorrow. Dewey and Johnson were founding members of the Progressive Education Association.
Pick the Best Welding Trade Program Fairhope AL
Selecting the ideal welding training program will undoubtedly be the most important decision you will make to begin your new profession. As we have addressed in this article, there are several factors that you will need to examine and compare among the schools you are reviewing. It’s a must that any welder training program that you are examining 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 on. Classroom instruction should provide a real-world perspective, and the training program should be current and in-line with industry standards. Training programs differ in duration and the type of credential provided, so you will have to decide what length of program and degree or certificate will best fulfill your needs. Each program offers different possibilities for certification also. Perhaps The ideal way to research your short list of schools is to check out each campus and speak with the faculty and students. Invest some time to monitor some classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the program you pick is the best one for you. With the right training, effort and dedication, the final result will be a new trade as a professional welder in Fairhope AL.