How to Find the Right Welding Technical School near Fultondale Alabama
Selecting the right welding trade school near Fultondale AL is an important first step to starting your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are so many schools to select from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more importantly, once you have narrowed down your choices, how do you select the right one? A number of people start by checking out the schools that are nearest to their residences. Once they have found those that are within commuting distance, they are drawn toward the least costly one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are important considerations when examining welder technical 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 vocational school to become a welder, it’s wise to establish a list of qualifications that your selected school must have. But before we explore our due diligence checklist, let’s cover a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welding Degree and Certificate Training Courses
There are several options to receive training as a welder in a trade or vocational school. You can receive a diploma, a certificate 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. Below are brief summaries of the most typical welding programs offered in the Fultondale AL.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are usually offered by technical and trade schools and take about a year to finish. They are more hands-on training in nature, designed mainly to teach 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 finish and are usually offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology furnishes a more well-rounded education than the certificate or diploma while still supplying the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
Many municipalities and states do have licensing requirements for welders, therefore make sure to find out for your location of potential employment. If required, the welding school you select should prep you for any licensing examinations that you will have to take in addition to providing the proper training to become a professional welder.
Welding Certification Alternatives
There are a number of institutions that provide welding certifications, which test the knowledge and skill level of those applying. Many Fultondale AL employers not only expect a certificate or degree from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a renowned agency such as the American Welding Society (AWS). A variety of certifications are available based upon the kind of work that the welder does. A few of the skills 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
- Perform in compliance with contract specifications
As previously mentioned, various states, cities or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those mandating licensing, a number additionally require certification for different kinds of work. Certification is also a means to prove to employers that you are a highly skilled and experienced welder. So just as with licensing, look into the requirements for your local area and make sure that the welding vocational school you choose preps you for certification if needed.
Questions to Ask Welder Technical Programs
Once you have chosen the credential you would like to attain, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can begin to evaluate schools. As you can imagine, there are many welding trade and technical schools in the Fultondale AL area. That’s why it’s essential to establish in advance what qualifications your selected school must have. We have previously discussed 2 important ones that many people look at first, which are location and tuition cost. As mentioned, although they are essential qualifications, they are not the only ones that should be looked at. After all, the program you pick is going to provide the instruction that will be the foundation of your new vocation as a welder. So below are more factors you might want to consider before choosing a welder tech school.
Accreditation. It’s extremely important that the welding trade school you choose is accredited by either a regional or a national 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 has, for instance Welding Technology. So make certain 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, such as the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). In addition to helping ensure that you get a quality education, the accreditation might also assist in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable in Fultondale AL for non-accredited schools. Finally, for those states or municipalities that require licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited as well.
Apprenticeship and Job Assistance Programs. Numerous welder degree or certificate programs are provided combined with an apprenticeship program. Various other schools will assist in placing you in an apprenticeship or a job upon graduation. Ask if the schools you are reviewing help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. The schools should have relationships with local unions and various metal working businesses to which they can refer their students. More established schools may have a more substantial network of graduates that they can utilize for referrals. These programs can assist students in finding employment and establish relationships within the Fultondale AL welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that enroll in an academic program and finish it. It’s essential that the welding school you choose has a higher completion rate. A low rate could indicate that the students who were in the program were unhappy with the training, the teachers, or the facilities, and quit. The job placement rate is also an indication of the caliber of training. A high job placement rate will not only affirm that the program has a good reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of Fultondale AL employer relationships to help students secure employment or apprenticeships after graduation.
Modern Facilities and Equipment. After you have limited your choice of welder schools to 2 or 3 possibilities, you should think out visiting the campuses to inspect their facilities. Make sure that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be trained on are up-to-date. In particular, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be working with in the field. If you are uncertain what to look for, and are currently in an apprenticeship program, consult with the master welder you are working under for guidance. If not, ask a local Fultondale AL welding professional if they can give you a few suggestions.
School Location. Even though we previously briefly covered the importance of location, there are a few additional issues that we should address. You should keep in mind that unless you can move, the welder program you pick must be within commuting distance of your Fultondale AL home. If you do opt to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there could be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially the case for welding degree programs offered by community colleges. Additionally, 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 ultimately will wish to work.
