How to Select a Welder Certification Program near Florence Alabama
Choosing the ideal welding school near Florence AL is an important first step to launching your new career as a professional welder. But since there are numerous schools to select from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more importantly, once you have fine tuned your alternatives, how do you pick the right one? A number of people start by looking at the schools that are closest to their homes. Once they have identified those that are within commuting distance, they are drawn toward the least expensive one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are important issues when reviewing welder vocational schools, but they are not the only ones. Other considerations include such things as accreditation, reputation and job placement rates. So before initiating your search for a trade school to become a welder, it’s sensible to establish a list of qualifications that your selected school must have. But before we explore our due diligence checklist, let’s talk a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welding Certificate and Degree Programs
There are a number of options available to obtain 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 Engineering or Welding Technology, but are more advanced degrees than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Following are short descriptions of the most common welding programs available near Florence AL.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are generally offered by Florence AL area trade and technical schools and require about 1 year to finish. They are more hands-on training in scope, created primarily to teach 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 finish and are most often offered by Alabama community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology offers a more extensive education than the diploma or certificate while still supplying the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
Many municipalities and states do have licensing requirements for welders, therefore be sure to find out for your location of future employment. If required, the welder school you pick should prep you for any licensing examinations that you will have to pass in addition to providing the appropriate training to become a qualified welder in Florence AL.
Welder Certification Options
There are multiple institutions that provide welding certifications, which assess the skill level and knowledge of those applying. A large number of Florence AL employers not only require a degree or certificate from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a renowned organization such as the American Welding Society (AWS). A variety of certifications are offered dependent on 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 specific metal thicknesses
- Work with various types of welds
- Operate in compliance with contract specifications
As previously stated, many cities, states or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those calling for licensing, a number also require certification for different types of work. Certification is also a means to demonstrate to Florence AL employers that you are an extremely skilled and knowledgeable welder. So similarly as with licensing, look into the requirements for your local area and make certain that the welder vocational school you decide on prepares you for certification if needed.
Online Welding Classes
Welding is very much a manual kind of vocation, and for that reason not very suitable for online training. However, there are a few online welding courses offered by specific community colleges and technical schools that can be credited toward a certificate or degree program. These classes mainly cover such topics as safety, reading blueprints, and metallurgy. They can help provide a novice a foundation to initiate their training and education. However, the most significant point is that you can’t learn how to weld or use welding materials unless you actually do it. Clearly that can’t be accomplished online. These skills have to be learned in an on-campus setting or in an apprenticeship near Florence AL. Online or distance learning is more appropriate for seasoned welders that desire to advance their expertise or perhaps attain a more advanced degree. So if you should find an online welding degree or certificate program, be extremely careful and make certain that the majority of the training is done on campus or in a workshop type of setting.
How to Choose a Welder Technical School
As soon as you have chosen the credential you want to obtain, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can begin to evaluate schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are numerous welder vocational and trade schools in the Florence AL area. That’s why it’s necessary to decide up front what qualifications your selected school must have. We have already discussed two significant ones that most people look at first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As stated, although they are very important qualifications, they are not the only ones that need to be looked at. After all, the school you select is going to furnish the instruction that will be the foundation of your new profession as a welder. So below are some additional factors you may need to evaluate before choosing a welder technical school.
Accreditation. It’s essential that the Florence AL welding vocational school you select is accredited by either a regional or a national organization. There are 2 standard kinds of accreditation. The school may earn Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on an individual program the school offers, for example Welding Technology. So verify that the program you pick is accredited, not just the school alone. Also, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, such as the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping make sure that you obtain a superior education, the accreditation may also assist in getting financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently not offered for non-accredited schools. Finally, for those states or municipalities that mandate licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited as well.
Apprenticeship and Job Placement Programs. A large number of welding certificate or degree programs are provided in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Some other schools will help place you in an apprenticeship or a job after graduation. Find out if the schools you are looking at help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. The schools must have partnerships with local unions and other Florence AL 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 referrals. These programs can help students find employment and develop associations within the local 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 crucial that the welding school you select has a high completion rate. A lower rate might mean that the students who enrolled in the program were dissatisfied with the training, 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 affirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of Florence AL contacts to assist students secure apprenticeships or employment after graduation.
Modern Equipment and Facilities. After you have limited your selection of welder schools to two or three options, you should consider going to the campuses to inspect their facilities. Confirm that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be taught on are up-to-date. Specifically, 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, consult with the master welder you are working under for guidance. If not, ask a local Florence AL welding professional if they can give you a few pointers.
School Location. Although we previously briefly discussed the importance of location, there are a few additional points that we should address. You should bear in mind that unless you are able to move, the welding school you select needs to be within driving distance of your Florence AL home. If you do choose to enroll in an out-of-state school, apart from moving costs there may be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially true for welding diploma programs offered by community colleges. Additionally, if the school provides 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 an area or state where you subsequently will want to work.
Small Classes. Individualized instruction is essential for a manual trade such as welding. It’s possible to be lost in larger classes and not receive much personalized training. Ask what the typical class size is for the welding schools you are reviewing. Inquire if you can sit in on a few classes so that you can witness how much individual attention the students are getting. While there, talk with some of the students and get their evaluations. Also, talk to a few of the teachers and ask what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they have earned.
Convenient Class Scheduling. Many people learn a new profession while still employed at their present job. Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are considering are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Florence AL, confirm that the schools you are considering provide those choices. If you can only attend part-time, confirm that the school you choose offers part-time enrollment. Also, check to see what the protocol is to make up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Being a Welder in Florence AL
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.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Florence has a total area of 25.0 square miles (65 km2), of which 24.9 square miles (64 km2) is land, and 0.1 square miles (0.26 km2) (0.40%) is water. Florence is located on Wilson Lake and Pickwick Lake, bodies of water on the Tennessee River dammed by Pickwick Dam and Wilson Dams. Pickwick Lake was created by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), one of several alphabet agencies of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's New Deal. Wilson Dam (currently operated by the TVA) was authorized by President Woodrow Wilson in 1918 and was the first dam constructed on the Tennessee River.
Select the Right Welding Tech Program Florence AL
Picking the right welder school will undoubtedly be the most important decision you will make to launch your new career. As we have covered in this article, there are many factors that you will need to evaluate and compare between the schools you are reviewing. It’s a prerequisite that any welder school that you are evaluating includes a lot of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be smaller in size and each student should have their own welding machine to train on. Classroom teaching should offer a real-world frame of reference, and the course of study 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 need to ascertain what length of program and certificate or degree will best serve your needs. Each program offers different possibilities for certification also. Perhaps the best means to research your final list of schools is to go to each campus and talk with the faculty and students. Take the time to sit in on a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the training program you choose is the best one for you. With the right training, effort and commitment, the end outcome will be a new career as a professional welder in Florence AL.