How to Pick the Best Welder Certification Classes near Roanoke Alabama
Locating the right welding trade school near Roanoke AL is an essential first step to launching your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are so many schools to pick from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more importantly, once you have narrowed down your options, how do you select the best one? Many prospective students begin by reviewing the schools that are nearest to their residences. Once they have located those that are within commuting distance, they gravitate toward the least expensive one. Yes, location and tuition cost are important issues when evaluating welding trade schools, but they are not the only ones. Other concerns include such things as reputation, accreditation and job placement rates. So before starting your search for a vocational school to become a welder, it's wise to establish a list of qualifications that your chosen school must have. But before we explore our due diligence checklist, let's talk a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welder Degree and Certificate Training
There are several options to obtain training as a welder in a trade or vocational school. You can receive a diploma, a certificate or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are offered in Welding Technology or Welding Engineering, but are more advanced programs than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also offered along with an apprenticeship program. Below are brief summaries of the most typical welding programs offered in the Roanoke AL area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are generally offered by technical and trade schools and require about one year to complete. They are more hands-on training in scope, designed primarily to teach welding skills. They can furnish a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or supplemental 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 providing the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
Some states and municipalities do have licensing requirements for welders, therefore be sure to find out for your location of potential employment. If needed, the welding school you choose should prep you for any licensing examinations that you will need to pass in addition to supplying the appropriate training to become a professional welder.
Welding Certification Choices
There are a number of institutions that offer welder certifications, which test the knowledge and skill level of those applying. Numerous Roanoke AL employers not only demand a degree or certificate from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a highly regarded organization such as the American Welding Society (AWS). A wide range of certifications are offered dependent on the type of work that the welder does. Just some of the skills that certification can attest to are the welder's ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specific metal thicknesses
- Work with specific types of welds
- Operate based on contract specifications
As previously mentioned, many cities, states or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those mandating 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 knowledgeable welder. So just as with licensing, check the requirements for your local area and verify that the welder trade school you decide on preps you for certification as needed.
Subjects to Ask Welding Vocational Schools
Once you have chosen the credential you would like to earn, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can begin to evaluate schools. As you can imagine, there are numerous welder vocational and trade schools in the Roanoke AL area. That's why it's important to establish up front what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have already discussed two important ones that most people consider first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As mentioned, although they are very important qualifiers, they are not the only ones that need to be considered. After all, the program you choose is going to provide the education that will be the foundation of your new career as a welder. So following are more factors you might need to evaluate before selecting a welding trade school.
Accreditation. It's extremely important that the welding tech school you decide on is accredited by either a regional or a national agency. There are two standard types of accreditation. The school may attain Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on an individual program the school has, for instance Welding Technology. So make certain that the program you select is accredited, not just the school alone. Additionally, 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). Besides helping make sure that you obtain a superior education, the accreditation may also assist in getting financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases not offered in Roanoke AL for non-accredited schools. Finally, for those states or municipalities that mandate licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited also.
Job Assistance and Apprenticeship Programs. Many welder certificate or degree programs are offered combined with an apprenticeship program. Other schools will assist in placing you in an apprenticeship or a job after graduation. Ask if the schools you are reviewing assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. These schools should have relationships with local unions and other metal working businesses to which they can place their students. More established schools may have a more substantial network of graduates that they can rely upon for placements. These programs can help students find employment and develop relationships within the Roanoke 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 welder school you pick has a higher completion rate. A reduced rate could signify that the students who enrolled in the program were unhappy 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 industry, but also that it has the network of Roanoke AL employer relationships to help students secure apprenticeships or employment upon graduation.
Up-to-date Equipment and Facilities. After you have decreased your choice of welding schools to two or three options, you should consider going to the campuses to evaluate their facilities. Make sure that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are up-to-date. Specifically, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be using on the job. If you are uncertain what to look for, and are already in an apprenticeship program, ask the master welder you are working under for guidance. If not, ask a local Roanoke AL welding contractor if they can give you a few tips.
School Location. Even though we already briefly talked about the significance of location, there are a couple of additional issues that we should address. You should keep in mind that unless you can move, the welder school you select needs to be within commuting distance of your Roanoke AL home. If you do choose to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there may be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly the case for welding diploma programs offered by community colleges. Furthermore, if the school offers an apprenticeship or job placement program, more than 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 desire to work.
Small Classes. Individualized instruction is important for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's easy to get overlooked in larger classes and not receive much personalized instruction. Ask what the usual class size is for the welder programs you are looking at. Inquire if you can sit in on a couple of classes so that you can observe just how much individual attention the students are getting. While there, talk with some of the students and get their evaluations. Similarly, chat with some of the trainers and ask what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they have earned.
Convenient Class Schedules. Some people learn a new trade while still working at their current job. Make sure that the class schedules for the schools you are looking at are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Roanoke AL, verify that the schools you are looking at offer those options. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you choose offers part-time enrollment. Also, check to see what the policy is to make up classes if you you miss any due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
Choose the Right Roanoke Welding Program for Certification
Picking the best welding school will undoubtedly be the most important decision you will make to begin your new trade. As we have covered in this article, there are several things that you will need to assess and compare between the programs you are reviewing. It's a necessity that any welder training program that you are reviewing includes a considerable amount of hands-on training. Classes need to be small in size and each student should have their personal welding machine to train on. Classroom education needs to offer a real-world context, and the course of study should be current and in-line with industry standards. Programs differ in length and the type of credential offered, so you will need to ascertain what length of program and credential will best serve your needs. Each program provides different options for certification as well. Perhaps the best way to research your short list of schools is to visit each campus and talk with the faculty and students. Take the time to monitor some classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the school you choose is the ideal one for you. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, the final outcome will be a new career as a professional welder in Roanoke AL.