Small Classes. One-on-one instruction is important for a manual trade such as welding. It’s possible to be lost in bigger classes and not receive much one-on-one instruction. Find out what the usual class size is for the welding programs you are reviewing. Inquire if you can attend some classes so that you can see just how much personal attention the students are receiving. While there, speak with a few of the students and get their evaluations. Also, chat with a few of the trainers and find out what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they hold.
Convenient Class Schedules. Lots of folks learn a new trade while still working at their present job. Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are considering are flexible enough to satisfy your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Fultondale AL, verify that the schools you are considering provide those options. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, verify 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 due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Online Welding Training
Welding is very much a hands-on kind of trade, and for that reason not extremely suitable for online training. However, there are a few online welding courses offered by various community colleges and vocational schools in the greater Fultondale AL area that may count toward a degree or certificate program. These courses mainly deal with such subjects as safety, reading blueprints, and metallurgy. They can help provide a beginner a basis to initiate their education and training. However, the most significant point is that you can’t learn how to weld or work with welding materials unless you actually do it. Obviously that can’t be performed online. These skills must be learned in an on-campus environment or in an apprenticeship. Online or distance learning is more appropriate for experienced welders that desire 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 cautious and confirm that the bulk of the training is done on campus or in a workshop type of environment.
Attending a Welding School in Fultondale AL?
If you have decided to enroll in a welder training program in the Fultondale Alabama area, you may find the following information both informative and helpful about the location of your new school campus.
This area was once known as Fulton Springs. Prior to the building of Interstate 65, US 31 was the main route for travelers northbound from Birmingham towards Nashville, Tennessee. As a result, hotels such as the Keystone Lodge and Buchmann Motor Inn prospered. On the city's southern edge was located one of the few drive-in theatres in the Birmingham area (the "Skyview"). This was torn down when I-65 was built in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The Pine Bowl bowling alley is still a long time fixture in the city.Traces of the old routing of US 31 are still noticeable in the city. From just south of the city hall to an old bridge on this city's northern side, most of this old routing is known as Stouts Road or in some cases simply "old US 31."
Fultondale was a relatively stagnant community until the last decade. Growth has occurred in residential areas mainly west of Interstate 65, while retail development has focused along and near the I-65/Walkers Chapel Road exit.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 12.2 square miles (32 km2), all land. Fultondale is located along one of the many ridgelines that comprise the southern end of the Appalachian Mountain chain. The area has been thoroughly mined for coal and other minerals in the past 100 years. The city is served by two major north/south highways, Interstate 65 and US Highway 31. The new Interstate 22 encroaches on the city's western edge and on June 20, 2016, the interchange with I-65 just south of Fultondale opened. I-22 will provide direct interstate access to Memphis, Tennessee. Upon completion of Interstate 22, Fultondale will become the fourth Alabama city (after Birmingham, Montgomery, and Mobile) to be directly served by more than one two-digit interstate highway (I-65 & I-22). The only east/west thoroughfare of note is Walkers Chapel Road (west of US 31) and New Castle Road (east of US 31). Rail lines run north/south along the city's eastern edge from Boyles Yard in Tarrant to points north and east. Air travel is available from nearby Birmingham International Airport.
Select the Right Welding Trade School Fultondale AL
Choosing the right welder training program will probably be the most important decision you will make to launch your new profession. You originally stopped by our website because you had an interest in Welding Degree Programs. However, as we have covered in this article, there are a number of factors that you will need to examine and compare among the schools you are looking at. It’s a prerequisite that any welding training that you are examining includes a considerable amount of hands-on instruction. Classes should be smaller in size and each student should have their personal welding machine to train with. Classroom education should offer a real-world frame of reference, and the course of study should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Training programs differ in length and the type of credential offered, so you will need to ascertain what length of program and degree or certificate will best fulfill your needs. Each training program provides different possibilities for certification also. Probably the best approach to research your short list of schools is to check out each campus and talk with the faculty and students. Take the time to attend some classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the school you decide on is the best one for you. With the right training, hard work and dedication, the end result will be a new trade as a professional welder in Fultondale AL.