How to Enroll In the Right Welder Training Program near Florence Alabama
Locating the ideal welding school near Florence AL is an important first step to starting your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are numerous schools to choose from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more significantly, once you have narrowed down your options, how do you select the best one? A number of people begin by looking at the schools that are closest to their homes. When they have located those that are within driving distance, they are drawn toward the least costly one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are important considerations when examining welder vocational 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 sensible 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.
Welding Certificate and Degree Training Courses
There are several options to receive training as a welder in a trade or technical school. You can obtain a a certificate, a diploma or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are offered 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. Following are short explanations of the most common welding programs available in the Florence AL area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are usually offered by trade and technical schools and take about a year to finish. They are more hands-on training in scope, fashioned largely to develop welding skills. They can furnish a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or specialized 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 furnishes a more well-rounded education than the diploma or certificate while still supplying the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
Some municipalities and states do have licensing requirements for welders, so be sure to check for your location of future employment. As needed, the welding school you select should prepare you for any licensing exams that you will need to take in addition to providing the suitable training to become a professional welder.
Welder Certification Options
There are several institutions that offer welding certifications, which test the skill level and knowledge of those applying. A large number of Florence AL employers not only expect 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 offered dependent on the kind 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 specific metal thicknesses
- Work with certain kinds of welds
- Perform according to contract specifications
As already stated, various states, cities or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those calling for licensing, a number additionally require certification for different types of work. Certification is also a means to prove to employers that you are a highly skilled and experienced welder. So just as with licensing, look into the requirements for your location and confirm that the welder trade school you select readies you for certification if needed.
What to Ask Welder Tech Schools
Once you have decided on the credential you want to attain, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can begin to compare schools. As you can imagine, there are numerous welding vocational and trade schools in the Florence AL area. That's why it's essential to decide in advance what qualifications your chosen school must have. We have already discussed 2 important ones that many people consider first, which are location and tuition cost. As stated, although they are very important qualifiers, they are not the only ones that need to be looked at. After all, the school you decide on is going to provide 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 selecting a welding vocational school.
Accreditation. It's extremely important that the welder tech school you decide on is accredited by either a regional or a national agency. There are 2 basic types of accreditation. The school may receive Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on an individual program the school has, for example Welding Technology. So verify that the program you pick is accredited, not just the school itself. Also, 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). In addition to helping make sure that you get a quality education, the accreditation might also help in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are often not offered in Florence AL for schools that are not accredited. Finally, for those states or municipalities that require licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited also.
Job Assistance and Apprenticeship Programs. Many welder degree or certificate programs are offered combined with an apprenticeship program. Some other schools will assist in placing you in a job or an apprenticeship after graduation. Find out if the schools you are reviewing assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. These schools must have associations with local unions and various 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 develop associations within the Florence AL welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that start an educational program and complete it. It's essential that the welding program you select has a higher completion rate. A reduced rate may indicate that the students who were in the program were unhappy with the training, the instructors, or the facilities, and quit. The job placement rate is also a good indicator of the caliber of training. A high job placement rate will not only confirm that the school has a good reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of Florence AL employer relationships to assist students obtain employment or apprenticeships after graduation.
Modern Facilities and Equipment. After you have decreased your selection of welder programs to two or three possibilities, 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 in the field. If you are not sure what to look for, and are currently in an apprenticeship program, ask the master welder you are working under for guidance. Otherwise, ask a local Florence AL welding professional if they can give you a few suggestions.
School Location. Even though we already briefly covered the importance of location, there are a few additional issues that we should address. You should bear in mind that unless you are able to move, the welder school you choose needs to be within driving distance of your Florence AL home. If you do opt to enroll in an out-of-state school, apart from moving expenses there may be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly the case for welding degree programs offered by community colleges. Furthermore, 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 want to work.
Small Classes. Individualized training is important 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 average class size is for the welder programs you are reviewing. Ask if you can attend a few classes so that you can see how much personal attention the students are getting. While there, speak with several of the students and get their evaluations. Also, speak with a few of the instructors and ask what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they have earned.
Flexible Class Schedules. Some people learn a new profession while still employed at their current job. Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are considering are convenient enough to satisfy your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Florence AL, verify that the schools you are looking at offer those options. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, confirm that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, check to see what the policy is to make up classes if you you miss any because of illness, work or family circumstances.
Choose the Right Florence Welding Training for Certification
Selecting the right 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 several things that you will need to assess and compare between the programs you are looking at. It's a necessity that any welder training program that you are reviewing includes a lot of hands-on instruction. Classes should be smaller in size and every student must have their own welding machine to train on. Classroom education needs to provide a real-world perspective, and the course of study should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Programs differ in length and the kind of credential offered, so you will need to ascertain what length of program and certificate or degree will best fulfill your needs. Each program provides unique options for certification also. Probably the best means to research your final list of schools is to visit each campus and talk with the students and instructors. Invest some time to sit in on a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the program you choose is the best one for you. With the right training, effort and commitment, the final outcome will be a new career as a professional welder in Florence AL.