How to Find the Right Welding Training Classes near Florence Alabama
Finding the ideal welder vocational school near Florence AL is an important first step to beginning 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 narrowed down your choices, how do you pick the best one? Many prospective students start by looking at the schools that are closest to their residences. When they have located those that are within commuting distance, they are drawn toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are important considerations when evaluating welder trade schools, but they are not the only ones. Other factors include such things as accreditation, reputation and job placement rates. So before starting your search for a vocational school to become a welder, it's wise to develop a list of qualifications that your chosen school must have. But before we examine our due diligence checklist, let's cover a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welder Degree and Certificate Training Courses
There are several alternatives available to obtain 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 Technology or Welding Engineering, but are more advanced programs than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Following are short explanations of the most common welding programs available in the Florence AL area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are generally made available by trade and technical schools and take about one year to complete. They are more hands-on training in scope, designed largely to develop welding skills. They can furnish a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or additional skills for working welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take 2 years to complete and are usually offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology offers a more extensive education than the diploma or certificate while still providing the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
Some states and municipalities do have licensing prerequisites for welders, therefore make sure to check for your location of potential employment. As needed, the welder school you pick should prepare you for any licensing examinations that you will have to pass in addition to furnishing the appropriate training to become a qualified welder.
Welding Certification Options
There are various institutions that offer welding certifications, which assess the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Many Florence AL employers not only require a degree or certificate from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a renowned agency such as the American Welding Society (AWS). Different certifications are offered based on the type of work that the welder does. A few of the skills that certification can acknowledge are the welder's ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specified metal thicknesses
- Work with specific types of welds
- Work according to contract specifications
As formerly mentioned, some cities, states or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those calling for licensing, a number additionally require certification for various types of work. Certification is also a means to prove to employers that you are an exceptionally skilled and knowledgeable welder. So similarly as with licensing, check the requirements for your local area and confirm that the welding technical school you choose preps you for certification as needed.
Topics to Ask Welder Vocational Schools
As soon as you have decided on the credential you would like to attain, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can begin to assess schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are numerous welder trade and technical schools in the Florence AL area. That's why it's important to decide in advance what qualifications your chosen school must have. We have previously covered two significant ones that most people look at first, which are location and tuition cost. As mentioned, although they are very important qualifications, they are not the only ones that must be looked at. After all, the school you choose is going to provide the training that will be the foundation of your new profession as a welder. So below are more factors you might want to evaluate before picking a welding trade school.
Accreditation. It's very important that the welding vocational school you decide on is accredited by either a regional or a national agency. There are two basic types of accreditation. The school may receive Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a single program the school has, for example Welding Technology. So confirm that the program you select is accredited, not just the school itself. Additionally, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, like the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping ensure that you receive a superior education, the accreditation can also help in getting financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently unavailable in Florence AL for schools that are not accredited. Also, for those states or local governments that require licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited also.
Job Placement and Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of welding degree or diploma programs are provided 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 looking at help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. The schools must have partnerships with local unions and various metal working businesses to which they can refer their students. Older schools may have a larger network of graduates that they can utilize for placements. These programs can assist students in finding employment and develop relationships within the Florence AL welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that start an educational program and complete it. It's crucial that the welding school you choose has a higher completion rate. A lower rate might indicate that the students who enrolled in the program were unhappy with the instruction, the teachers, or the facilities, and dropped out. The job placement rate is also an indication of the caliber of training. A higher job placement rate will not only confirm that the program has a good reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of Florence AL employer relationships to assist students obtain employment or apprenticeships upon graduation.
Up-to-date Facilities and Equipment. Once you have limited your choice of welder programs to 2 or 3 possibilities, you should consider visiting the campuses to look over their facilities. Make sure that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be instructed on are modern. Specifically, the training equipment should be comparable 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. If not, ask a local Florence AL welding contractor if they can give you some tips.
School Location. Even though we already briefly talked about the significance of location, there are a couple of additional points that we need to cover. You should remember that unless you can relocate, the welder program you pick must be within driving distance of your Florence AL home. If you do choose to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there might be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly true for welding degree programs offered by community colleges. Also, 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 needs to be in a region or state where you ultimately will wish to work.
Smaller Classes. Personalized instruction is essential for a manual trade such as welding. It's easy to be lost in bigger classes and not obtain much personalized training. Find out what the typical class size is for the welding programs you are looking at. Inquire if you can attend a few classes so that you can observe just how much individual attention the students are getting. While there, talk with a few of the students and get their feedback. Similarly, chat with some of the trainers and find out what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they have earned.
Flexible Class Schedules. Some people learn a new trade while still working at their present job. Confirm that the class schedules for the schools you are reviewing are convenient enough to meet your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Florence AL, confirm that the schools you are looking at provide those alternatives. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you decide on offers part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the protocol is to make up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family circumstances.
Find the Right Florence Welding School for Certification
Choosing the best welding training program will undoubtedly be the most important decision you will make to begin your new career. As we have addressed in this article, there are a number of things that you will need to evaluate and compare between the schools you are considering. It's a must that any welding training program that you are assessing includes a lot of hands-on instruction. Classes should be small in size and each 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 conform with industry standards. Programs vary in length and the type of credential offered, so you will need to decide what length of program and certificate or degree will best satisfy your needs. Every training program offers unique options for certification as well. Perhaps The ideal means to research your short list of schools is to go to each campus and speak with the students and faculty. Take the time to monitor a few classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the school you decide on is the ideal one for you. With the proper training, hard work and dedication, the end outcome will be a new trade as a professional welder in Florence AL.