How to Choose a Welding Technical School near Spanish Fort Alabama
Finding the right welder vocational school near Spanish Fort AL is an essential first step to beginning your new career 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 narrowed down your choices, how do you select the best one? A number of people start by reviewing the schools that are closest to their homes. When they have located those that are within driving distance, they gravitate toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are crucial considerations when reviewing welding technical schools, but they are not the only ones. Other concerns include such things as reputation, accreditation and job placement rates. So before starting your search for a vocational school to become a welder, it’s sensible to develop a list of qualifications that your chosen school must have. But before we examine our due diligence checklist, let’s talk a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welder Degree and Certificate Training
There are multiple options to receive training as a welder in a trade or vocational school. You can receive 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 offered along with an apprenticeship program. Below are brief explanations of the most common welding programs available near Spanish Fort AL.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are normally made available by Spanish Fort AL area trade and technical schools and require about a year to complete. They are more hands-on training in nature, fashioned primarily to teach welding skills. They can provide a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or specialized skills for working welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take 2 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 furnishing the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
A number of states and municipalities do have licensing requirements for welders, so be sure to find out for your location of potential employment. As required, the welder school you pick should prep you for any licensing exams that you will have to take in addition to providing the suitable training to become a qualified welder in Spanish Fort AL.
Welding Certification Alternatives
There are several institutions that offer welder certifications, which test the knowledge and skill level of those applying. A large number of Spanish Fort 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 offered based on the kind of work that the welder performs. A few of the skills that certification can acknowledge are the welder’s ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with certain metal thicknesses
- Work with specific types of welds
- Operate based on contract specifications
As previously mentioned, many states, cities or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those calling for licensing, some additionally require certification for various kinds of work. Certification is also a means to prove to Spanish Fort AL employers that you are an extremely skilled and experienced welder. So similarly as with licensing, check the requirements for your location and verify that the welder technical school you decide on prepares you for certification if needed.
Online Welding Schools
Welding is truly a hands-on type of vocation, and therefore not very compatible with training online. Even so, there are some online welding classes offered by specific community colleges and vocational schools that may count toward a degree or certificate program. These courses primarily deal with such topics as reading blueprints, safety,, and metallurgy. They can help provide a novice a basis to start their education and training. However, the most critical point is that you can’t learn how to weld or use welding materials until you actually do it. Clearly that can’t be accomplished online. These skills must be learned in an on-campus setting or in an apprenticeship near Spanish Fort AL. Online or distance learning is more appropriate for experienced welders that desire to advance their knowledge or perhaps attain a more advanced degree. So if you should find an online welding certificate or degree program, be extremely cautious and make certain that the majority of the training is done on campus or in a workshop type of setting.
How to Pick a Welder Tech Program
As soon as you have decided on the credential you would like to earn, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can begin to assess schools. As you probably know, there are numerous welding trade and technical schools in the Spanish Fort AL area. That’s why it’s essential to establish up front what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have previously covered a couple of important ones that most people consider first, which are location and tuition cost. As mentioned, although they are essential qualifications, they are not the only ones that must be looked at. After all, the program you select is going to provide the education that will be the foundation of your new career as a welder. So below are more factors you might want to consider before selecting a welding trade school.
Accreditation. It’s extremely important that the Spanish Fort AL welding vocational school you choose is accredited by either a national or a regional agency. There are 2 basic types 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 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, for example the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping ensure that you obtain a quality education, the accreditation may also help in getting financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases not available for schools that are not accredited. Finally, for those states or municipalities that require licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited as well.
Apprenticeship and Job Assistance Programs. A large number of welder degree or certificate programs are provided combined with an apprenticeship program. Some other schools will help place you in a job or an apprenticeship upon graduation. Ask if the schools you are looking at assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. These schools must have associations with local unions and various Spanish Fort AL metal working businesses to which they can refer their students. Older schools may have a larger network of graduates that they can utilize for referrals. These programs can help students find employment and develop associations within the local welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that start an educational program and finish it. It’s essential that the welder program you choose has a high completion rate. A lower rate could signify that the students who joined the program were unhappy with the training, the teachers, or the facilities, and quit. The job placement rate is also a good indicator of the quality of training. A high job placement rate will not only affirm that the program has a good reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of Spanish Fort AL employer relationships to assist students secure employment or apprenticeships after graduation.
Modern Facilities and Equipment. After you have decreased your choice of welding programs to two or three possibilities, you should think out visiting the campuses to inspect their facilities. Confirm that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are modern. Specifically, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be using 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 Spanish Fort AL welding professional if they can give you some suggestions.
School Location. Even though we previously briefly discussed the relevance of location, there are a few additional issues that we should address. You should remember that unless you are able to relocate, the welder program you select needs to be within commuting distance of your Spanish Fort AL home. If you do decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides relocation expenses there may be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially the case for welder degree 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 local community. So the location of the school needs to be in a region or state where you ultimately will want to work.
Smaller Classes. Individualized training is essential for a manual trade such as welding. It’s possible to be overlooked in larger classes and not receive much personalized training. Find out what the average class size is for the welding programs you are considering. Inquire if you can sit in on some classes so that you can see just how much individual attention the students are receiving. While there, talk with several of the students and get their evaluations. Similarly, talk to a few of the trainers and ask what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they hold.
Flexible Class Scheduling. Lots of folks learn a new trade while still working at their current job. Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are convenient enough to meet your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Spanish Fort AL, confirm that the schools you are assessing provide those options. If you can only attend part-time, make certain that the school you pick offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the policy is to make up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family circumstances.
Being a Welder in Spanish Fort AL
Spanish Fort, Alabama
Spanish Fort is a city in Baldwin County, Alabama, United States, located on the eastern shore of Mobile Bay. The 2010 census lists the population of the city as 6,798. It is a suburb of Mobile and is part of the Daphne-Fairhope-Foley micropolitan area.
In November 2012, Spanish Fort built a community center to house its administrative offices and city amenities. The center is home to the city library, administrative offices, the office of the mayor, and other city-run services. The municipal complex is roughly 30,000 square feet and cost around $5 million to build. It sits on 17-acres of prime land and features a large pond with two fountains and a pavilion. The city also hosts community outreach events along with city council and budget meetings.
Spanish Fort is located at 30°40'7.403" North, 87°55'19.844" West (30.668723, -87.922179), above the east shore of the Blakeley River where it enters Mobile Bay. U.S. Routes 90 and 98 (Battleship Parkway) lead west across the Mobile River and its distributaries 9 miles (14 km) to Mobile. Interstate 10 passes just to the south of Spanish Fort, with access from exits 35 and 38, and leads west across Mobile Bay to Mobile as well.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Spanish Fort has a total area of 33.4 square miles (86.5 km2), of which 28.7 square miles (74.3 km2) is land and 4.7 square miles (12.2 km2), or 14.08%, is water.
Select the Right Welding Tech Program Spanish Fort AL
Selecting the ideal welding training program will probably be the most important decision you will make to start your new trade. 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 necessity that any welder training program that you are evaluating includes a considerable amount of hands-on training. Classes need to be small in size and each student must have their personal welding machine to train with. Classroom instruction should provide a real-world context, and the curriculum should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Training programs differ in length and the type of credential offered, so you will have to ascertain what length of program and certificate or degree will best fulfill your needs. Each program offers different possibilities for certification also. Perhaps The ideal means to research your final list of schools is to visit each campus and speak 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 pick is the best one for you. With the proper training, effort and dedication, the final outcome will be a new occupation as a professional welder in Spanish Fort AL.