How to Enroll In a Welder Trade School near Helena Alabama
Locating the right welding school near Helena AL is an essential first step to launching your new career as a professional welder. But since there are numerous schools to choose from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more notably, once you have narrowed down your alternatives, how do you select the best one? Most people begin by checking out the schools that are closest to their homes. Once they have identified those that are within driving distance, they are drawn toward the least costly one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are crucial concerns when reviewing welder vocational schools, but they are not the only ones. Other concerns include such things as reputation, accreditation and job placement rates. So before beginning your search for a trade school to become a welder, it’s sensible to develop a list of qualifications that your selected welding 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 a number of options available to receive training as a welder in a trade or technical school. You can receive a a certificate, a diploma or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are offered in Welding Technology or Welding Engineering, but are more advanced courses than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Below are brief descriptions of the most typical welding programs available in Helena AL.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are generally offered by Alabama technical and trade schools and take about 1 year to complete. They are more hands-on training in scope, created primarily to develop welding skills. They can provide a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or supplemental skills for working welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take 2 years to finish and are usually offered by Alabama community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology provides 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 requirements for welders, therefore make sure to find out for your location of future employment. As required, the welding school you pick should prepare you for any licensing examinations that you will need to take in addition to providing the suitable training to become a qualified welder in Helena AL.
Welder Certification Options
There are various organizations that offer welding certifications, which assess the knowledge and skill level of those applying. Numerous Helena AL employers not only require a certificate or degree from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a highly regarded agency such as the American Welding Society (AWS). Different certifications are available dependent on the type of work that the welder performs. Just some of the things that certification can acknowledge are the welder’s ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with certain metal thicknesses
- Work with specific types of welds
- Operate based on contract specifications
As already stated, various cities, states or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those requiring licensing, some also require certification for various types of work. Certification is also a way to demonstrate to Helena AL 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 trade school you select prepares you for certification if needed.
Online Welder Courses
Welding is truly a manual kind of trade, and for that reason not very compatible with online training. Having said that, there are a few online welding courses offered by specific Helena AL area community colleges and trade schools that can count toward a certificate or degree program. These courses primarily deal with such topics as reading blueprints, safety,, and metallurgy. They can help provide a novice a basis to initiate their education and training. Nevertheless, the most significant point is that you can’t learn how to weld or use welding materials until you actually do it. Clearly that can’t be performed online. These skills need to be learned in an on-campus environment or in an apprenticeship. Online or distance learning is better suited for seasoned welders that would like to advance their knowledge or possibly attain a more advanced degree. So if you should discover an online welding certificate or degree program, be very careful and verify that the bulk of the training is done on campus or in a workshop type of setting.
How to Decide on a Welding Tech Program
Once you have decided on the credential you would like to earn, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can begin to compare schools. As you can imagine, there are many welding trade and technical schools in the Helena AL area. That’s why it’s essential to determine in advance what qualifications your chosen school must have. We have already covered 2 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 should be considered. After all, the school you select is going to furnish the training that will be the foundation of your new profession as a welder. So following are some additional factors you might want to consider before picking a welder technical school.
Accreditation. It’s very important that the welding vocational school you decide on is accredited by either a national or a regional agency. There are 2 basic types of accreditation. The school may attain Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a specific program the school has, such as Welding Technology. So make certain that the program you select is accredited, not just the school itself. Also, 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 ensure that you obtain an excellent education, the accreditation might also help in getting financial assistance or student loans, which are often not offered for Helena AL schools that are not accredited. Also, for those states or municipalities that mandate licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited as well.
Apprenticeship and Job Assistance Programs. Many welder certificate or degree programs are provided combined with an apprenticeship program. Other schools will assist in placing you in an apprenticeship or a job upon graduation. Find out if the schools you are looking at assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. The schools should have associations with local unions and various Helena AL metal working businesses to which they can refer 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 local welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that enroll in an educational program and complete it. It’s crucial that the welder school you pick has a high completion rate. A lower rate might indicate that the students who were in the program were unhappy with the training, the teachers, or the facilities, and dropped out. The job placement rate is also an indication of the quality of training. A higher job placement rate will not only affirm that the school has a good reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of Helena AL employer relationships to help students obtain employment or apprenticeships after graduation.
