How to Pick the Best Welder Technical School near Helena Alabama
Choosing the ideal welder trade school near Helena AL is an essential first step to starting your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are numerous schools to select from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more significantly, once you have fine tuned your alternatives, how do you select the right one? A number of prospective students start by looking at the schools that are closest to their residences. Once they have identified those that are within driving distance, they are drawn toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are important considerations when evaluating welding vocational schools, but they are not the only ones. Other concerns include such things as accreditation, reputation and job placement rates. So before beginning your search for a trade school to become a welder, it’s prudent to establish a list of qualifications that your chosen school must have. But before we delve into our due diligence checklist, let’s talk a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welder Degree and Certificate Training
There are multiple options to receive training as a welder in a trade or vocational school. You can earn a a certificate, a diploma or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are available in Welding Engineering or Welding Technology, but are more advanced courses than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also offered along with an apprenticeship program. Following are short summaries of the most common welding programs offered in the Helena AL area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are usually offered by trade and technical schools and take about a year to finish. They are more hands-on training in scope, fashioned mainly to teach welding skills. They can furnish a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or supplemental skills for experienced welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take two years to finish and are most often offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology furnishes 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 prerequisites for welders, therefore don’t forget to find out for your location of future employment. If required, the welder school you choose should ready you for any licensing examinations that you will have to pass in addition to furnishing the proper training to become a professional welder.
Welding Certification Options
There are various institutions that offer welder certifications, which assess the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Many Helena AL employers not only require a certificate or degree from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a respected agency such as the American Welding Society (AWS). Different certifications are offered based on the kind of work that the welder performs. Just some of the skills that certification can acknowledge are the welder’s ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specified metal thicknesses
- Work with certain types of welds
- Operate based on contract specifications
As previously mentioned, various states, cities or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those mandating licensing, many additionally require certification for various kinds of work. Certification is also a means to prove to employers that you are a highly skilled and knowledgeable welder. So similarly as with licensing, look into the requirements for your local area and verify that the welder technical school you choose readies you for certification if needed.
Topics to Ask Welder Tech Programs
When you have decided on the credential you want to earn, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can begin to evaluate schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are a large number of welding trade and vocational schools in the Helena AL area. That’s why it’s essential to decide in advance what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have previously covered 2 important ones that most people consider first, which are location and tuition cost. As stated, although they are very important qualifiers, they are not the only ones that need to be looked at. After all, the program you choose is going to provide the instruction that will be the foundation of your new career as a welder. So below are more factors you might need to consider before selecting a welder trade school.
Accreditation. It’s extremely important that the welding technical school you pick is accredited by either a regional or a national organization. There are 2 standard kinds of accreditation. The school may earn Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on an individual program the school has, such as Welding Technology. So verify that the program you choose is accredited, not just the school itself. Also, 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 receive an excellent education, the accreditation might also assist in securing financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable in Helena AL for schools that are not accredited. 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. A large number of welding diploma or degree programs are offered combined with an apprenticeship program. Some other schools will assist in placing you in an apprenticeship or a job upon graduation. Ask if the schools you are considering assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. The schools must have partnerships with local unions and various metal working businesses to which they can place their students. More established schools may have a more substantial network of graduates that they can utilize for placements. These programs can help students find employment and establish relationships within the Helena AL welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the 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 low rate may indicate that the students who joined the program were dissatisfied with the instruction, the instructors, or the facilities, and dropped out. The job placement rate is also a good indicator of the quality of training. A higher job placement rate will not only confirm that the school has a good reputation within the trade, but additionally that it has the network of Helena AL contacts to help students secure apprenticeships or employment upon graduation.
Up-to-date Facilities and Equipment. After you have decreased your selection of welder schools to 2 or 3 options, you should consider visiting the campuses to evaluate their facilities. Verify that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are up-to-date. Specifically, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be using on the job. If you are uncertain 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 Helena AL welding professional if they can give you a few pointers.
