How to Enroll In a Welding Certificate Program near Winfield Alabama
Enrolling in the right welder vocational school near Winfield AL is an important first step to starting your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are numerous schools to choose from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more significantly, once you have narrowed down your alternatives, how do you select the right one? Most prospective students begin by looking at the schools that are closest to their homes. When they have located those that are within commuting distance, they gravitate toward the least expensive one. Yes, location and tuition cost are important issues when examining welder vocational 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 trade school to become a welder, it’s prudent to develop 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.
Welder Certificate and Degree Training
There are several options to obtain training as a welder in a technical or trade school. You can receive a a certificate, a diploma or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are offered in Welding Engineering or Welding Technology, but are more advanced programs than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available along with an apprenticeship program. Below are short summaries of the most typical welding programs available near Winfield AL.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are usually offered by Winfield AL area technical and trade schools and take about a year to complete. They are more hands-on training in scope, designed primarily to teach welding skills. They can furnish a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or specialized 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 provides a more extensive education than the diploma or certificate while still supplying the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
Some states and municipalities do have licensing requirements for welders, so don’t forget to check for your location of future employment. As required, the welding school you choose should prepare you for any licensing examinations that you will have to pass in addition to furnishing the appropriate training to become a qualified welder in Winfield AL.
Welder Certification Choices
There are multiple organizations that offer welding certifications, which assess the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Many Winfield AL employers not only expect a certificate or degree from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a respected agency like the American Welding Society (AWS). A wide range of certifications are available dependent on the kind of work that the welder performs. Just some of the skills that certification can attest to are the welder’s ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specific metal thicknesses
- Work with various kinds of welds
- Work in compliance with contract specifications
As previously mentioned, many cities, states or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those requiring licensing, many additionally require certification for various kinds of work. Certification is also a means to prove to Winfield AL employers that you are a highly skilled and experienced welder. So similarly as with licensing, look into the requirements for your local area and make sure that the welder trade school you decide on preps you for certification as needed.
Online Welding Certificate and Degree Programs
Welding is truly a manual kind of profession, and for that reason not very compatible with online training. Having said that, there are a small number of online welding classes offered by certain community colleges and trade schools that may be credited toward a certificate or degree program. These classes mainly cover such topics as safety, reading blueprints, and metallurgy. They can help give a beginner a basis to initiate their training and education. However, the most critical point is that you can’t learn how to weld or handle welding materials unless you actually do it. Naturally that can’t be done online. These skills have to be learned in an on-campus setting or in an apprenticeship near Winfield AL. Online or distance learning is better suited for seasoned welders that want to advance their knowledge or possibly obtain a more advanced degree. So if you should discover an online welding degree or certificate program, be very careful and verify that the majority 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 degree, certificate or diploma, you can begin to evaluate schools. As you can imagine, there are a large number of welding trade and vocational schools in the Winfield AL area. That’s why it’s necessary to decide in advance what qualifications your chosen school must have. We have previously covered 2 important ones that many people consider first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As mentioned, although they are essential qualifiers, they are not the only ones that must be considered. After all, the school you choose is going to furnish the instruction that will be the foundation of your new vocation as a welder. So below are more factors you may want to evaluate before picking a welding vocational school.
Accreditation. It’s extremely important that the Winfield AL welder technical school you decide on is accredited by either a regional or a national organization. There are two basic types 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, such as Welding Technology. So verify that the program you choose is accredited, not just the school itself. Additionally, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, such as the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping ensure that you obtain a superior education, the accreditation can also help in securing financial aid or student loans, which are often unavailable for schools that are not accredited. Finally, for those states or municipalities that mandate licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited as well.
Job Assistance and Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of welder certificate or degree programs are provided in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Other schools will help place you in a job or an apprenticeship upon graduation. Ask if the schools you are considering help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. The schools should have associations with local unions and other Winfield AL metal working businesses to which they can place their students. Older schools may have a larger network of graduates that they can utilize for referrals. These programs can assist students in finding employment and develop associations within the regional welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that start an instructional program and finish it. It’s essential that the welder program you pick has a high completion rate. A lower rate might indicate that the students who were in the program were unhappy with the training, the teachers, or the facilities, and dropped out. The job placement rate is also an indication of the caliber of training. A higher job placement rate will not only verify that the school has an excellent reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of Winfield AL employer relationships to assist students obtain apprenticeships or employment after graduation.