Modern Facilities and Equipment. Once you have limited your selection of welding programs to 2 or 3 options, you should think out visiting the campuses to look over their facilities. Verify 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 working with on the job. If you are uncertain what to look for, and are already in an apprenticeship program, consult with 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. Although we already briefly discussed 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 welder program you select must be within commuting distance of your Helena AL home. If you do choose to enroll in an out-of-state school, apart from relocation expenses there may be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly the case for welder degree programs offered by community colleges. Also, if the school provides an apprenticeship or job placement program, often their placements are within the school’s local community. So the location of the school needs to be in a region or state where you ultimately will wish to work.
Smaller Classes. One-on-one training is important for a hands-on trade such as welding. It’s possible to get overlooked in bigger classes and not receive much personalized instruction. Ask what the average class size is for the Helena AL area welder programs you are looking at. Ask if you can attend a couple of classes so that you can experience just how much individual attention the students are getting. While there, speak with several of the students and get their feedback. Similarly, talk with a few of the teachers and ask what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they have earned.
Convenient Class Schedules. Many people learn a new profession while still working at their current job. Confirm that the class schedules for the schools you are considering are convenient enough to satisfy your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Helena AL, make sure 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 should you miss any because of work, sickness or family responsibilities.
Why Did You Want to Be a Welding Professional?When getting ready to interview for a Welder position, it's important to reflect on questions you may be asked. One of the questions that recruiters typically ask Welding applicants is "What made you choose Welding as a profession?". What the interviewer is attempting to learn is not just the personal reasons you may have for being a Welder, but additionally what qualities and skills you possess that make you exceptional at what you do. You will probably be asked questions relating exclusively to Welding, in addition to a significant number of general interview questions, so you must prepare a number of approaches about how you want to respond to them. Since there are several variables that go into selecting a career, you can answer this primary question in a multitude of ways. When formulating an answer, try to include the reasons the profession appeals to you in addition to the talents you possess that make you an exceptional Welder and the best choice for the position. Don't attempt to memorize a response, but write down several concepts and talking points that relate to your own strengths and experiences. Reviewing sample answers can help you to develop your own thoughts, and give you ideas of what to discuss to impress the recruiter.
Pick the Best Welding Trade School near Helena AL
Picking the best welding training program will undoubtedly be the most important decision you will make to begin your new profession. As we have discussed in this article, there are several factors that you will need to evaluate and compare among the schools you are reviewing. It’s a must that any welder training program that you are assessing includes a considerable amount of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be smaller in size and every student must have their own welding machine to train on. Classroom education needs to offer a real-world frame of reference, and the training program should be current and conform with industry standards. Programs vary in duration and the kind of credential provided, so you will need to determine what length of program and credential will best serve your needs. Each training program offers unique possibilities for certification as well. Perhaps the best approach to research your short list of schools is to check out each campus and speak with the students and faculty. Invest some time to attend a few classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the school you decide on is the right one for you. With the proper training, effort and dedication, the final outcome will be a new career as a professional welder in Helena AL.
About Helena 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.
The onset of the Civil War brought the need for the South to increase its manufacturing output and add industrialization where there was none prior. Coal and iron ore mines were dug all throughout the area and the addition of the Louisville & Nashville Railroad infrastructure made Helena a center point for the wartime efforts. Around 1864 a rolling mill was built on Buck Creek, near the rail lines to process the Iron from Selma. Peter Boyle, an engineer for the railroad working on a new line, met and courted Helen Lee. He would name the burgeoning rail station that fed the rolling mill after her and, eventually, changing the town name to Helena.
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