How to Pick a Welder Training Class near Sheffield Alabama
Finding the right welder vocational school near Sheffield AL is an essential first step to launching your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are so many schools to select from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more notably, once you have narrowed down your options, how do you select the best one? Most prospective students start by checking out the schools that are closest to their homes. When they have identified those that are within driving distance, they gravitate toward the least costly one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are important considerations when reviewing welder vocational schools, but they are not the only ones. Other concerns 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 establish a list of qualifications that your selected school must have. But before we delve into our due diligence checklist, let’s cover a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welding Degree and Certificate Training
There are several alternatives available to get training as a welder in a trade or vocational school. You can earn a a certificate, a diploma or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are offered in Welding Technology or Welding Engineering, but are more advanced degrees than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Below are brief explanations of the most common welding programs offered near Sheffield AL.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are normally made available by Sheffield AL area technical and trade schools and take about a year to complete. They are more hands-on training in nature, designed primarily to teach welding skills. They can provide a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or additional 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 provides a more well-rounded education than the diploma or certificate while still supplying the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
A number of municipalities and states do have licensing requirements for welders, therefore make sure to find out for your location of future employment. If needed, the welding school you pick should ready you for any licensing examinations that you will have to take in addition to providing the proper training to become a professional welder in Sheffield AL.
Welding Certification Choices
There are various institutions that offer welding certifications, which assess the knowledge and skill level of those applying. Many Sheffield AL employers not only require a degree or certificate from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a highly regarded organization like the American Welding Society (AWS). A wide range of certifications are offered based upon the type of work that the welder does. A few of the things that certification can acknowledge are the welder’s ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with certain metal thicknesses
- Work with certain types of welds
- Work according to contract specifications
As previously mentioned, many states, cities or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those requiring licensing, many additionally require certification for different types of work. Certification is also a way to demonstrate to Sheffield AL employers that you are an extremely skilled and knowledgeable welder. So just as with licensing, check the requirements for your local area and make certain that the welding vocational school you choose prepares you for certification if needed.
Online Welder Training Programs
Welding is very much a hands-on type of profession, and consequently not very suitable for training online. However, there are a small number of online welding programs offered by various community colleges and trade schools that may be credited toward a degree or certificate program. These classes mainly cover such subjects as reading blueprints, safety,, and metallurgy. They can help give a novice a foundation to start their education and training. Nevertheless, the most significant point is that you can’t learn how to weld or handle welding materials unless you actually do it. Naturally that can’t be accomplished online. These skills have to be learned in an on-campus setting or in an apprenticeship near Sheffield AL. Online or distance learning is more appropriate for experienced welders that desire to advance their knowledge or possibly earn a more advanced degree. So if you should discover an online welding certificate or degree program, be very careful and make sure that the larger part of the training is done on campus or in a workshop type of setting.
How to Select a Welding Vocational School
After you have chosen the credential you want to attain, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can begin to evaluate schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are numerous welding trade and technical schools in the Sheffield AL area. That’s why it’s necessary to decide up front what qualifications your chosen school must have. We have already covered a couple of important ones that many people look at first, which are location and tuition cost. As stated, although they are very important qualifiers, they are not the only ones that need to be considered. After all, the program you pick is going to furnish the instruction that will be the foundation of your new career as a welder. So following are more factors you may want to consider before selecting a welding technical school.
Accreditation. It’s extremely important that the Sheffield AL welder technical school you choose is accredited by either a national or a regional 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 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 agency, like the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping make sure that you receive a quality education, the accreditation may also assist in securing financial aid or student loans, which are often unavailable for schools that are not accredited. Finally, for those states or local governments that require licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited also.
Apprenticeship and Job Assistance Programs. A large number of welder degree or diploma programs are provided in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Various 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 should have associations with local unions and other Sheffield 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 referrals. These programs can assist students in finding employment and establish 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 crucial that the welding school you pick has a higher completion rate. A lower rate could mean that the students who were in the program were dissatisfied with the instruction, the instructors, or the facilities, and quit. The job placement rate is also a good indicator of the caliber of training. A higher job placement rate will not only verify that the school has a good reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of Sheffield AL contacts to help students secure employment or apprenticeships after graduation.
