How to Find the Right Welding Certificate Program near Tuscaloosa Alabama
Choosing the right welding trade school near Tuscaloosa AL is an essential first step to starting your new career as a professional welder. But since there are a lot of schools to pick from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more significantly, once you have fine tuned your choices, how do you pick the right one? Many people begin by checking out the schools that are closest to their homes. When they have located those that are within driving distance, they gravitate toward the least costly one. Yes, location and tuition cost are crucial considerations 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 sensible to establish a list of qualifications that your selected school must have. But before we examine our due diligence checklist, let’s cover a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welding Degree and Certificate Training Programs
There are multiple alternatives available to get training as a welder in a trade or technical 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 combined with an apprenticeship program. Following are brief descriptions of the most common welding programs available near Tuscaloosa AL.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are usually made available by Tuscaloosa AL area technical and trade schools and take about one year to finish. They are more hands-on training in nature, designed mainly 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 2 years to complete and are most often offered by Alabama community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology offers a more well-rounded education than the diploma or certificate while still furnishing the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
Many municipalities and states do have licensing prerequisites for welders, therefore don’t forget to check for your location of future employment. If needed, the welder school you pick should prep you for any licensing examinations that you will have to take in addition to providing the suitable training to become a qualified welder in Tuscaloosa AL.
Welding Certification Options
There are multiple organizations that offer welder certifications, which test the knowledge and skill level of those applying. Many Tuscaloosa AL employers not only demand a certificate or degree from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a respected agency such as the American Welding Society (AWS). A variety of certifications are available dependent 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
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specified metal thicknesses
- Work with certain types of welds
- Work in compliance with contract specifications
As previously stated, various cities, states or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those mandating licensing, a number also require certification for different kinds of work. Certification is also a way to demonstrate to Tuscaloosa AL employers that you are an exceptionally skilled and qualified welder. So similarly as with licensing, check the requirements for your location and verify that the welder technical school you decide on preps you for certification as needed.
Online Welding Classes
Welding is truly a manual kind of vocation, and therefore not very compatible with training online. However, there are a small number of online welding programs offered by certain community colleges and trade schools that may be credited toward a certificate or degree program. These classes mainly cover such subjects as safety, reading blueprints, and metallurgy. They can help provide a novice a foundation to initiate their education and training. Nevertheless, the most important 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 Tuscaloosa AL. Online or distance learning is better suited for experienced 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 extremely careful and confirm that the larger part of the training is done on campus or in a workshop type of environment.
How to Decide on a Welder Vocational Program
When you have decided on the credential you want to attain, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can begin to assess schools. As you can imagine, there are many welder trade and technical schools in the Tuscaloosa AL area. That’s why it’s essential to decide up front what qualifications your selected school must have. We have previously discussed 2 significant ones that many people look at first, which are location and tuition cost. As stated, although they are essential qualifiers, they are not the only ones that need to be considered. After all, the program you pick is going to provide the training that will be the foundation of your new profession as a welder. So below are more factors you might want to evaluate before selecting a welding trade school.
Accreditation. It’s extremely important that the Tuscaloosa AL welding trade school you select is accredited by either a national or a regional organization. There are 2 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 make sure that the program you choose is accredited, not just the school alone. Additionally, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, such as the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping ensure that you receive a superior education, the accreditation might also help in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable for non-accredited schools. Finally, for those states or local governments that mandate licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited as well.
Apprenticeship and Job Assistance Programs. Many welding degree or diploma programs are provided combined with an apprenticeship program. Other schools will assist in placing 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 Tuscaloosa AL metal working businesses to which they can refer their students. More established schools may have a larger network of graduates that they can utilize for placements. These programs can help students find employment and establish associations within the local welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that enroll in an educational program and finish it. It’s important that the welder school you select has a high completion rate. A reduced rate might signify that the students who enrolled in the program were dissatisfied with the instruction, the instructors, or the facilities, and quit. The job placement rate is also an indication of the quality 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 Tuscaloosa AL employer relationships to assist students obtain apprenticeships or employment upon graduation.