Up-to-date Facilities and Equipment. Once you have decreased your selection of welder schools to two or three options, you should consider going to the campuses to evaluate their facilities. Verify that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be taught on are modern. Specifically, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be using in the field. If you are unsure 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 Winfield AL welding contractor if they can give you a few tips.
School Location. Even though we previously briefly talked about the importance of location, there are a couple of additional points that we should address. You should remember that unless you are able to move, the welder school you select needs to be within driving distance of your Winfield AL home. If you do decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, apart from moving costs there may be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially true for welder diploma programs offered by community colleges. Additionally, if the school offers 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 an area or state where you ultimately will desire to work.
Smaller Classes. Individualized training is essential for a hands-on trade such as welding. It’s easy to get overlooked in bigger classes and not receive much individualized instruction. Find out what the average class size is for the welder programs you are reviewing. Ask if you can sit in on a couple of classes so that you can experience how much personal attention the students are getting. While there, speak with a few of the students and get their evaluations. Also, speak with a couple of the instructors and ask what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they hold.
Convenient Class Schedules. Lots of folks learn a new trade while still employed at their current job. Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are looking at are flexible enough to satisfy your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Winfield AL, make certain that the schools you are considering offer those options. If you can only attend part-time, make certain that the school you pick offers part-time enrollment. Also, check to see what the policy is to make up classes if you you miss any due to illness, work or family responsibilities.
Being a Welder in Winfield AL
Winfield is a small city situated in Northwest Alabama 26 miles (42 km) east of the Mississippi state line. It lies in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountain range which stretches from the deep South all the way to Maine. Long before the earliest settlers arrived, Indian tribes hunted in the forest and fished in the streams and along and around Winfield. The town was originally called "Needmore", but when it was incorporated in either 1887 or 1891, the name was changed to Winfield in honor of General Winfield Scott. This area was once the Chickasaw Indian domain. Although there were no known Indian settlements within the county, several sites were maintained as hunting camps.
Winfield is located in southern Marion County at 33°55′42″N 87°48′29″W / 33.92833°N 87.80806°W / 33.92833; -87.80806 (33.928258, -87.807990), with a portion extending south into Fayette County. U.S. Route 43 passes through the city, leading northwest 6.5 miles (10.5 km) to Guin and south 18 miles (29 km) to Fayette. Hamilton, the Marion County seat, is 20 miles (32 km) northwest via US 43.
Winfield has a subtropical climate characterized by hot, humid summers, mild winters, and abundant rainfall during the late winter and spring. January sees average daily high temperatures of 53.0 °F (11.7 °C) and lows of 31.8 °F (−0.1 °C). In July, the average daily high is 90.6 °F (32.6 °C), and the low is 69.2 °F (20.7 °C). Snowfall is infrequent in the area, with a yearly average of 0.5 inches (12.7 mm). The average yearly rainfall in Winfield is about 52 inches (1,300 mm), with March being the wettest month and October the driest.
The spring and fall months are pleasant but variable, but cold fronts frequently bring strong to severe thunderstorms and occasional tornadoes to the region. The fall season features less rainfall and fewer storms, as well as lower humidity than the spring, but is also a secondary severe weather season.
Choose the Best Welding Technical School Winfield AL
Selecting the best welder school will probably be the most important decision you will make to begin your new trade. As we have covered in this article, there are many things that you will need to assess and compare between the programs you are reviewing. It’s a must that any welder training that you are examining 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 on. Classroom teaching needs to provide a real-world perspective, and the training program should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Courses vary in length and the type of credential offered, so you will need to determine what length of program and credential will best fulfill your needs. Every program offers unique possibilities for certification as well. Perhaps the best approach to research your short list of schools is to check out each campus and speak with the students and instructors. Take the time to attend some classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the training program you select is the right one for you. With the proper training, effort and dedication, the end outcome will be a new career as a professional welder in Winfield AL.