How to Find the Best Welding Degree Program near Opelika Alabama
Locating the right welding school near Opelika AL is an important first step to beginning your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are a lot of schools to choose from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more significantly, once you have narrowed down your choices, how do you pick the right one? Many people begin by looking at the schools that are closest to their homes. When they have located those that are within commuting distance, they gravitate toward the least costly one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are important considerations when examining welding vocational schools, but they are not the only ones. Other considerations 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 prudent 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.
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Welder Degree and Certificate Programs
There are a number of options to receive training as a welder in a trade or technical 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 programs than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also offered along with an apprenticeship program. Below are brief descriptions of the most prevalent welding programs offered in the Opelika AL area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are normally offered by technical and trade schools and take about 1 year to finish. They are more hands-on training in scope, designed largely to develop welding skills. They can provide a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or specialized skills for working welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take 2 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 municipalities and states do have licensing requirements for welders, so be sure to check for your location of future employment. If needed, the welding school you choose should ready you for any licensing exams that you will have to pass in addition to supplying the suitable training to become a qualified welder.
Welding Certification Alternatives
There are a number of organizations that offer welding certifications, which assess the skill level and knowledge of those applying. A large number of Opelika AL employers not only require a degree or certificate from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a highly regarded organization such as the American Welding Society (AWS). A variety of certifications are offered based upon the type of work that the welder performs. Some of the things that certification can acknowledge are the welder’s ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specified metal thicknesses
- Work with certain types of welds
- Work in compliance with contract specifications
As previously stated, some states, cities or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those calling for licensing, many additionally require certification for various types of work. Certification is also a way to demonstrate to employers that you are an extremely skilled and qualified welder. So similarly as with licensing, look into the requirements for your location and confirm that the welding vocational school you decide on prepares you for certification if needed.
Subjects to Ask Welder Technical Schools
As soon as you have chosen the credential you would like to obtain, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can begin to compare schools. As you probably know, there are numerous welder trade and technical schools in the Opelika AL area. That’s why it’s important to establish up front what qualifications your selected school must have. We have already discussed 2 important ones that many people look at first, which are location and tuition cost. As stated, although they are essential qualifications, they are not the only ones that should be looked at. After all, the program you choose is going to provide the instruction that will be the foundation of your new career as a welder. So following are more factors you may need to consider before selecting a welding trade school.
Accreditation. It’s very important that the welding technical 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 offers, such as Welding Technology. So make certain that the program you select is accredited, not just the school alone. Also, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, like 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 can also assist in securing financial aid or student loans, which are frequently unavailable in Opelika 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.
Job Assistance and Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous welder degree or certificate 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 considering assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. The schools must have associations with local unions and various metal working businesses to which they can place their students. More established schools may have a more substantial network of graduates that they can utilize for referrals. These programs can help students find employment and develop associations within the Opelika AL welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that begin an academic program and finish it. It’s essential that the welder school you pick has a higher completion rate. A lower rate might mean 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 verify that the school has a good reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of Opelika AL contacts to assist students obtain apprenticeships or employment after graduation.
Up-to-date Equipment and Facilities. Once you have narrowed down your choice of welder schools to 2 or 3 options, you should consider visiting the campuses to evaluate their facilities. Make sure that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be taught on are up-to-date. Specifically, the training equipment should be comparable to what you will be using 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. Otherwise, ask a local Opelika AL welding professional if they can give you some tips.
School Location. Even though we previously briefly talked about the importance of location, there are a few additional issues that we should cover. You should remember that unless you have the ability to relocate, the welding school you pick needs to be within driving distance of your Opelika AL home. If you do decide to attend an out-of-state school, apart from moving costs 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 a job placement or apprenticeship program, most likely their placements are within the school’s regional community. So the location of the school should be in an area or state where you ultimately will wish to work.
Small Classes. Individualized training is essential for a manual trade such as welding. It’s easy to get overlooked in larger classes and not obtain much individualized instruction. Ask what the typical class size is for the welder schools you are looking at. Ask if you can sit in on a few classes so that you can see just how much personal attention the students are receiving. While there, talk with some of the students and get their evaluations. Also, talk with a couple of the trainers and find out what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they have earned.
Flexible Class Scheduling. Many people learn a new trade while still employed at their present job. Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Opelika AL, verify that the schools you are reviewing provide those choices. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the school you choose offers part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the policy is to make up classes if you you miss any because of work, illness or family circumstances.
Online Welder Schools
Welding is truly a hands-on type of profession, and for that reason not very compatible with online training. Even so, there are some online welding programs offered by various community colleges and trade schools in the greater Opelika AL area that can count toward a certificate or degree program. These courses primarily cover such topics as reading blueprints, safety,, and metallurgy. They can help give a beginner a basis to start their training and education. Nevertheless, the most critical point is that you can’t learn how to weld or use welding materials unless you actually do it. Naturally that can’t be accomplished online. These skills must be learned in an on-campus setting or in an apprenticeship. Online or distance learning is better suited for seasoned welders that would like to advance their expertise or possibly attain a more advanced degree. So if you should discover an online welding degree or certificate program, be extremely cautious and make sure that the bulk of the training is done on campus or in a workshop type of setting.
Where to Find Evening Trade Schools for Welders Opelika AL
Selecting the right welder school will undoubtedly be the most critical decision you will make to begin your new profession. You originally stopped by our website because you had an interest in Where to Find Evening Trade Schools for Welders and wanted more information on the topic Free Info on Online Trade Schools for Welders. However, as we have covered in this article, there are several things that you will need to assess and compare between the schools you are looking at. It’s a must that any welding training program that you are assessing includes a considerable amount of hands-on instruction. Classes should be small in size and every student should have their own welding machine to train with. Classroom instruction should offer a real-world perspective, and the course of study should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Training programs differ in duration and the type of credential offered, so you will have to decide what length of program and degree or certificate will best satisfy your needs. Each training program offers unique possibilities for certification as well. Probably The ideal approach to research your short list of schools is to check out each campus and talk with the students and instructors. Take the time to monitor some classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the program you pick is the best one for you. With the proper training, effort and dedication, the final result will be a new trade as a professional welder in Opelika AL.
Other Alabama Welder Locations
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 U.S. state of Alabama. It is a principal city of the Auburn-Opelika Metropolitan Area. As of the 2010 census, the population of Opelika was 26,401, and in 2018 the estimated population was 30,555. The Auburn-Opelika, AL MSA with a population of 150,933, along with the Columbus, Georgia metropolitan area, comprises the Greater Columbus combined statistical area, 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.
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