Modern Facilities and Equipment. After you have decreased your selection 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 trained on are modern. In particular, the training equipment should be comparable to what you will be using in the field. If you are not sure what to look for, and are already in an apprenticeship program, consult with the master welder you are working under for guidance. If not, ask a local Tuscaloosa AL welding contractor if they can give you a few suggestions.
School Location. Although we already briefly talked about the significance of location, there are a couple of additional points that we should deal with. You should bear in mind that unless you can move, the welder school you choose needs to be within driving distance of your Tuscaloosa AL home. If you do opt to attend an out-of-state school, besides moving costs there might be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly true for welder degree programs offered by community colleges. Also, if the school offers 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 an area or state where you ultimately will want to work.
Smaller Classes. Personalized instruction is important for a manual trade such as welding. It’s easy to get overlooked in bigger classes and not receive much personalized training. Find out what the average class size is for the welding schools you are considering. Ask if you can sit in on a couple of classes so that you can witness just how much personal attention the students are getting. While there, talk with a few of the students and get their evaluations. Also, chat with a few of the teachers and find out what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they hold.
Convenient Class Schedules. Some people learn a new trade while still employed at their present job. Confirm that the class schedules for the schools you are considering are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Tuscaloosa AL, make certain that the schools you are assessing offer those alternatives. If you can only enroll 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 because of work, sickness or family emergencies.
Being a Welder in Tuscaloosa AL
Tuscaloosa (/tʌskəˈluːsə/ TUS-kə-LOO-sə) is a city in and the seat of Tuscaloosa County in west central Alabama (in the southeastern United States). Located on the Black Warrior River at the Atlantic Seaboard fall line of the Piedmont, it is the fifth-largest city in Alabama, with an estimated population of 100,287 in 2017.
Incorporated as a town on December 13, 1819, it was named after Tuskaloosa, the chief of a band of Muskogean-speaking people. They battled and were defeated by forces of Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto in 1540 in the Battle of Mabila, thought to have been located in what is now central Alabama. Tuscaloosa served as Alabama's capital city from 1826 to 1846.
Tuscaloosa is the regional center of industry, commerce, healthcare, and education for the area of west-central Alabama known as West Alabama. It is the principal city of the Tuscaloosa Metropolitan Statistical Area, which includes Tuscaloosa, Hale and Pickens counties. In 2013 its estimated metro population was 235,628. Tuscaloosa is also the home of The University of Alabama, Stillman College and Shelton State Community College. While the city attracted international attention when Mercedes-Benz announced it would build its first automotive assembly plant in North America in Tuscaloosa County, the University of Alabama remains the dominant economic and cultural engine in the city.
Tuscaloosa has been traditionally known as the "Druid City" because of the numerous water oaks planted in its downtown streets since the 1840s. The city has become known nationally for the sports successes of the University of Alabama, particularly in football. City leaders adopted the moniker "The City of Champions" after the Alabama Crimson Tide football team won the BCS National Championship in their 2009, 2011, and again in their 2012 seasons. The Tide won the College Football Playoff in the 2015 season and 2017 season.
Select the Best Welding Technical School Tuscaloosa AL
Selecting the ideal welder school will probably be the most critical decision you will make to launch your new trade. As we have addressed in this article, there are many things that you will need to assess and compare between the schools you are considering. It’s a must that any welder training program that you are assessing includes a considerable amount of hands-on instruction. Classes should be small in size and each student should have their personal welding machine to train with. Classroom education should offer a real-world frame of reference, and the training program should be current and in-line with industry standards. Training programs differ in duration and the kind of credential offered, so you will have to decide what length of program and certificate or degree will best satisfy your needs. Every training program offers different possibilities for certification as well. Perhaps the best approach to research your short list of schools is to go to each campus and talk with the faculty and students. Invest some time to monitor a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the program you select is the right one for you. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, the final outcome will be a new trade as a professional welder in Tuscaloosa AL.