Up-to-date Equipment and Facilities. After you have decreased your choice of welding schools to 2 or 3 possibilities, you should consider going to the campuses to evaluate their facilities. Make sure that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be instructed on are up-to-date. Specifically, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be working with in the field. If you are unsure what to look for, and are currently in an apprenticeship program, ask the master welder you are working under for guidance. If not, ask a local Sheffield AL welding professional if they can give you a few tips.
School Location. Although we already briefly discussed the importance of location, there are a few additional issues that we should deal with. You should remember that unless you have the ability to relocate, the welder program you select must be within driving distance of your Sheffield AL home. If you do choose to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to moving expenses there could 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, more than likely 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 possible to be overlooked in larger classes and not receive much one-on-one instruction. Find out what the usual class size is for the welding schools you are considering. Inquire if you can sit in on a few classes so that you can experience just how much individual attention the students are receiving. While there, speak with several of the students and get their feedback. Similarly, speak with a couple of the instructors and ask what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they hold.
Flexible Class Scheduling. Some people learn a new profession while still employed at their present job. Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are flexible enough to satisfy your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Sheffield AL, confirm that the schools you are assessing provide those alternatives. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, confirm that the school you choose offers part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the protocol is to make up classes if you you miss any due to work, sickness or family circumstances.
Being a Welder in Sheffield AL
Sheffield is a city in Colbert County, Alabama, United States, and is included in the Shoals metropolitan area. As of the 2010 census, the population of the city was 9,039. Sheffield is the birthplace of "country-soul pioneer" and songwriter Arthur Alexander, French horn player Willie Ruff, notable attorney, actor, former senator and presidential contender Fred Thompson, Watergate committee U.S. Senator Howell Heflin and U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell, whose father was working in nearby Athens when he was born. It sometimes is referred to as "the City of Senators" due to the births of Heflin, McConnell and Thompson within its borders. Col. Harland Sanders worked in the Sheffield depot for Southern Railway in the 1900s. It is also home to the Muscle Shoals Sound Studio where many popular 20th century musicians recorded their work, including Alexander and Ruff. It is the site of historic Helen Keller Hospital, formerly known as Colbert County Hospital and originally constructed in 1921. It was changed to Helen Keller Hospital in 1979, and Keller's birthplace Ivy Green is located less than one mile southwest of the hospital in adjacent Tuscumbia.
Sheffield is located in eastern Colbert County at 34°45′35″N 87°41′41″W / 34.75972°N 87.69472°W / 34.75972; -87.69472 (34.759721, -87.694592), on the south bank of the Tennessee River. Sheffield is bordered to the south by the city of Tuscumbia, to the southeast by Muscle Shoals, and to the north, across the river, by Florence.
Sheffield was one of the Colbert County sites of embarkation by riverboat and barge on the Tennessee River during the forced relocation of Eastern and Southern United States Indian tribes, known as the Trail of Tears. The embarkation site was at what is now the Spring Creek boat launch and park area.
Sheffield was the home of Muscle Shoals Sound Studios at 3614 Jackson Highway and later at 1000 Alabama Avenue. Cher, The Rolling Stones, The Osmonds, Aretha Franklin, Bob Seger, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Simon & Garfunkel, The Staple Singers and many others recorded the biggest hits of their careers in this small studio, that remains well known and respected throughout the music industry.
Choose the Best Welding Vocational School Sheffield AL
Selecting the right welder school will undoubtedly be the most critical decision you will make to start your new profession. As we have covered in this article, there are several things that you will need to evaluate and compare between the programs you are looking at. It’s a prerequisite that any welding training that you are considering includes a considerable amount of hands-on instruction. Classes should be smaller in size and each student must have their personal welding machine to train with. Classroom teaching should provide a real-world context, and the curriculum should be current and in-line with industry standards. Programs differ in length and the type of credential provided, so you will need to determine what length of program and credential will best fulfill your needs. Every training program provides different options for certification as well. Perhaps The ideal way to research your short list of schools is to visit each campus and talk with the students and faculty. Invest some time to attend some classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the program you decide on is the ideal one for you. With the right training, effort and dedication, the end outcome will be a new career as a professional welder in Sheffield AL.