How to Select the Right Welder Certificate Program near Roanoke Alabama
Locating the right welder technical school near Roanoke AL is an essential first step to beginning your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are numerous schools to choose from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more importantly, once you have fine tuned your options, how do you select the right one? Most prospective students begin by looking at the schools that are closest 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 welder vocational schools, but they are not the only ones. Other factors include such things as reputation, accreditation and job placement rates. So before initiating your search for a trade 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 cover a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welding Degree and Certificate Training Classes
There are a number of options to get training as a welder in a technical or trade school. You can obtain a a certificate, a diploma or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are available in Welding Engineering or Welding Technology, but are more advanced courses than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also offered along with an apprenticeship program. Below are brief summaries of the most common welding programs offered in the Roanoke AL area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are normally offered by technical and trade schools and require about one year to finish. They are more hands-on training in nature, fashioned largely to teach welding skills. They can furnish a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or additional 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 offers a more well-rounded education than the certificate or diploma while still providing the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
A number of municipalities and states do have licensing requirements for welders, therefore make sure to find out for your location of potential employment. If required, the welder school you choose should prep you for any licensing exams that you will have to take in addition to furnishing the appropriate training to become a professional welder.
Welder Certification Options
There are multiple organizations that offer welding certifications, which assess the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Many Roanoke AL employers not only require a degree or certificate from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a respected organization like the American Welding Society (AWS). A variety of certifications are available based upon the type of work that the welder performs. A few of the things that certification can acknowledge are the welder's ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specified metal thicknesses
- Work with various kinds of welds
- Work based on contract specifications
As already stated, many cities, states or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those calling for licensing, a number additionally require certification for different kinds of work. Certification is also a way to demonstrate to employers that you are an exceptionally skilled and knowledgeable welder. So just as with licensing, check the requirements for your location and make sure that the welding trade school you decide on prepares you for certification if needed.
Questions to Ask Welding Trade Schools
As soon as you have decided on the credential you want to attain, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can begin to compare schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are numerous welding trade and vocational schools in the Roanoke AL area. That's why it's necessary to establish in advance what qualifications your chosen school must have. We have already discussed two important ones that many people consider first, which are location and tuition cost. As stated, although they are essential qualifications, they are not the only ones that need to be considered. After all, the school you choose is going to provide the training that will be the foundation of your new profession as a welder. So following are more factors you may need to consider before choosing a welding technical school.
Accreditation. It's very important that the welder tech school you select is accredited by either a national or a regional agency. There are two standard kinds of accreditation. The school may attain Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a single program the school has, such as Welding Technology. So verify that the program you select is accredited, not just the school alone. Additionally, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, for example the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). In addition to helping ensure that you receive a quality education, the accreditation may also help in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable in Roanoke AL for non-accredited schools. Finally, for those states or municipalities that require licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited also.
Apprenticeship and Job Placement Programs. A large number of welder certificate or degree programs are offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Some other schools will help place you in a job or an apprenticeship upon graduation. Ask if the schools you are looking at assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. The schools must have relationships with local unions and other metal working businesses to which they can place their students. Older 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 relationships within the Roanoke AL welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that enroll in an academic program and complete it. It's essential that the welding program you select has a higher completion rate. A reduced rate might signify that the students who enrolled in the program were unhappy with the training, the instructors, or the facilities, and quit. The job placement rate is also an indication of the caliber of training. A higher job placement rate will not only confirm that the program has an excellent reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of Roanoke AL contacts to assist students obtain apprenticeships or employment upon graduation.
Up-to-date Equipment and Facilities. Once you have limited your choice of welding programs to two or three options, you should consider going to the campuses to look over their facilities. Verify that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be taught on are up-to-date. Specifically, the training equipment should be comparable to what you will be using in the field. If you are unsure what to look for, and are currently in an apprenticeship program, consult with the master welder you are working under for guidance. Otherwise, ask a local Roanoke AL welding contractor if they can give you some tips.
School Location. Even though we previously briefly talked about the importance of location, there are a couple of additional points that we should address. You should keep in mind that unless you can relocate, the welding school you pick needs to be within driving distance of your Roanoke AL home. If you do decide to attend an out-of-state school, apart from relocation expenses there may be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly true for welder degree programs offered by community colleges. Additionally, if the school provides 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 want to work.
Smaller Classes. Individualized training is important for a manual trade such as welding. It's easy to get lost in bigger classes and not obtain much personalized instruction. Find out what the typical class size is for the welder schools you are looking at. Ask if you can attend a few classes so that you can observe how much personal attention the students are receiving. While there, speak with some of the students and get their feedback. Also, talk to some of the teachers and find out what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they have earned.
Convenient Class Schedules. Many people learn a new profession while still employed at their present job. Check to see that the class schedules for the schools you are considering are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Roanoke AL, make certain that the schools you are reviewing provide those choices. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you decide on offers part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the policy is to make up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Choose the Right Roanoke Welding Program for Certification
Choosing the ideal welding training program will undoubtedly be the most critical decision you will make to launch your new career. As we have addressed in this article, there are many things that you will need to examine and compare between the schools you are reviewing. It's a prerequisite that any welding school that you are assessing includes a good deal of hands-on training. Classes need to be smaller in size and every student should have their own welding machine to train on. Classroom teaching needs to provide a real-world context, 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 have to ascertain what length of program and certificate or degree will best serve your needs. Every program provides unique possibilities for certification as well. Probably the best means to research your short list of schools is to check out each campus and talk with the students and instructors. Invest some time to attend some classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the program you select is the ideal one for you. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, the final result will be a new trade as a professional welder in Roanoke AL.