How to Choose a Welder Trade School near Anniston Alabama
Enrolling in the ideal welder school near Anniston AL is an essential first step to beginning your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are numerous schools to pick from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more importantly, once you have fine tuned your choices, how do you pick the best one? Many people begin by looking at the schools that are closest to their residences. Once they have identified those that are within commuting distance, they are drawn toward the least costly one. Yes, location and tuition cost are necessary considerations when reviewing welding technical schools, but they are not the only ones. Other factors include such things as reputation, accreditation and job placement rates. So before beginning your search for a vocational school to become a welder, it’s prudent to create 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 Programs
There are a number of options to receive training as a welder in a trade or vocational 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 made available along with an apprenticeship program. Below are short summaries of the most typical welding programs offered in the Anniston AL area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are generally made available by trade and technical schools and take about one year to finish. They are more hands-on training in nature, created mainly to develop 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 complete and are most often offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology provides a more well-rounded education than the certificate or diploma while still furnishing the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
A number of states and municipalities do have licensing requirements for welders, therefore make sure to check for your location of future employment. If required, the Anniston AL welder school you choose should ready you for any licensing examinations that you will need to pass in addition to supplying the appropriate training to become a qualified welder.
Welding Certification Choices
There are a number of organizations that offer welder certifications, which evaluate the knowledge and skill level of those applying. Many Anniston AL employers not only expect a degree or certificate from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a respected agency like the American Welding Society (AWS). Different certifications are available based on the kind of work that the welder performs. Just some of the things that certification can attest to are the welder’s ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specific metal thicknesses
- Work with specific kinds of welds
- Operate in compliance with contract specifications
As already mentioned, some states, cities or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those requiring licensing, a number also require certification for different kinds of work. Certification is also a means to demonstrate to employers that you are an extremely skilled and knowledgeable welder. So just as with licensing, check the requirements for your location and verify that the Anniston AL welder trade school you select readies you for certification if needed.
Online Welder Training Programs
Welding is very much a manual kind of profession, and therefore not very suitable for online training. Having said that, there are a few online welding classes offered by various community colleges and technical schools that may be credited toward a degree or certificate program. These classes primarily cover such subjects as safety, reading blueprints, and metallurgy. They can help provide a novice a basis 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 accomplished online. These skills have to be learned in an on-campus setting or in an apprenticeship. Online or distance learning is better suited for seasoned Anniston AL welders that want to advance their expertise or possibly obtain a more advanced degree. So if you should discover an online welding degree or certificate program, be extremely careful and make sure that the larger part of the training is done on campus or in a workshop type of setting.
How to Choose a Welder Vocational School near Anniston AL
As soon as you have chosen the credential you would like to earn, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can begin to evaluate schools. As you can imagine, there are many welding vocational and trade schools in the Anniston AL area. That’s why it’s important to establish in advance what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have already covered two important 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 must be looked at. After all, the school you pick is going to provide the training that will be the foundation of your new vocation as a welder. So following are more factors you might need to evaluate before choosing a welding technical school.
Accreditation. It’s extremely important that the Anniston AL welder technical school you select is accredited by either a national or a regional organization. There are two standard 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 has, such as Welding Technology. So confirm that the program you select is accredited, not just the school itself. Additionally, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, for example the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping ensure that you obtain an excellent education, the accreditation might also assist in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases not available for schools that are not accredited. Also, for those states or local governments that require licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited as well.
Apprenticeship and Job Assistance Programs. Numerous welding certificate or degree programs are offered combined with an apprenticeship program. Various other schools will help place you in a job or an apprenticeship upon graduation. Find out if the schools you are considering help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. These schools must have relationships with local unions and other Anniston AL metal working businesses to which they can place their students. Older schools may have a larger network of graduates that they can rely upon for referrals. These programs can help students find employment and develop relationships within the regional welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that begin an instructional program and complete it. It’s crucial that the welding program you pick has a higher completion rate. A lower rate might indicate that the students who were in the program were unhappy with the instruction, the instructors, or the facilities, and quit. The job placement rate is also an indication of the quality of training. A high job placement rate will not only confirm that the program has a good reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of Anniston AL contacts to assist students secure apprenticeships or employment after graduation.
Modern Facilities and Equipment. After you have narrowed down your selection of welder schools to two or three options, you should think out visiting the campuses to evaluate their facilities. Confirm that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are modern. In particular, the training equipment should be comparable to what you will be using on the job. 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. Otherwise, ask a local Anniston AL welding contractor if they can give you some pointers.
School Location. Although we previously briefly talked about the relevance of location, there are a couple of additional points that we should address. You should remember that unless you can relocate, the welding school you pick needs to be within commuting distance of your Anniston AL home. If you do decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides moving expenses there may be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially true for welder diploma programs offered by community colleges. Furthermore, if the school provides a job placement or apprenticeship 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 ultimately will wish to work.
Small Classes. Personalized instruction is important for a hands-on trade such as welding. It’s easy to get overlooked in larger classes and not obtain much one-on-one training. Find out what the typical class size is for the welder schools you are considering. Inquire if you can attend some classes so that you can experience how much individual attention the students are receiving. While there, talk with a few of the students and get their evaluations. Also, talk with some of the teachers and ask what their welding experience has been in Alabama and what credentials and certifications they have earned.
Flexible Class Scheduling. Many people learn a new profession while still working at their current job. Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are looking at are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Anniston AL, make sure that the schools you are assessing offer those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you choose offers part-time enrollment. Also, check to see what the protocol is to make up classes if you you miss any due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Looking at Welding Schools in Anniston AL?
Anniston is the county seat of Calhoun County in Alabama and is one of two urban centers/principal cities of and included in the Anniston-Oxford Metropolitan Statistical Area. As of the 2010 census, the population of the city was 23,106. According to 2013 Census estimates, the city had a population of 22,666.
Though the surrounding area was settled much earlier, the mineral resources in the area of Anniston were not exploited until the Civil War. The Confederate States of America then operated an iron furnace near present-day downtown Anniston, until it was finally destroyed by raiding Union cavalry in early 1865. Later, cast iron for sewer systems became the focus of Anniston's industrial output. Cast iron pipe, also called soil pipe, was popular until the advent of plastic pipe in the 1960s.
In 1872, the Woodstock Iron Company, organized by Samuel Noble and Union Gen. Daniel Tyler, rebuilt the furnace on a much larger scale, and started a planned community named Woodstock, soon renamed "Annie's Town" for Annie Scott Tyler, Daniel's daughter and wife of railroad president Alfred L. Tyler. Anniston was chartered as a town in 1873.
Though the roots of the town's economy were in iron, steel, and clay pipe, planners touted it as a health resort, and several hotels began operating. Schools also appeared, including the Noble Institute, a school for girls established in 1886, and the Alabama Presbyterian College for Men, founded in 1905. Careful planning and easy access to rail transportation helped make Anniston the fifth largest city in the state from the 1890s to the 1950s.
Find the Best Welding Trade School near Anniston AL
Picking the best welder training program will probably be the most important decision you will make to launch your new trade. As we have addressed in this article, there are many factors that you will need to evaluate and compare between the programs you are reviewing. It’s a must that any welding training program that you are evaluating includes a lot of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be small in size and every student must have their personal welding machine to train on. Classroom education should provide a real-world context, and the curriculum should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Courses differ 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. Every program offers different possibilities for certification as well. Probably the best approach to research your short list of schools is to visit each campus and speak with the teachers and students. Invest some time to monitor a few classes. Tour 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 commitment, the end outcome will be a new career as a professional welder in Anniston AL.
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