How to Pick the Right Welding Training Program near Florence Alabama
Choosing the right welding technical school near Florence AL is an essential first step to starting your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are so many schools to select from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more notably, once you have narrowed down your options, how do you pick the right one? Most people start by reviewing the schools that are closest to their homes. When they have found those that are within driving distance, they are drawn toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are important issues when examining welding technical schools, but they are not the only ones. Other factors include such things as reputation, accreditation and job placement rates. So before beginning your search for a trade school to become a welder, it’s sensible to create a list of qualifications that your selected school must have. But before we explore our due diligence checklist, let’s cover a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welding Certificate and Degree Programs
There are multiple options to get training as a welder in a trade or vocational 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 courses than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Below are brief summaries of the most common welding programs offered in the Florence AL.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are normally offered by technical and trade schools and take about one year to finish. They are more hands-on training in nature, created 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 2 years to finish 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 furnishing the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
A number of states and municipalities do have licensing requirements for welders, therefore don’t forget to check for your location of potential employment. As required, the welding school you select should prep you for any licensing examinations that you will need to take in addition to furnishing the proper training to become a professional welder.
Welder Certification Choices
There are various institutions that provide welder certifications, which test the knowledge and skill level of those applying. Many Florence AL employers not only demand a degree or certificate from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a highly regarded agency like the American Welding Society (AWS). Different certifications are available based on the type of work that the welder performs. Some of the skills that certification can acknowledge are the welder’s ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specific metal thicknesses
- Work with certain types of welds
- Perform in compliance with contract specifications
As previously mentioned, many states, cities or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those requiring licensing, some also require certification for different kinds of work. Certification is also a way to prove to employers that you are a highly skilled and qualified welder. So similarly as with licensing, check the requirements for your local area and make sure that the welding trade school you select preps you for certification if needed.
Questions to Ask Welder Trade Schools
Once you have chosen the credential you would like to earn, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can begin to compare schools. As you probably know, there are a large number of welder vocational and trade schools in the Florence AL area. That’s why it’s essential to establish up front what qualifications your chosen school must have. We have previously covered 2 significant ones that most people look at first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As mentioned, although they are essential qualifiers, they are not the only ones that should be looked at. After all, the school you pick is going to furnish the training that will be the foundation of your new profession as a welder. So below are some additional factors you may want to consider before picking a welding trade school.
Accreditation. It’s essential that the welding trade school you choose is accredited by either a national or a regional organization. There are two standard kinds 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 example Welding Technology. So make sure that the program you select is accredited, not just the school itself. 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 an excellent education, the accreditation might also assist in getting financial aid or student loans, which are often 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 welding training program be accredited as well.
Apprenticeship and Job Assistance Programs. Many welding degree or diploma programs are offered combined with an apprenticeship program. Various other schools will assist in placing you in a job or an apprenticeship after graduation. Ask if the schools you are considering assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. These schools should have partnerships with local unions and other metal working businesses to which they can refer their students. More established schools may have a more substantial network of graduates that they can rely upon for placements. These programs can assist students in finding employment and establish associations within the Florence AL welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that start an academic program and finish it. It’s important that the welding school you select has a high completion rate. A low rate may mean that the students who joined the program were dissatisfied with the instruction, the instructors, or the facilities, and dropped out. The job placement rate is also a good indicator 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 also that it has the network of Florence AL employer relationships to assist students secure apprenticeships or employment upon graduation.
Up-to-date Facilities and Equipment. Once you have limited your selection of welding programs to 2 or 3 possibilities, you should think out going to the campuses to evaluate their facilities. Confirm that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be instructed on are up-to-date. In particular, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be using in the field. 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 professional if they can give you a few suggestions.
School Location. Even though we already briefly discussed the importance of location, there are a few additional issues that we need to address. You should remember that unless you can relocate, the welder program you pick needs to be within driving distance of your Florence AL home. If you do opt to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides moving costs there might be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially the case for welder diploma programs offered by community colleges. Also, if the school offers a job placement or apprenticeship program, often their placements are within the school’s local community. So the location of the school needs to be in an area or state where you ultimately will wish to work.
Small Classes. Personalized training is essential for a hands-on trade such as welding. It’s possible to get lost in larger classes and not receive much individualized instruction. Ask what the typical class size is for the welder schools you are reviewing. Ask if you can attend a couple of 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 opinions. Also, speak with a couple of the teachers and ask what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they hold.
Convenient Class Scheduling. Some people learn a new trade while still working at their present job. Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are considering are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Florence AL, confirm that the schools you are assessing offer those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you pick offers part-time enrollment. Also, check to see what the policy is to make up classes should you miss any due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Online Welder Schools
Welding is truly a manual kind of trade, and for that reason not very compatible with training online. Even so, there are a few online welding courses offered by various community colleges and trade schools in the greater Florence AL area that can be credited toward a certificate or degree program. These classes primarily deal with such topics as reading blueprints, safety,, and metallurgy. They can help give a novice a foundation to start their education and training. However, the most important point is that you can’t learn how to weld or work with welding materials unless you actually do it. Obviously that can’t be accomplished online. These skills must be learned in an on-campus environment or in an apprenticeship. Online or distance learning is more appropriate for seasoned welders that want to advance their expertise or perhaps attain a more advanced degree. So if you should find an online welding certificate or degree program, be very cautious and verify that the majority of the training is done on campus or in a workshop type of setting.
Attending a Welding School in Florence AL?
If you have decided to enroll in a welder training program in the Florence Alabama area, you may find the following information both informative and helpful about the location of your new school campus.
Florence is the largest and principal city of the Florence-Muscle Shoals Metropolitan Statistical Area (which includes Muscle Shoals, Sheffield, and Tuscumbia metropolitan areas in Colbert and Lauderdale counties). Florence is considered northwestern Alabama's primary economic hub.
Annual tourism events include the W. C. Handy Music Festival in the summer and the Renaissance Faire in the fall. Landmarks in Florence include the Rosenbaum House, the only Frank Lloyd Wright-designed home located in Alabama.
Florence and Lauderdale County have one hospital, Eliza Coffee Memorial Hospital. ECM is a 358 bed facility owned by RCCH HealthCare Partners in Brentwood, Tennessee. In 2010 RCCH HealthCare Partners announced that they would build a new hospital in Florence. The hospital is due to be completed in December 2018.
Select the Right Welding Technical School Florence AL
Selecting the right welding school will probably be the most important decision you will make to start your new trade. You originally stopped by our website because you had an interest in Local Welding Classes. However, as we have addressed in this article, there are a number of things that you will need to assess and compare between the schools you are considering. It’s a necessity that any welder training program that you are reviewing includes a considerable amount of hands-on instruction. Classes should be smaller in size and each student must have their own welding machine to train with. Classroom teaching should provide a real-world perspective, and the curriculum should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Training programs vary in duration and the type of credential offered, so you will have to determine what length of program and credential will best satisfy your needs. Every program provides unique options for certification as well. Probably The ideal approach to research your final list of schools is to visit each campus and speak with the students and faculty. Take the time to attend a few classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the program you choose is the right one for you. With the proper training, hard work and dedication, the end result will be a new occupation as a professional welder in Florence AL.