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I Forge Iron

Trying to figure out how to get trained.

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I am a big fan of technical colleges too. However, I wouldn't rule out the regular college route if you can do it. You mentioned Colorado School of Mines. That is a renowned school for metallurgy. If that is an option it is worth considering strongly. Welding and machining are great occupations but in the long run you will be likely to have more opportunities and a greater ability to determine your own path with a four year degree.
I started out in the same spot you are in many years ago. I almost took an apprenticeship but finally chose to go to college. I graduated with a degree in art but also a fair amount of math, science, and engineering under my belt. I went to work as an industrial blacksmith. Then I ran my own shop for several years. Eventually, I decided I did not want to continue with smithing as my full time career. I was lucky enough to be able to complete a materials science program, I now work as a quality guy- basically a plant metallurgist. I still have a lot of fun with metal but it is in a different capacity. The opportunity for me to shift gears like that really was in large part due to having the initial degree.

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Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, IL has a Blacksmith Degree program. You might consider that program. I second the military suggestion as it gives both training/experience and has education benefits during and after service. You have to do what is right for you though. Only you know what best suits you! I did both military and college. I've never regretted getting my degree but I think I'd have been happier if I'd gone to a trade school instead of college and I would have saved myself a lot of money.

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If you want to know what they supply and what you need to bring CALL THEM not us! Answering such questions is part of their job! I'd guess that a lot of bandanas to use to keep sweat out of your eyes would be a good idea if this course in is the summer in VA.

I don't use gloves in my shop save under certain conditions and pretty much never on my hammer hand.

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