How to Select the Best Welder Technical School near Muscle Shoals Alabama
Enrolling in the right welding trade school near Muscle Shoals AL is an important first step to starting your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are a lot of schools to select from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more notably, once you have narrowed down your options, how do you select the best one? Many people start by looking at the schools that are closest to their residences. Once they have located those that are within driving distance, they are drawn toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and tuition cost are important concerns when evaluating welder trade schools, but they are not the only ones. Other concerns include such things as reputation, accreditation and job placement rates. So before initiating your search for a trade school to become a welder, it’s sensible to develop a list of qualifications that your selected school must have. But before we explore our due diligence checklist, let’s talk a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welding Certificate and Degree Training Programs
There are several options available to obtain 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 Technology or Welding Engineering, but are more advanced courses than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also offered along with an apprenticeship program. Below are short descriptions of the most common welding programs offered in the Muscle Shoals AL area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are generally offered by trade and technical schools and take about 1 year to complete. They are more hands-on training in nature, 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 2 years to finish and are most often offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology furnishes a more well-rounded education than the certificate or diploma while still furnishing the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
Some states and municipalities do have licensing requirements for welders, so be sure to check for your location of potential employment. As needed, the welder school you choose should ready you for any licensing examinations that you will need to pass in addition to furnishing the appropriate training to become a professional welder.
Welder Certification Options
There are multiple organizations that offer welder certifications, which assess the knowledge and skill level of those applying. Numerous Muscle Shoals AL employers not only require a certificate or degree from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a highly regarded organization like the American Welding Society (AWS). Different certifications are available based upon the type of work that the welder performs. Some of the things that certification can attest to are the welder’s ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with certain metal thicknesses
- Work with certain kinds of welds
- Operate in compliance with contract specifications
As formerly mentioned, some states, cities or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those requiring licensing, a number additionally require certification for different kinds of work. Certification is also a way to prove to employers that you are a highly skilled and experienced welder. So just as with licensing, look into the requirements for your location and make certain that the welding technical school you select prepares you for certification as needed.
Questions to Ask Welder Tech Programs
After you have chosen the credential you would like to obtain, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can start to assess schools. As you probably know, there are many welding trade and technical schools in the Muscle Shoals AL area. That’s why it’s essential to decide up front what qualifications your selected school must have. We have already discussed 2 significant ones that most people consider first, which are location and tuition cost. As mentioned, although they are very important qualifications, they are not the only ones that should be looked at. After all, the school you select is going to furnish the education that will be the foundation of your new vocation as a welder. So following are more factors you might need to consider before picking a welder trade school.
Accreditation. It’s extremely important that the welding tech school you pick is accredited by either a national or a regional organization. There are two standard types of accreditation. The school may attain Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on an individual program the school offers, for instance Welding Technology. So make certain that the program you pick is accredited, not just the school alone. Additionally, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, for example the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). In addition to helping make sure that you obtain a superior education, the accreditation might also help in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable in Muscle Shoals AL for schools that are not accredited. 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. Numerous welding degree or certificate programs are provided in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Some other schools will help place you in a job or an apprenticeship after graduation. Ask if the schools you are considering assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. These schools should have relationships with local unions and other metal working businesses to which they can place their students. More established schools may have a larger network of graduates that they can rely upon for referrals. These programs can assist students in finding employment and establish relationships within the Muscle Shoals AL welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that begin an academic program and finish it. It’s crucial that the welder program you choose has a higher completion rate. A low rate may indicate that the students who were in the program were dissatisfied with the instruction, the instructors, 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 program has a good reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of Muscle Shoals AL employer relationships to assist students obtain apprenticeships or employment after graduation.
Up-to-date Facilities and Equipment. After you have narrowed down your selection of welder programs to 2 or 3 possibilities, you should consider going to the campuses to inspect 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 similar 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 Muscle Shoals AL welding professional if they can give you a few suggestions.
School Location. Even though we already briefly talked about the relevance of location, there are a couple of additional points that we should cover. You should bear in mind that unless you can relocate, the welder school you select must be within driving distance of your Muscle Shoals AL home. If you do opt to attend an out-of-state school, apart from moving expenses there could be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially the case for welding diploma programs offered by community colleges. Also, if the school offers a job placement or apprenticeship program, often 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 subsequently will wish to work.
Small Classes. One-on-one instruction is essential for a manual trade such as welding. It’s possible to be overlooked in larger classes and not obtain much personalized instruction. Ask what the typical class size is for the welder schools you are reviewing. Inquire if you can attend some classes so that you can witness how much individual attention the students are getting. While there, speak with a few of the students and get their opinions. Similarly, chat with a couple of the instructors and ask what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they have earned.
Flexible Class Schedules. Some people learn a new profession while still employed at their present job. Make sure that the class schedules for the schools you are reviewing are convenient enough to meet your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Muscle Shoals 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 decide on offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the policy is to make up classes if you you miss any due to illness, work or family circumstances.
Online Welding Training Programs
Welding is truly a manual kind of vocation, and for that reason not very suitable for training online. Having said that, there are a few online welding classes offered by various community colleges and trade schools in the greater Muscle Shoals AL area that may count toward a degree or certificate program. These classes primarily cover such subjects as safety, reading blueprints, and metallurgy. They can help give a novice a foundation to start their education and training. However, the most significant point is that you can’t learn how to weld or use welding materials until you actually do it. Naturally that can’t be accomplished online. These skills need to be learned in an on-campus environment or in an apprenticeship. Online or distance learning is better suited for experienced welders that would like to advance their expertise or possibly attain a more advanced degree. So if you should come across an online welding degree or certificate program, be very cautious and verify that the bulk of the training is done on campus or in a workshop type of setting.
Online Welding Classes Muscle Shoals AL
Picking the right welding training program will probably be the most important decision you will make to start your new profession. You originally stopped by our website because you had an interest in Online Welding Classes and wanted more information on the topic Colleges That Offer Welding. However, as we have covered in this article, there are several things that you will need to assess and compare between the programs you are considering. It’s a prerequisite that any welding training program that you are evaluating includes a good deal of hands-on training. Classes should be smaller in size and every student should have their personal welding machine to train with. Classroom instruction should provide a real-world context, and the training program should be current and conform with industry standards. Courses vary in duration and the type of credential provided, so you will need to ascertain 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 means to research your final list of schools is to visit each campus and talk with the students and faculty. Take the time to monitor a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the school you choose is the right one for you. With the right training, effort and commitment, the final result will be a new career as a professional welder in Muscle Shoals AL.
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Muscle Shoals, Alabama
Both the city and the Florence-Muscle Shoals Metropolitan Area (including four cities in Colbert and Lauderdale counties) are commonly called "the Shoals".Northwest Alabama Regional Airport serves the Shoals region, located in the northwest section of the state.
Since the 1960s, the city has been known for music – developing the "Muscle Shoals Sound", as local recording studios (including FAME Studios in the late 1950s and Muscle Shoals Sound Studio in 1969) produced hit records that shaped the history of popular music.
Due to its strategic location along the Tennessee River, Muscle Shoals played a key role in historic land disputes between Native Americans and Anglo-American settlers in the late 18th century and early 19th century.