How to Find the Right Welder Trade School near Florence Alabama
Enrolling in the ideal welding school near Florence AL is an important first step to starting your new career 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 fine tuned your alternatives, how do you pick the best one? A number of people begin by looking at the schools that are nearest to their residences. Once they have found those that are within commuting distance, they are drawn toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are important issues when reviewing welding trade schools, but they are not the only ones. Other considerations include such things as accreditation, reputation 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 school must have. But before we delve into our due diligence checklist, let's talk a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welder Degree and Certificate Training
There are a number of options available to get training as a welder in a technical or trade 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 programs than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also offered along with an apprenticeship program. Below are short descriptions of the most common welding programs available in the Florence AL area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are generally made available by technical and trade schools and require about 1 year to complete. They are more hands-on training in scope, created primarily 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 complete and are most often offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology provides a more extensive education than the certificate or diploma while still providing the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
Some municipalities and states do have licensing requirements for welders, so be sure to check for your location of potential employment. If required, the welder school you select should prep you for any licensing examinations that you will need to pass in addition to providing the suitable training to become a professional welder.
Welder Certification Options
There are several institutions that offer welder certifications, which evaluate the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Numerous Florence AL employers not only demand a certificate or degree from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a respected agency like the American Welding Society (AWS). A wide range of certifications are offered dependent on the type of work that the welder performs. A few of the things that certification can attest to are the welder's ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specified metal thicknesses
- Work with various kinds of welds
- Perform according to contract specifications
As previously mentioned, various cities, states or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those calling for licensing, many additionally require certification for different types of work. Certification is also a way to demonstrate to employers that you are an exceptionally skilled and experienced welder. So similarly as with licensing, look into the requirements for your location and confirm that the welding vocational school you select preps you for certification as needed.
Questions to Ask Welding Technical Programs
After you have decided on the credential you want to attain, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can start to compare schools. As you probably know, there are numerous welding vocational and trade schools in the Florence AL area. That's why it's necessary to establish up front what qualifications your selected school must have. We have already discussed a couple of important ones that most people consider 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 school you pick is going to provide the education that will be the foundation of your new vocation as a welder. So following are some additional factors you might need to evaluate before choosing a welder tech school.
Accreditation. It's essential that the welder tech school you pick is accredited by either a regional or a national organization. There are 2 standard kinds of accreditation. The school may attain Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a single program the school offers, for example Welding Technology. So verify that the program you pick is accredited, not just the school itself. Additionally, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, for example the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping make sure that you obtain an excellent education, the accreditation may also help in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable in Florence AL for schools that are not accredited. Also, for those states or municipalities that mandate licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited as well.
Job Assistance and Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous welding degree or diploma programs are offered in conjunction 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 must have relationships with local unions and other metal working businesses to which they can refer their students. Older schools may have a more substantial network of graduates that they can rely upon for placements. These programs can help students find employment and establish relationships within the Florence AL welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that enroll in an educational program and finish it. It's essential that the welding school you pick has a high completion rate. A low rate might mean that the students who enrolled in the program were dissatisfied with the instruction, the teachers, or the facilities, and quit. The job placement rate is also an indication of the quality of training. A higher job placement rate will not only affirm that the program has a good reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of Florence AL employer relationships to assist students secure employment or apprenticeships after graduation.
Modern Equipment and Facilities. After you have narrowed down your choice of welding schools to 2 or 3 possibilities, you should consider visiting the campuses to inspect their facilities. Make sure that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be instructed on are modern. In particular, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be working with in the field. If you are unsure 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 Florence AL welding professional if they can give you some suggestions.
School Location. Even though we previously briefly covered the relevance of location, there are a few additional issues that we should address. You should keep in mind that unless you have the ability to move, the welder school you pick needs to be within commuting distance of your Florence AL home. If you do choose to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides relocation expenses there may be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly true for welder diploma programs offered by community colleges. Also, if the school offers 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 an area or state where you subsequently will wish to work.
Smaller Classes. Personalized instruction is essential for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's easy to be lost in larger classes and not get much personalized training. Ask what the average 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 experience just how much personal attention the students are receiving. While there, talk with a few of the students and get their evaluations. Also, talk to a few of the teachers and find out what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they hold.
Flexible Class Scheduling. Lots of folks learn a new profession while still employed at their present job. Check to see that the class schedules for the schools you are looking at are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Florence AL, make certain that the schools you are reviewing offer those options. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you decide on offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the policy is to make up classes if you you miss any due to work, sickness or family responsibilities.
Find the Best Florence Welding Program for Certification
Choosing the right welding school will undoubtedly be the most critical decision you will make to launch your new profession. As we have discussed in this article, there are a number of factors that you will need to assess and compare between the programs you are considering. It's a necessity that any welding school that you are examining includes a considerable amount of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be small in size and every student must have their own welding machine to train on. Classroom teaching needs to provide a real-world frame of reference, and the training program should be current and in-line with industry standards. Training programs vary in length and the kind of credential offered, so you will have to determine what length of program and degree or certificate will best fulfill your needs. Each training program offers unique possibilities for certification as well. Perhaps The ideal way to research your short list of schools is to go to each campus and speak with the teachers and students. Take the time to attend a few classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the school you choose is the ideal one for you. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, the final outcome will be a new career as a professional welder in Florence AL.