School Location. Even though we already briefly covered the relevance of location, there are a couple of additional issues that we need to address. You should bear in mind that unless you are able to move, the welding school you choose must be within commuting distance of your Helena AL home. If you do opt to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to moving expenses there might be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially the case for welder degree programs offered by community colleges. Also, if the school offers an apprenticeship or job placement program, most likely their placements are within the school’s regional community. So the location of the school should be in an area or state where you ultimately will want to work.
Smaller Classes. Personalized training is essential for a manual trade such as welding. It’s easy to get lost in larger classes and not get much personalized training. Ask what the typical class size is for the welding schools you are looking at. Inquire if you can sit in on a few classes so that you can witness how much personal attention the students are receiving. While there, talk with several of the students and get their opinions. 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 Scheduling. Many people learn a new trade while still working at their present job. Make sure that the class schedules for the schools you are reviewing are flexible enough to satisfy your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Helena AL, make certain that the schools you are reviewing provide those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you pick offers part-time enrollment. Also, check to see what the policy is to make up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family responsibilities.
Online Welding Schools
Welding is very much a hands-on kind of vocation, and for that reason not extremely suitable for online training. Having said that, there are a few online welding classes offered by certain community colleges and vocational schools in the greater Helena AL area that can count toward a certificate or degree program. These courses mainly cover such topics as reading blueprints, safety,, and metallurgy. They can help provide a beginner a foundation to begin their education and training. Nevertheless, the most significant point is that you can’t learn how to weld or work with welding materials unless you actually do it. Clearly that can’t be done online. These skills have to be learned in an on-campus environment or in an apprenticeship. 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 come across an online welding certificate or degree program, be extremely cautious and make sure that the larger part of the training is done on campus or in a workshop type of environment.
Good Welding Colleges Helena AL
Selecting the ideal welding school will undoubtedly be the most important decision you will make to begin your new trade. You originally stopped by our website because you had an interest in Good Welding Colleges and wanted more information on the topic Welding Vocational Schools. However, as we have addressed in this article, there are several things that you will need to examine and compare between the schools you are considering. It’s a necessity that any welding training that you are assessing includes a lot of hands-on training. Classes need to be small in size and every student should have their own welding machine to train on. Classroom teaching needs to offer a real-world context, and the curriculum should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Programs vary in duration and the kind of credential offered, so you will need to decide what length of program and credential will best satisfy your needs. Each program offers unique options for certification also. Probably the best way to research your short list of schools is to check out each campus and speak with the students and faculty. Invest some time to sit in on 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 right training, effort and dedication, the end result will be a new occupation as a professional welder in Helena AL.
Find More Welding Locations in Alabama
Helena (pronunciation hel-LE-nah) is a city in Jefferson and Shelby Counties in the state of Alabama. Helena is considered a suburb of Birmingham and part of the Birmingham-Hoover Metropolitan Area. As of the 2010 census, the population was 16,793. Helena is highly regarded as a place to live and raise children; Business Week named Helena the 13th "Best Place to Raise Your Kids" in 2007. It has the eighth-lowest crime rate per population in the U.S., and the city was ranked in Money magazine's 2007 list of "Best Places to Live: Top 100" in the U.S., placing at number 91. The Alabama League of Municipalities awarded Helena the 2008 Municipal Achievement Award (population 10,001 to 20,000).
Helena initially incorporated in 1877, but reincorporated in 1917 after errors were discovered in the initial incorporation papers. It did not first appear on the U.S. Census until 1920, giving credence to the later date of incorporation.
The initial settlers to Helena, initially named Cove, were veterans of the final campaigns of the War of 1812. Members of Andrew Jackson's army who cut through the brush were attracted to the quiet, peaceful valleys and streams after the Battle of Horseshoe Bend. These first settlers were reported to arrive in 1849 and were predated by the Creek Indian tribes who these settlers had battled. By 1856, the Cove post office opened. Shortly thereafter, the settlers changed the name of the town to Hillsboro.
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