How to Enroll In the Right Welding Certification Course near Opelika Alabama
Finding the ideal welder technical school near Opelika AL is an important first step to starting your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are numerous schools to pick from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more significantly, once you have fine tuned your alternatives, how do you select the best one? Many prospective students start by looking at the schools that are closest to their residences. When they have identified those that are within commuting distance, they are drawn toward the least costly one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are important issues when reviewing welder trade schools, but they are not the only ones. Other considerations include such things as accreditation, reputation and job placement rates. So before initiating your search for a trade 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 Courses
There are several options to obtain training as a welder in a trade or vocational school. You can obtain 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 made available combined with an apprenticeship program. Following are short explanations of the most common welding programs offered in the Opelika AL.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are usually offered by trade and technical schools and require about a year to complete. They are more hands-on training in scope, created mainly to develop 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 extensive education than the diploma or certificate while still providing the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
Some municipalities and states do have licensing prerequisites for welders, therefore don’t forget to find out for your location of potential employment. As required, the welding school you pick should prepare you for any licensing examinations that you will have to take in addition to furnishing the appropriate training to become a professional welder.
Welder Certification Choices
There are multiple organizations that offer welder certifications, which test the knowledge and skill level of those applying. A large number of Opelika AL employers not only expect a degree or certificate from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a highly regarded organization like the American Welding Society (AWS). A wide range of certifications are available based upon the type of work that the welder does. A few of the things 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
- Perform based on contract specifications
As earlier stated, some cities, states or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those requiring licensing, a number also require certification for different kinds of work. Certification is also a means to demonstrate to employers that you are a highly skilled and knowledgeable welder. So just as with licensing, check the requirements for your local area and make certain that the welder trade school you select prepares you for certification as needed.
What to Ask Welder Trade Schools
Once you have decided on the credential you want to attain, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can begin to compare schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are a large number of welding vocational and trade schools in the Opelika AL area. That’s why it’s necessary to decide up front what qualifications your chosen school must have. We have already covered a couple of significant ones that most people look at first, which are location and tuition cost. As stated, although they are very important qualifications, they are not the only ones that must be considered. After all, the school you pick is going to furnish the education that will be the foundation of your new vocation as a welder. So below are more factors you may need to consider before selecting a welder technical school.
Accreditation. It’s essential that the welder tech school you choose is accredited by either a national or a regional 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 pick is accredited, not just the school alone. Also, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, for example the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). In addition to helping make sure that you receive a superior education, the accreditation might also assist in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are often unavailable in Opelika AL for non-accredited schools. Finally, for those states or local governments that require licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited as well.
Job Placement and Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous welder degree or diploma programs are offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Other schools will help place you in an apprenticeship or a job after graduation. Ask if the schools you are considering help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. These 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 rely upon for placements. These programs can assist students in finding employment and develop relationships within the Opelika AL welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that begin an instructional program and complete it. It’s essential that the welding program you select has a high completion rate. A reduced rate might indicate that the students who enrolled in the program were unhappy with the training, the teachers, or the facilities, and quit. The job placement rate is also a good indicator of the caliber of training. A higher job placement rate will not only confirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of Opelika AL employer relationships to assist students secure employment or apprenticeships upon graduation.
Modern Equipment and Facilities. After you have narrowed down your selection of welding schools to 2 or 3 possibilities, you should consider visiting the campuses to evaluate their facilities. Make sure that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be instructed on are up-to-date. Specifically, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be using on the job. If you are not sure 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 Opelika AL welding professional if they can give you a few tips.
School Location. Even though we previously briefly discussed the relevance of location, there are a couple of additional issues that we should deal with. You should bear in mind that unless you can move, the welder program you pick must be within commuting distance of your Opelika AL home. If you do decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there could be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly the case for welder diploma programs offered by community colleges. Additionally, if the school provides an apprenticeship or job placement program, more than likely their placements are within the school’s regional community. So the location of the school should be in a region or state where you ultimately will desire to work.
Smaller Classes. Individualized training is important for a manual trade such as welding. It’s possible to be overlooked in bigger classes and not get much personalized instruction. Ask what the usual class size is for the welding programs you are considering. Inquire if you can sit in on some classes so that you can see just how much individual attention the students are getting. While there, speak with a few of the students and get their feedback. Also, chat with some of the instructors and ask what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they hold.
Convenient Class Scheduling. Many people learn a new trade while still employed at their current job. Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are convenient enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Opelika AL, confirm that the schools you are assessing provide those alternatives. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you pick offers part-time enrollment. Also, check to see what the protocol is to make up classes should you miss any because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Online Welding Training Programs
Welding is truly a manual kind of profession, and for that reason not very compatible with training online. Having said that, there are some online welding classes offered by specific community colleges and vocational schools in the greater Opelika AL area that may be credited toward a degree or certificate program. These classes mainly deal with such subjects as safety, reading blueprints, and metallurgy. They can help provide a beginner a basis to start their education and training. However, the most significant point is that you can’t learn how to weld or use welding materials unless you actually do it. Clearly that can’t be done online. These skills must be learned in an on-campus environment or in an apprenticeship. Online or distance learning is better suited for experienced welders that want 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 careful and verify that the greater part of the training is done on campus or in a workshop type of setting.
Attending a Welding School in Opelika AL?
If you have decided to enroll in a welder training program in the Opelika Alabama area, you may find the following information both informative and helpful about the location of your new school campus.
Opelika (pronounced /ˌoʊpəˈlaɪkə/ OH-pə-LY-kə) is a city in and the county seat of Lee County in the east central part of the State of Alabama. It is a principal city of the Auburn-Opelika Metropolitan Area. According to the 2013 Census Estimate, the population of Opelika was 28,635. The Auburn-Opelika, AL MSA with a population of 150,933 which, along with the Columbus, Georgia metropolitan area and Macon County, Alabama, comprises the Greater Columbus, Georgia, a region home to 501,649 residents.
The first white settlers in the area now known as Opelika arrived in the late 1830s and established a community called Lebanon. After the removal of the native Creek (Muscogee) peoples by federal troops in 1836-37, the area became known as "Opelika." This word taken from the Muskogee language means "large swamp".
In 1848, the Montgomery and West Point Railroad Company extended a rail line from Montgomery, Alabama, to Opelika, and in 1851, completed a connection to West Point, Georgia, thus connecting Opelika with Atlanta, Georgia. This line was the only direct rail route between New Orleans and the Eastern Seaboard. It rapidly became one of the primary trade lines for shipments of raw cotton from Southern plantations to the North. The Montgomery and West Point was soon joined by a rail connection to Columbus, Georgia, in 1855, and a connection to Birmingham, Alabama, in 1869. Almost overnight, Opelika became a regional hub for commerce.
Choose the Ideal Welding Tech Program Opelika AL
Picking the ideal welder school will undoubtedly be the most critical decision you will make to start your new career. You originally stopped by our website because you had an interest in Night School Welding Courses. However, as we have discussed in this article, there are several things that you will need to evaluate and compare among the programs you are considering. It’s a must that any welding training that you are examining includes a lot of hands-on training. Classes need to be small in size and each student should have their personal welding machine to train with. Classroom instruction needs to provide a real-world context, and the course of study should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Courses vary in duration and the kind of credential provided, so you will have to determine what length of program and credential will best fulfill your needs. Every training program offers unique options for certification as well. Perhaps the best way to research your short list of schools is to check out each campus and talk with the faculty and students. Invest some time to attend a few classes. Tour 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, effort and commitment, the final outcome will be a new career as a professional welder in Opelika AL.