How to Find the Right Welding Trade School near Prattville Alabama
Choosing the ideal welding trade school near Prattville AL is an essential first step to beginning your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are a lot of schools to select from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more importantly, once you have fine tuned your alternatives, how do you pick the best one? A number of prospective students begin by looking at the schools that are closest to their residences. When they have located those that are within commuting distance, they gravitate toward the least costly one. Yes, location and tuition cost are important issues when examining welding vocational schools, but they are not the only ones. Other concerns 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 sensible to establish a list of qualifications that your chosen school must have. But before we explore our due diligence checklist, let’s cover a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welder Degree and Certificate Training
There are several alternatives available to receive training as a welder in a trade or technical school. You can receive a a certificate, a diploma or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are available in Welding Engineering or Welding Technology, but are more advanced courses than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Below are short explanations of the most prevalent welding programs available near Prattville AL.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are normally offered by Prattville AL area technical and trade schools and take about one year to finish. They are more hands-on training in scope, 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 two years to finish and are usually offered by Alabama community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology furnishes a more well-rounded education than the certificate or diploma while still furnishing the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
A number of municipalities and states do have licensing prerequisites for welders, therefore don’t forget to find out for your location of potential employment. If required, the welding school you select should prepare you for any licensing examinations that you will need to pass in addition to providing the suitable training to become a professional welder in Prattville AL.
Welder Certification Options
There are a number of institutions that offer welding certifications, which test the knowledge and skill level of those applying. A large number of Prattville AL employers not only require a certificate or degree from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a renowned agency like the American Welding Society (AWS). A variety of certifications are available dependent on the kind of work that the welder does. Some of the skills that certification can attest to are the welder’s ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specified metal thicknesses
- Work with specific kinds of welds
- Operate based on contract specifications
As previously mentioned, various states, cities or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those mandating licensing, a number additionally require certification for various kinds of work. Certification is also a way to prove to Prattville AL employers that you are a highly skilled and experienced welder. So just as with licensing, check the requirements for your local area and make certain that the welder technical school you select preps you for certification as needed.
Online Welder Degree and Certificate Programs
Welding is very much a hands-on type of trade, and therefore not very suitable for training online. Even so, there are a small number of online welding courses offered by certain community colleges and technical schools that may count toward a degree or certificate program. These courses primarily cover such topics as safety, reading blueprints, and metallurgy. They can help give a novice a foundation to start 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. Obviously that can’t be done online. These skills need to be learned in an on-campus setting or in an apprenticeship near Prattville AL. Online or distance learning is better suited for seasoned welders that would like to advance their expertise or perhaps earn a more advanced degree. So if you should discover an online welding certificate or degree program, be very cautious and make sure that the majority of the training is done on campus or in a workshop type of setting.
How to Choose a Welder Tech School
After you have chosen the credential you would like to obtain, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can start to assess schools. As you can imagine, there are many welder trade and vocational schools in the Prattville AL area. That’s why it’s necessary to decide up front what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have already discussed 2 important ones that many people look at first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As mentioned, although they are very important qualifications, they are not the only ones that must be looked at. After all, the program you choose is going to furnish the education that will be the foundation of your new career as a welder. So following are some additional factors you may need to evaluate before picking a welder technical school.
Accreditation. It’s essential that the Prattville AL welding tech school you decide on is accredited by either a regional or a national organization. There are two basic kinds of accreditation. The school may attain Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a single program the school has, for example Welding Technology. So confirm that the program you select is accredited, not just the school alone. Additionally, 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 ensure that you obtain an excellent education, the accreditation might also help in getting financial aid or student loans, which are often unavailable for non-accredited schools. Finally, for those states or municipalities that mandate licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited also.
