How to Choose a Welding Trade School near Russellville Alabama
Selecting the ideal welder school near Russellville AL is an important first step to launching your new career as a professional welder. But since there are so many schools to select from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more significantly, once you have narrowed down your alternatives, how do you pick the best one? A number of people start by reviewing the schools that are closest to their homes. When they have identified those that are within commuting distance, they are drawn toward the least costly one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are crucial issues when examining welding trade schools, but they are not the only ones. Other considerations include such things as accreditation, reputation and job placement rates. So before beginning your search for a school to become a welder, it’s wise 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.
Welder Degree and Certificate Training Programs
There are several options available to obtain training as a welder in a trade or technical school. You can receive a a certificate, a diploma or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are offered in Welding Technology or Welding Engineering, but are more advanced programs than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Following are short summaries of the most prevalent welding programs offered in the Russellville AL area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are normally made available by technical and trade schools and take about a year to finish. They are more hands-on training in scope, designed mainly to teach welding skills. They can provide a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or additional skills for working welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take two years to finish and are most often offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology offers a more extensive education than the certificate or diploma while still supplying the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
Many states and municipalities do have licensing requirements for welders, therefore don’t forget to check for your location of potential employment. As required, the Russellville AL welding school you pick should ready you for any licensing exams that you will need to pass in addition to supplying the proper training to become a qualified welder.
Welding Certification Options
There are a number of organizations that offer welder certifications, which assess the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Many Russellville AL employers not only require a certificate or degree from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a respected organization like the American Welding Society (AWS). Different certifications are offered based upon the type of work that the welder does. Some of the things that certification can acknowledge are the welder’s ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specific metal thicknesses
- Work with various types of welds
- Perform based on contract specifications
As already mentioned, various cities, states or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those mandating licensing, many additionally require certification for different kinds of work. Certification is also a way to demonstrate to employers that you are an extremely skilled and experienced welder. So just as with licensing, look into the requirements for your location and make certain that the Russellville AL welder trade school you choose preps you for certification if needed.
Online Welder Training
Welding is truly a hands-on kind of trade, and consequently not extremely suitable for training online. However, there are some online welding programs offered by certain community colleges and vocational schools that can count toward a degree or certificate program. These classes mainly deal with such topics as safety, reading blueprints, and metallurgy. They can help provide a beginner a basis to begin their education and training. However, the most significant point is that you can’t learn how to weld or work with welding materials until you actually do it. Obviously that can’t be done 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 Russellville AL welders that want to advance their expertise or possibly attain a more advanced degree. So if you should discover an online welding certificate or degree program, be extremely cautious and verify that the majority of the training is done on campus or in a workshop type of setting.
How to Choose a Welding Vocational School near Russellville AL
When you have chosen the credential you want to obtain, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can begin to assess schools. As you probably know, there are a large number of welder vocational and trade schools in the Russellville AL area. That’s why it’s important to determine up front what qualifications your chosen school must have. We have previously discussed a couple of significant ones that most people look at first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As mentioned, although they are essential qualifiers, they are not the only ones that should be looked at. After all, the school you select is going to furnish the instruction that will be the foundation of your new profession as a welder. So below are more factors you may need to consider before selecting a welder technical school.
Accreditation. It’s very important that the Russellville AL welder vocational school you select is accredited by either a regional or a national organization. There are 2 basic kinds of accreditation. The school may earn Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a specific program the school has, for instance Welding Technology. So make certain that the program you pick is accredited, not just the school itself. Additionally, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, like the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). In addition to helping ensure that you obtain a superior education, the accreditation might also help in securing financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited schools. Also, for those states or municipalities that mandate licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited as well.
Apprenticeship and Job Placement Programs. Many welder diploma 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 looking at assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. The schools should have associations with local unions and various Russellville AL metal working businesses to which they can refer their students. More established schools may have a more substantial network of graduates that they can rely upon for referrals. These programs can help students find employment and develop associations within the local welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that start an instructional program and finish it. It’s important that the welding school you pick has a higher completion rate. A reduced rate could indicate that the students who were in the program were dissatisfied with the training, the teachers, 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 confirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of Russellville AL employer relationships to help students secure employment or apprenticeships after graduation.
Modern Facilities and Equipment. After you have narrowed down your choice of welder schools to two or three possibilities, you should consider visiting the campuses to evaluate their facilities. Verify that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be taught on are up-to-date. Specifically, the training equipment should be similar 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. Otherwise, ask a local Russellville AL welding professional if they can give you a few suggestions.
School Location. Although we already briefly discussed the importance of location, there are a couple of additional issues that we should address. You should bear in mind that unless you are able to relocate, the welder program you pick must be within commuting distance of your Russellville AL home. If you do opt to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation expenses there could be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly the case for welder degree programs offered by community colleges. Furthermore, 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 subsequently will want to work.
Small Classes. One-on-one training is essential for a manual trade such as welding. It’s possible to be overlooked in larger classes and not receive much individualized training. Ask what the typical class size is for the welder schools you are looking at. Ask if you can sit in on some classes so that you can experience how much personal attention the students are getting. While there, talk with several of the students and get their evaluations. Also, talk to some of the teachers and ask what their welding experience has been in Alabama and what certifications and credentials they have earned.
Convenient Class Schedules. Many people learn a new trade while still working at their present job. Make sure that the class schedules for the schools you are looking at are convenient enough to meet your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Russellville AL, make sure that the schools you are assessing provide those choices. If you can only enroll part-time, verify that the school you decide on offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the policy is to make up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family responsibilities.
Looking at Welding Schools in Russellville AL?
Russellville is a city in Franklin County in the U.S. state of Alabama. At the 2010 census, the population of the city was 9,830, up from 8,971 at the 2000 census. The city is the county seat of Franklin County.
After the War of 1812, the U.S. government appropriated money to improve a route from Nashville to New Orleans. It was named Jackson's Military Road after Andrew Jackson, and it passed through what became Russellville. (Present-day Jackson Avenue and Jackson Highway, U.S. Route 43, follow portions of the original road.)
Russellville is named after Major William Russell, an early settler in the area who helped in the construction of Jackson's Military Road. The town grew at this road's intersection with the Gaines Trace.
Russellville served as the first county seat from 1818-1849 before it was removed to Frankfort (which served from 1849-1879). After the fire at the courthouse in the third county seat of Belgreen in 1890, the seat was returned to Russellville in 1891.
Choose the Right Welding Tech School near Russellville AL
Picking the ideal welding 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 assess and compare between the schools you are looking at. It’s a prerequisite that any welder training program that you are assessing includes a considerable amount of hands-on training. Classes should be smaller in size and every student must have their own welding machine to train with. Classroom education should provide a real-world frame of reference, and the training program should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Training programs vary in duration and the type of credential offered, so you will have to determine what length of program and degree or certificate will best serve your needs. Each program provides different options for certification as well. Perhaps the best way to research your final list of schools is to go to each campus and speak with the students and faculty. Take the time to attend a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the training program you choose is the ideal one for you. With the proper training, effort and dedication, the end result will be a new occupation as a professional welder in Russellville AL.
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