How to Pick a Welding Trade School near Tuscaloosa Alabama
Locating the ideal welding school near Tuscaloosa AL is an important first step to starting your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are numerous schools to select from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more notably, once you have fine tuned your options, how do you pick the best one? A number of prospective students begin by reviewing the schools that are nearest to their homes. Once they have found those that are within commuting distance, they are drawn toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and tuition cost are crucial concerns when reviewing welding vocational schools, but they are not the only ones. Other considerations include such things as reputation, accreditation and job placement rates. So before starting your search for a school to become a welder, it’s sensible to create a list of qualifications that your chosen school must have. But before we delve into our due diligence checklist, let’s cover a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welding Degree and Certificate Training Classes
There are several alternatives available to obtain 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 in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Following are short explanations of the most prevalent welding programs offered in the Tuscaloosa AL area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are generally offered by trade and technical schools and require about one year to complete. They are more hands-on training in nature, designed primarily to develop welding skills. They can provide a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or specialized skills for experienced welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take 2 years to complete and are most often offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology furnishes a more well-rounded education than the diploma or certificate while still supplying the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
A number of municipalities and states do have licensing prerequisites for welders, so don’t forget to check for your location of potential employment. If needed, the Tuscaloosa AL welding school you choose should prep you for any licensing examinations that you will have to pass in addition to providing the appropriate training to become a professional welder.
Welder Certification Options
There are several organizations that provide welder certifications, which assess the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Numerous Tuscaloosa AL employers not only demand a degree or certificate from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a renowned agency such as the American Welding Society (AWS). Different 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 certain metal thicknesses
- Work with certain kinds of welds
- Operate in compliance with contract specifications
As earlier mentioned, many states, cities or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those mandating licensing, a number additionally require certification for various types of work. Certification is also a means to demonstrate to employers that you are an exceptionally skilled and experienced welder. So just as with licensing, check the requirements for your location and confirm that the Tuscaloosa AL welding trade school you decide on preps you for certification if needed.
Online Welding Training
Welding is truly a manual type of trade, and for that reason not very compatible with training online. Having said that, there are some online welding programs offered by specific community colleges and trade schools that can count toward a certificate or degree program. These courses mainly deal with 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 critical point is that you can’t learn how to weld or handle welding materials until you actually do it. Naturally that can’t be performed online. These skills need to be learned in an on-campus environment or in an apprenticeship. Online or distance learning is more appropriate for experienced Tuscaloosa AL welders that desire to advance their expertise or perhaps attain a more advanced degree. So if you should come across an online welding degree or certificate program, be extremely careful and make sure that the majority of the training is done on campus or in a workshop type of setting.
How to Choose a Welder Technical School near Tuscaloosa AL
Once you have chosen the credential you would like to earn, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can start to assess schools. As you probably know, there are many welding vocational and trade schools in the Tuscaloosa AL area. That’s why it’s important to determine up front what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have previously discussed 2 significant ones that many people consider first, which are location and tuition cost. As stated, although they are essential qualifiers, they are not the only ones that must be considered. After all, the school you decide on is going to furnish the training that will be the foundation of your new career as a welder. So following are more factors you may want to consider before selecting a welder technical school.
Accreditation. It’s extremely important that the Tuscaloosa AL welder trade school you decide on is accredited by either a regional or a national organization. There are two basic types 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, 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 organization, such as 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 often not available for non-accredited schools. Finally, for those states or municipalities that mandate licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited also.
Apprenticeship and Job Assistance Programs. A large number of welder diploma or degree programs are offered combined with an apprenticeship program. Some other schools will assist in placing you in a job or an apprenticeship after graduation. Find out if the schools you are considering help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. The schools should have associations with local unions and other Tuscaloosa 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 placements. These programs can assist students in finding employment and establish relationships within the regional welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that enroll in an instructional program and finish it. It’s essential that the welder program you pick has a high completion rate. A low rate may indicate that the students who joined the program were unhappy with the instruction, the instructors, 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 an excellent reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of Tuscaloosa AL contacts to assist students obtain employment or apprenticeships after graduation.
Up-to-date Equipment and Facilities. Once you have narrowed down your choice of welding programs to two or three possibilities, you should consider visiting the campuses to evaluate their facilities. Make sure 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 working with on the job. If you are uncertain what to look for, and are already in an apprenticeship program, ask the master welder you are working under for guidance. If not, ask a local Tuscaloosa AL welding contractor if they can give you some pointers.
School Location. Although we already briefly discussed the importance of location, there are a few additional points that we should address. You should keep in mind that unless you can move, the welder school you choose must be within commuting distance of your Tuscaloosa AL home. If you do opt to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation expenses there might be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially the case for welding diploma programs offered by community colleges. Additionally, if the school provides a job placement or apprenticeship program, more than likely their placements are within the school’s local community. So the location of the school should be in a region or state where you ultimately will wish to work.
Small Classes. One-on-one training is important for a manual trade such as welding. It’s easy to be lost in larger classes and not obtain much one-on-one instruction. Ask what the average class size is for the welder schools you are reviewing. Ask if you can sit in on a couple of classes so that you can observe just how much personal attention the students are getting. While there, speak with a few of the students and get their opinions. Similarly, talk with a couple of the teachers and find out what their welding experience has been in Alabama and what credentials and certifications they hold.
Convenient Class Scheduling. Many people learn a new profession while still working at their present job. Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are looking at are flexible enough to satisfy your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Tuscaloosa AL, make certain that the schools you are considering provide those alternatives. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you decide on offers part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the protocol is to make up classes if you you miss any because of illness, work or family circumstances.
Looking at Welding Schools 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 near Tuscaloosa AL
Choosing the ideal welder school will undoubtedly be the most critical decision you will make to start your new profession. 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 that you are evaluating includes a good deal of hands-on training. Classes should be small in size and every student must have their own welding machine to train on. Classroom instruction needs to offer a real-world context, and the course of study should be current and in-line with industry standards. Training programs differ in length and the kind of credential offered, so you will need to decide what length of program and credential will best serve your needs. Each program provides different possibilities for certification as well. Perhaps The ideal way to research your short list of schools is to visit each campus and speak with the students and faculty. Take the time to attend some classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the program you select is the ideal one for you. With the right training, effort and dedication, the end result will be a new occupation as a professional welder in Tuscaloosa AL.
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