Job Placement and Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous welder diploma or degree programs are provided combined with an apprenticeship program. Other schools will help place you in a job or an apprenticeship after graduation. Ask if the schools you are looking at help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. These schools must have partnerships with local unions and various Prattville AL metal working businesses to which they can place their students. More established 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 associations within the local welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that enroll in an educational program and complete it. It’s important that the welding school you choose has a high completion rate. A low rate may indicate that the students who joined the program were dissatisfied with the instruction, the instructors, or the facilities, and dropped out. The job placement rate is also an indication of the quality of training. A higher job placement rate will not only affirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of Prattville AL employer relationships to help students obtain apprenticeships or employment upon graduation.
Modern Facilities and Equipment. Once you have limited your choice of welder programs to two or three possibilities, you should think out going to the campuses to look over their facilities. Confirm 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 already in an apprenticeship program, ask the master welder you are working under for guidance. Otherwise, ask a local Prattville AL welding professional if they can give you a few pointers.
School Location. Although we previously briefly discussed the significance of location, there are a few additional points that we need to deal with. You should keep in mind that unless you are able to move, the welder school you choose needs to be within driving distance of your Prattville AL home. If you do decide to attend 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 welding certificate programs offered by community colleges. Furthermore, if the school offers an apprenticeship or job placement program, most likely their placements are within the school’s local community. So the location of the school needs to be in an area or state where you ultimately will wish to work.
Small Classes. Individualized instruction is essential for a manual trade such as welding. It’s easy to be overlooked in bigger classes and not receive much one-on-one instruction. Find out what the usual class size is for the welding programs you are reviewing. Inquire if you can sit in on a couple of classes so that you can see just how much personal attention the students are getting. While there, talk with some of the students and get their opinions. Similarly, talk with a few of the teachers and find out what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they have earned.
Convenient Class Scheduling. Lots of folks learn a new profession while still working at their present job. Check to see that the class schedules for the schools you are reviewing are convenient enough to satisfy your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Prattville AL, verify that the schools you are looking at provide those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, confirm 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 illness, work or family circumstances.
Being a Welder in Prattville AL
Prattville is a city in Autauga and Elmore counties in the State of Alabama. As of the 2010 census, the population of the city is 33,960. Nicknamed "The Fountain City" due to the many artesian wells in the area, Prattville is part of the Montgomery metropolitan statistical area and serves as the county seat of Autauga County.
Prattville was founded in 1839 by industrialist and architect Daniel Pratt. The area was largely inhabited by Native Americans and a few settlers when Pratt, a native of Temple, New Hampshire, first observed the Autauga Creek in the 1830s. He purchased approximately 1,000 acres (4.0 km2) from Joseph May at $21.00 an acre, and set out to build his manufacturing facilities and the town along the banks of Autauga Creek. The location was chosen because the creek could supply power to the cotton gin manufacturing equipment. The town became an industrial center and rapidly grew. In 1868, it was named the county seat for Autauga County.
On February 17, 2008, Prattville was hit by an F3 tornado which destroyed more than 45 homes and businesses and damaged over 700. Twenty-nine people were injured with no fatalities. Preliminary estimates put the damage at $85 million in insured and uninsured damages.
Prattville is located at Coordinates: 32°27′44″N 86°27′41″W / 32.462235°N 86.461264°W / 32.462235; -86.461264 (32.462235, -86.461264). According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 33.8 square miles (88 km2) of which 32.9 square miles (85 km2) is land and 0.9 square miles (2.3 km2) (3.09%) is water.
Choose the Right Welding Trade Program Prattville AL
Selecting the best welder training program will probably be the most important decision you will make to begin your new profession. As we have addressed in this article, there are a number of things that you will need to assess and compare among the programs you are looking at. It’s a necessity that any welder training that you are considering includes a considerable amount of hands-on training. Classes should be small in size and every student should have their own welding machine to train on. Classroom education should offer a real-world context, and the curriculum should be current and conform with industry standards. Training programs differ in length and the type of credential offered, so you will need to decide what length of program and certificate or degree will best serve your needs. Each training program offers different possibilities for certification also. Perhaps the best means to research your final list of schools is to check out each campus and talk with the teachers and students. Take the time to sit in on 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 right training, effort and dedication, the end outcome will be a new trade as a professional welder in Prattville AL.