How to Select the Right Welder Certification Program near Roanoke Alabama
Choosing the ideal welding trade school near Roanoke AL is an essential first step to starting your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are a lot of schools to select from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more significantly, once you have narrowed down your choices, how do you select the right one? Many prospective students start by checking out the schools that are closest to their homes. When they have found those that are within commuting distance, they gravitate toward the least expensive one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are important issues when reviewing welder 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 trade school to become a welder, it's wise to develop 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 Degree and Certificate Training Programs
There are multiple options 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 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 explanations of the most prevalent welding programs available in the Roanoke AL area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are generally made available by technical and trade schools and take about a year to complete. They are more hands-on training in nature, designed largely to teach welding skills. They can provide a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or supplemental skills for experienced welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take 2 years to complete and are usually offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology provides a more well-rounded education than the diploma or certificate while still supplying the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
Many municipalities and states do have licensing requirements for welders, therefore don't forget to find out for your location of potential employment. As required, the welding school you choose should prep you for any licensing exams that you will have to take in addition to furnishing the suitable training to become a professional welder.
Welding Certification Alternatives
There are several organizations that provide welding certifications, which test the skill level and knowledge of those applying. A large number of Roanoke AL employers not only expect a degree or certificate from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a highly regarded organization such as the American Welding Society (AWS). A wide range of certifications are available based on the kind of work that the welder performs. Just some of the things that certification can attest to are the welder's ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with certain metal thicknesses
- Work with various types of welds
- Operate based on contract specifications
As previously stated, some states, cities or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those mandating licensing, a number additionally require certification for different kinds of work. Certification is also a way to demonstrate to employers that you are a highly skilled and knowledgeable welder. So just as with licensing, look into the requirements for your local area and confirm that the welder vocational school you decide on preps you for certification if needed.
Points to Ask Welding Vocational Schools
When you have decided on the credential you want to obtain, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can begin to assess schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are a large number of welding trade and vocational schools in the Roanoke AL area. That's why it's important to establish in advance what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have previously discussed two important ones that most people look at first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As mentioned, although they are very important qualifiers, they are not the only ones that should be considered. After all, the school you select is going to provide the instruction that will be the foundation of your new profession as a welder. So following are some additional factors you may need to consider before selecting a welder tech school.
Accreditation. It's essential that the welder trade school you choose is accredited by either a regional or a national agency. There are 2 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 offers, for instance Welding Technology. So confirm that the program you select is accredited, not just the school itself. Also, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, such as the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). In addition to helping ensure that you get an excellent education, the accreditation might also help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are often unavailable in Roanoke AL for schools that are not accredited. Also, for those states or municipalities that require licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited also.
Job Assistance and Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of welder diploma or degree programs are offered combined with an apprenticeship program. Various other schools will assist in placing you in an apprenticeship or a job upon graduation. Ask if the schools you are reviewing help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. The schools must have associations with local unions and various metal working businesses to which they can refer their students. Older schools may have a larger network of graduates that they can rely upon for placements. These programs can assist students in finding employment and develop associations within the Roanoke AL welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that begin an academic program and finish it. It's crucial that the welder school you pick has a higher completion rate. A low rate could mean that the students who were in the program were dissatisfied with the training, the instructors, or the facilities, and quit. The job placement rate is also a good indicator of the quality of training. A higher job placement rate will not only verify that the school has a good reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of Roanoke AL employer relationships to help students obtain apprenticeships or employment after graduation.
Modern Facilities and Equipment. After you have narrowed down your choice of welding schools to two or three possibilities, you should consider visiting the campuses to look over their facilities. Confirm that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be taught on are modern. Specifically, the training equipment should be comparable to what you will be using on the job. If you are unsure what to look for, and are currently in an apprenticeship program, ask the master welder you are working under for guidance. If not, ask a local Roanoke AL welding professional if they can give you a few pointers.
School Location. Even though we previously briefly discussed the importance of location, there are a few additional issues that we should address. You should remember that unless you can relocate, the welder program you pick needs to be within driving distance of your Roanoke AL home. If you do choose to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to moving expenses there may be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly true for welding diploma programs offered by community colleges. Additionally, if the school offers a job placement or apprenticeship program, most likely their placements are within the school's regional community. So the location of the school should be in an area or state where you subsequently will desire to work.
Small Classes. Personalized instruction is essential for a manual trade such as welding. It's easy to get overlooked in bigger classes and not receive much individualized training. Find out what the typical class size is for the welding programs you are reviewing. Ask if you can attend some classes so that you can see how much personal attention the students are getting. While there, talk with some of the students and get their evaluations. Also, talk with a few of the trainers and find out what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they hold.
Convenient Class Schedules. Many people learn a new profession while still working at their present job. Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are considering are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Roanoke AL, confirm that the schools you are assessing offer those options. If you can only enroll part-time, make certain 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 illness, work or family responsibilities.
Find the Right Roanoke Welding Training for Certification
Selecting the best welding school will probably be the most important decision you will make to begin your new career. As we have covered in this article, there are several things that you will need to evaluate and compare among the programs you are considering. It's a must that any welder school that you are reviewing includes a considerable amount of hands-on training. Classes should be small in size and every student must have their own welding machine to train on. Classroom education should offer a real-world perspective, and the training program should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Courses vary in duration and the type of credential provided, so you will need to decide what length of program and certificate or degree will best fulfill your needs. Every program offers different options for certification also. Probably the best approach to research your final list of schools is to check out each campus and speak with the teachers and students. Take the time to sit in on a few classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the training program you decide on 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.