How to Choose a Welder Certification Class near Selma Alabama
Selecting the right welder school near Selma AL is an important first step to beginning your new career as a professional welder. But since there are so many schools to pick from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more notably, once you have narrowed down your choices, how do you select the best one? Most prospective students begin by checking out the schools that are nearest to their residences. Once they have located those that are within driving distance, they are drawn toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and tuition cost are important issues when reviewing welding technical schools, but they are not the only ones. Other concerns include such things as accreditation, reputation and job placement rates. So before starting your search for a vocational school to become a welder, it’s wise to establish a list of qualifications that your chosen school must have. But before we examine our due diligence checklist, let’s cover a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welder Degree and Certificate Training Classes
There are a number of options available to obtain training as a welder in a trade or technical school. You can obtain a a certificate, a diploma or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are available in Welding Technology or Welding Engineering, but are more advanced courses than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also offered combined with an apprenticeship program. Following are brief descriptions of the most common welding programs offered near Selma AL.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are generally offered by Selma AL area trade and technical schools and take about 1 year to complete. They are more hands-on training in scope, fashioned mainly to develop 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 Alabama community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology offers a more extensive education than the diploma or certificate while still furnishing the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
A number of municipalities and states do have licensing prerequisites for welders, so make sure to find out for your location of future employment. As needed, the welding school you choose should ready you for any licensing examinations that you will have to pass in addition to supplying the appropriate training to become a professional welder in Selma AL.
Welding Certification Options
There are several institutions that provide welding certifications, which test the knowledge and skill level of those applying. Numerous Selma AL employers not only expect a certificate or degree from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a renowned agency such as the American Welding Society (AWS). A variety of certifications are available based on the type of work that the welder does. Just some of the things that certification can attest to are the welder’s ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specific metal thicknesses
- Work with certain kinds of welds
- Work based on contract specifications
As already stated, some states, cities or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those requiring licensing, a number also require certification for different types of work. Certification is also a way to prove to Selma AL 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 welding tech school you decide on prepares you for certification as needed.
Online Welding Courses
Welding is very much a hands-on type of trade, and for that reason not very compatible with training online. Having said that, there are a small number of online welding programs offered by certain community colleges and vocational schools that can count toward a certificate or degree program. These courses primarily cover such topics as safety, reading blueprints, and metallurgy. They can help provide a novice a foundation to start their training and education. Nevertheless, the most important point is that you can’t learn how to weld or use welding materials unless you actually do it. Clearly that can’t be performed online. These skills need to be learned in an on-campus environment or in an apprenticeship near Selma AL. Online or distance learning is more appropriate for experienced welders that would like to advance their expertise or possibly earn 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 setting.
How to Pick a Welding Vocational Program
When you have decided on the credential you would like to earn, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can start to evaluate schools. As you probably know, there are a large number of welding trade and vocational schools in the Selma AL area. That’s why it’s necessary to decide up front what qualifications your selected school must have. We have previously covered two significant ones that most people look at first, which are location and tuition cost. As mentioned, although they are very important qualifications, 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 profession as a welder. So following are more factors you might need to consider before choosing a welder tech school.
Accreditation. It’s essential that the Selma AL welder trade school you select is accredited by either a regional or a national agency. 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 confirm that the program you choose is accredited, not just the school itself. Additionally, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged 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 might also assist in getting financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable for non-accredited schools. Also, for those states or local governments that require licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited also.
Job Assistance and Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of welder certificate or degree programs are offered combined with an apprenticeship program. Various other schools will assist in placing you in an apprenticeship or a job upon graduation. Find out if the schools you are considering assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. These schools should have relationships with local unions and various Selma AL metal working businesses to which they can place their students. Older schools may have a more substantial network of graduates that they can utilize for placements. These programs can assist students in finding employment and establish relationships within the local welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that enroll in an instructional program and complete it. It’s essential that the welding program you select has a higher completion rate. A reduced rate could signify that the students who enrolled 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 quality of training. A higher job placement rate will not only confirm that the program has an excellent reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of Selma AL contacts to assist students secure employment or apprenticeships after graduation.
Up-to-date Facilities and Equipment. After you have decreased your choice of welding programs to two or three options, you should consider visiting the campuses to inspect their facilities. Confirm that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are up-to-date. In particular, 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. Otherwise, ask a local Selma AL welding contractor if they can give you a few pointers.
School Location. Although we already briefly covered the importance of location, there are a few additional issues that we need to deal with. You should keep in mind that unless you have the ability to move, the welder program you choose needs to be within commuting distance of your Selma AL home. If you do decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there could be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly the case for welder diploma programs offered by community colleges. Also, if the school provides an apprenticeship or job placement program, often their placements are within the school’s regional community. So the location of the school needs to be in a region or state where you subsequently will want to work.
Smaller Classes. Individualized training is important for a hands-on trade such as welding. It’s easy to be lost in bigger classes and not receive much personalized instruction. Find out what the average class size is for the welder programs you are considering. Ask if you can attend a few classes so that you can witness how much individual attention the students are getting. While there, talk with several of the students and get their opinions. Also, speak with some of the trainers and ask what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they have earned.
Convenient Class Scheduling. Lots of folks learn a new profession while still working at their current job. Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are considering are convenient enough to satisfy your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Selma AL, verify that the schools you are reviewing provide those choices. If you can only enroll part-time, make certain that the school you pick offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the protocol is to make up classes if you you miss any because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Being a Welder in Selma AL
Selma is a city in and the county seat of Dallas County, in the Black Belt region of south central Alabama and extending to the west. Located on the banks of the Alabama River, the city has a population of 20,756 as of the 2010 census.
The city is best known for the 1960s Selma Voting Rights Movement and the Selma to Montgomery marches, beginning with "Bloody Sunday" in March 1965 and ending with 25,000 people entering Montgomery at the end of the last march to press for voting rights. This activism generated national attention to social justice and that summer, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was passed by Congress to authorize federal oversight and enforcement of constitutional rights of all citizens.
It had been a trading center and market town during the years of King Cotton in the South. It was also an important armaments manufacturing and iron shipbuilding center during the Civil War, surrounded by miles of earthen fortifications. The Confederate forces were defeated during the Battle of Selma.
Before settlement by European peoples, the area of present-day Selma had been inhabited for thousands of years by varying cultures of indigenous peoples. The Europeans encountered the historic Native American people known as the Muscogee (also known as the Creek), who had been in the area for hundreds of years.
Pick the Ideal Welding Trade School Selma AL
Selecting the right welding school will undoubtedly be the most important decision you will make to start your new trade. As we have addressed in this article, there are many factors that you will need to assess and compare between the schools you are looking at. It’s a necessity that any welding training program that you are reviewing includes a good deal of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be smaller in size and every student should have their personal welding machine to train on. Classroom education should provide a real-world context, and the course of study should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Programs vary in duration and the kind of credential provided, so you will need to ascertain what length of program and certificate or degree will best fulfill your needs. Each program offers different options for certification as well. Perhaps the best means to research your final list of schools is to visit each campus and talk with the students and instructors. Invest some time to monitor some classes. Inspect 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, hard work and dedication, the final outcome will be a new occupation as a professional welder in Selma AL.