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How to Choose the Right Welder Technical School near Florence Alabama

Florence Alabama construction welder at work siteChoosing the ideal welder trade school near Florence AL is an important first step to starting your new career as a professional welder. But since there are so many schools to select from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more significantly, once you have fine tuned your alternatives, how do you pick the right one? Many people begin by checking out the schools that are nearest to their residences. Once they have found those that are within commuting distance, they are drawn toward the least costly one. Yes, location and tuition cost are important issues when examining welding technical schools, but they are not the only ones. Other concerns 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 prudent to establish a list of qualifications that your chosen school must have. But before we explore our due diligence checklist, let's talk a little bit about how to become a welder.

Welder Degree and Certificate Training

Florence Alabama welder working in fabrication shop

There are several alternatives available to obtain training as a welder in a technical or trade school. You can obtain a diploma, a certificate or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are available in Welding Technology or Welding Engineering, but are more advanced degrees than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Below are brief summaries of the most common welding programs offered in the Florence AL area.

  • Diploma and Certificate Programs are normally offered by trade and technical schools and take about 1 year to complete. They are more hands-on training in scope, designed mainly to teach welding skills. They can provide a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or additional skills for experienced welders.
  • Associate Degree Programs will take two years to finish and are usually offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology furnishes a more well-rounded 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 prerequisites for welders, therefore be sure to find out for your location of potential employment. If needed, the welding school you choose should ready you for any licensing examinations that you will have to pass in addition to providing the proper training to become a qualified welder.

Welding Certification Choices

Florence Alabama welder welding metal table

There are multiple organizations that offer welding certifications, which assess the knowledge and skill level of those applying. A large number of Florence AL employers not only demand a certificate or degree from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a highly regarded agency like the American Welding Society (AWS). A variety of certifications are offered based upon the kind of work that the welder does. Some of the things that certification can attest to are the welder's ability to

  • Operate in compliance with specific codes
  • Work with certain metal thicknesses
  • Work with certain kinds of welds
  • Work according to contract specifications

As already stated, many cities, states or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those calling for licensing, many additionally require certification for various kinds of work. Certification is also a means to demonstrate to employers that you are a highly skilled and qualified welder. So similarly as with licensing, look into the requirements for your location and make sure that the welding trade school you decide on prepares you for certification if needed.

Subjects to Ask Welding Trade Programs

Florence Alabama welder welding metal electrical pole

When you have chosen the credential you would like to earn, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can start to evaluate schools. As you probably know, there are numerous welder trade and vocational schools in the Florence AL area. That's why it's important to determine in advance what qualifications your selected school must have. We have already covered two significant ones that many people consider first, which are location and tuition cost. As stated, although they are essential qualifiers, they are not the only ones that need to be considered. After all, the school you select is going to furnish the education that will be the foundation of your new profession as a welder. So below are more factors you might want to consider before selecting a welding vocational school.

Accreditation. It's very important that the welder technical school you select is accredited by either a regional or a national organization. There are 2 basic types of accreditation. The school may earn 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 organization, such as the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping ensure that you obtain a quality education, the accreditation may also assist in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently not offered in Florence AL for non-accredited schools. Also, for those states or local governments that mandate licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited as well.

Apprenticeship and Job Placement Programs. Many welder diploma or degree programs are offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Some other schools will assist in placing you in an apprenticeship or a job upon graduation. Ask if the schools you are considering assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. These schools should have relationships with local unions and other metal working businesses to which they can place their students. More established schools may have a larger network of graduates that they can utilize for placements. These programs can assist students in finding employment and establish relationships within the Florence AL welding community.

Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that start an instructional program and finish it. It's crucial that the welder school you pick has a high completion rate. A reduced rate might indicate that the students who were 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 quality of training. A high job placement rate will not only confirm that the program has an excellent reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of Florence AL employer relationships to help students obtain employment or apprenticeships after graduation.

Up-to-date Equipment and Facilities. After you have decreased your choice of welding programs to two or three options, you should consider going to the campuses to look over 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 using 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 Florence AL welding contractor if they can give you a few tips.

School Location. Even though we already briefly covered the importance of location, there are a few additional points that we need to cover. You should keep in mind that unless you have the ability to move, the welder program you pick must be within commuting distance of your Florence AL home. If you do decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there could be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly true for welder degree programs offered by community colleges. Furthermore, if the school offers an apprenticeship or job placement program, most likely their placements are within the school's local community. So the location of the school should be in a region or state where you ultimately will wish to work.

Small Classes. Individualized training is important for a manual trade such as welding. It's easy to be overlooked in bigger classes and not receive much personalized instruction. Find out what the usual class size is for the welder schools you are looking at. Ask if you can attend a few classes so that you can see just how much individual attention the students are getting. While there, talk with some of the students and get their evaluations. Also, talk with a few of the teachers and find out what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they hold.

Convenient Class Scheduling. Some people learn a new profession while still working at their current job. Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Florence AL, verify that the schools you are considering provide those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you pick offers part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the protocol is to make up classes if you you miss any due to work, sickness or family emergencies.

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Find the Best Florence Welding School for Certification

Choosing the best welding school will probably be the most critical decision you will make to launch your new profession. As we have covered in this article, there are several things that you will need to evaluate and compare among the schools you are looking at. It's a necessity that any welder training that you are examining includes a considerable amount of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be smaller in size and every student should have their own welding machine to train with. Classroom education should provide a real-world frame of reference, and the curriculum should be current and in-line with industry standards. Training programs differ in duration and the type of credential provided, so you will need to determine what length of program and degree or certificate will best satisfy your needs. Every program offers different options for certification also. Perhaps The ideal way to research your final 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 certain that you are confident that the school you choose is the right one for you. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, the end outcome will be a new career as a professional welder in Florence AL.

 

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