How to Pick the Right Welder Training Program near Helena Alabama
Locating the right welding trade school near Helena AL is an important first step to launching your new career 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 fine tuned your options, how do you select the right one? Many prospective students start by reviewing the schools that are closest to their homes. Once they have identified those that are within driving distance, they gravitate toward the least expensive one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are necessary concerns when evaluating welding trade schools, but they are not the only ones. Other factors 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 wise to create 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 Certificate and Degree Training Programs
There are several options available to get training as a welder in a trade or vocational school. You can receive a a certificate, a diploma or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are offered in Welding Engineering or Welding Technology, but are more advanced degrees than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also offered along with an apprenticeship program. Below are short summaries of the most typical welding programs offered in the Helena AL.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are normally made available by trade and technical schools and take about a year to complete. They are more hands-on training in scope, fashioned largely to teach welding skills. They can furnish 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 well-rounded education than the diploma or certificate while still furnishing the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
Many states and municipalities do have licensing requirements for welders, therefore be sure to find out for your location of future employment. If required, the welder school you select should ready you for any licensing examinations that you will have to take in addition to supplying the appropriate training to become a qualified welder.
Welder Certification Options
There are various institutions that offer welder certifications, which assess the knowledge and skill level of those applying. A large number of Helena AL employers not only demand a degree or certificate from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a renowned agency like the American Welding Society (AWS). Different certifications are offered based upon the kind of work that the welder performs. Some of the skills that certification can acknowledge are the welder’s ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with certain metal thicknesses
- Work with various types of welds
- Operate in compliance with contract specifications
As already mentioned, various states, cities 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 means to demonstrate to employers that you are a highly skilled and experienced welder. So similarly as with licensing, look into the requirements for your local area and verify that the welder trade school you select preps you for certification if needed.
Topics to Ask Welding Technical Schools
Once you have decided on the credential you would like to obtain, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can start to compare schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are many welder trade and vocational schools in the Helena AL area. That’s why it’s necessary to establish in advance what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have already covered a couple of significant ones that many people look at first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As stated, although they are essential qualifications, they are not the only ones that must be looked at. After all, the school you select is going to provide the education that will be the foundation of your new career as a welder. So below are more factors you might need to evaluate before picking a welding vocational school.
Accreditation. It’s essential that the welding technical school you choose is accredited by either a national or a regional organization. There are two standard types of accreditation. The school may receive Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a single program the school offers, for instance Welding Technology. So make certain that the program you select is accredited, not just the school alone. Additionally, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, such as the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). In addition to helping ensure that you obtain a quality education, the accreditation might also assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are often not offered in Helena 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 as well.
Apprenticeship and Job Assistance Programs. Many welding diploma or degree programs are offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Various other schools will help place 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 assistance program. These schools must have relationships with local unions and other 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 referrals. These programs can assist students in finding employment and develop associations within the Helena AL welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that start an academic program and finish it. It’s essential that the welding school you pick has a higher completion rate. A reduced rate might mean that the students who were in the program were unhappy with the instruction, the teachers, or the facilities, and dropped out. 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 a good reputation within the trade, but additionally that it has the network of Helena AL contacts to assist students obtain employment or apprenticeships after graduation.
Modern Equipment and Facilities. Once you have narrowed down your choice of welding programs to 2 or 3 possibilities, you should think out visiting the campuses to look over 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 using in the field. If you are unsure what to look for, and are already 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 some suggestions.
School Location. Even though we already briefly discussed the importance of location, there are a couple of additional points that we need to cover. You should bear in mind that unless you are able to move, the welder program you choose must be within driving distance of your Helena AL home. If you do opt to enroll in an out-of-state school, apart from moving expenses there may be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially the case for welder certificate programs offered by community colleges. Also, if the school offers an apprenticeship or job placement program, often their placements are within the school’s regional community. So the location of the school should be in a region or state where you subsequently will wish to work.
Small Classes. Individualized instruction is important for a hands-on trade such as welding. It’s easy to get lost in larger classes and not get much personalized training. Find out what the average class size is for the welding programs you are looking at. Inquire if you can attend a few classes so that you can experience how much individual attention the students are receiving. While there, speak with several of the students and get their evaluations. Also, talk to a few of the teachers and ask what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they hold.
Flexible Class Schedules. Some people learn a new profession while still working at their current job. Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are looking at are convenient enough to meet your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Helena AL, confirm that the schools you are looking at offer those choices. If you can only enroll part-time, make certain that the school you pick offers part-time enrollment. Also, check to see what the policy is to make up classes if you you miss any because of illness, work or family circumstances.
Online Welder Training Programs
Welding is truly a hands-on kind of trade, and therefore not extremely compatible with training online. Even so, there are a few online welding programs offered by various community colleges and vocational schools in the greater Helena AL area that can be credited toward a degree or certificate program. These courses primarily cover such topics as reading blueprints, safety,, and metallurgy. They can help provide a novice a basis to begin their training and education. However, the most significant point is that you can’t learn how to weld or handle welding materials unless you actually do it. Obviously that can’t be performed online. These skills must be learned in an on-campus setting or in an apprenticeship. Online or distance learning is better suited for experienced welders that want to advance their expertise or perhaps earn a more advanced degree. So if you should find an online welding certificate or degree program, be extremely careful and confirm that the larger part of the training is done on campus or in a workshop type of setting.
Attending a Welding School in Helena AL?
If you have decided to enroll in a welder training program in the Helena Alabama area, you may find the following information both informative and helpful about the location of your new school campus.
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.
Pick the Right Welding Technical Program Helena AL
Choosing the ideal welder training program will probably be the most critical decision you will make to begin your new trade. You originally stopped by our website because you had an interest in Best Welding Colleges. However, as we have covered in this article, there are a number of factors that you will need to examine and compare between the programs you are considering. It’s a prerequisite that any welding training program that you are reviewing includes a good deal of hands-on training. Classes need to be smaller in size and each student must have their own welding machine to train with. Classroom instruction should offer a real-world perspective, and the training program should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Courses differ in length and the kind of credential provided, so you will have to determine what length of program and credential will best serve your needs. Every training program offers different possibilities for certification as well. Probably the best approach to research your final list of schools is to check out each campus and talk with the faculty and students. Invest some time to monitor a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the school you pick is the ideal one for you. With the right training, hard work and commitment, the final outcome will be a new trade as a professional welder in Helena AL.