How to Choose the Best Welder Certification Classes near Roanoke Alabama
Finding 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 pick from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more notably, once you have fine tuned your choices, how do you pick the right one? Most people start by looking at the schools that are closest to their residences. When they have found those that are within driving distance, they gravitate toward the least costly one. Yes, location and tuition cost are necessary issues when evaluating welder trade schools, but they are not the only ones. Other considerations 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 sensible to establish a list of qualifications that your chosen school must have. But before we delve into our due diligence checklist, let's talk a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welder Certificate and Degree Training
There are a number of options to receive training as a welder in a trade or technical school. You can receive 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. Following are brief explanations of the most typical welding programs offered in the Roanoke AL area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are normally made available by technical and trade schools and require about 1 year to complete. They are more hands-on training in nature, designed mainly to teach welding skills. They can provide a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or supplemental skills for working welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take two years to complete and are most often offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology offers a more extensive education than the certificate or diploma while still furnishing the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
Many states and municipalities do have licensing requirements for welders, therefore be sure to check for your location of potential employment. If required, the welder school you choose should ready you for any licensing examinations that you will have to take in addition to supplying the suitable training to become a qualified welder.
Welder Certification Alternatives
There are various institutions that offer welder certifications, which test the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Numerous Roanoke AL employers not only expect a degree or certificate from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a respected agency like the American Welding Society (AWS). A variety of certifications are available dependent on the kind of work that the welder performs. Just some of the things that certification can acknowledge are the welder's ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with certain metal thicknesses
- Work with various kinds of welds
- Operate based on contract specifications
As previously stated, various cities, states or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those calling for licensing, some additionally require certification for various kinds of work. Certification is also a means to prove to employers that you are an exceptionally skilled and experienced welder. So just as with licensing, check the requirements for your local area and make certain that the welding vocational school you decide on preps you for certification if needed.
What to Ask Welder Technical Programs
Once you have decided on the credential you would like to earn, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can begin to compare schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are numerous welder vocational and trade schools in the Roanoke AL area. That's why it's essential to decide up front what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have already discussed two significant ones that most people look at first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As mentioned, although they are very important qualifications, they are not the only ones that must be considered. After all, the school you pick is going to furnish the education that will be the foundation of your new career as a welder. So below are more factors you might want to consider before choosing a welder tech school.
Accreditation. It's extremely important that the welding vocational school you pick is accredited by either a regional or a national organization. There are 2 standard kinds of accreditation. The school may receive Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a specific program the school offers, such as Welding Technology. So verify that the program you select is accredited, not just the school alone. Also, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, like the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). In addition to helping make sure that you receive a quality education, the accreditation may also assist in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently not available in Roanoke AL for non-accredited schools. Also, for those states or municipalities that require licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited also.
Job Placement and Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous welding certificate or degree programs are provided in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Various other schools will assist in placing you in a job or an apprenticeship after graduation. Ask if the schools you are looking at assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. These schools should have partnerships with local unions and various metal working businesses to which they can refer their students. Older schools may have a more substantial network of graduates that they can utilize for placements. These programs can help students find 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 start an educational program and complete it. It's essential that the welder school you pick has a high completion rate. A low rate might indicate that the students who joined the program were unhappy with the training, the teachers, or the facilities, and dropped out. The job placement rate is also an indication of the quality of training. A higher job placement rate will not only confirm that the school has a good reputation within the trade, but additionally that it has the network of Roanoke AL contacts to assist students secure employment or apprenticeships upon graduation.
Up-to-date Equipment and Facilities. After you have decreased your selection of welding programs to two or three possibilities, you should consider going to the campuses to look over their facilities. Verify that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed 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 already 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 tips.
School Location. Even though we previously briefly covered the importance of location, there are a few additional issues that we should deal with. You should keep in mind that unless you are able to move, the welding school you pick must be within commuting distance of your Roanoke AL home. If you do opt to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides moving costs there could be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially the case for welder diploma programs offered by community colleges. Furthermore, if the school provides a job placement or apprenticeship program, often their placements are within the school's local community. So the location of the school needs to be in a region or state where you subsequently will want to work.
Small Classes. Personalized instruction is important for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's easy to be overlooked in larger classes and not obtain much individualized training. Find out what the usual class size is for the welder programs you are considering. Inquire if you can sit in on some classes so that you can see just how much personal attention the students are getting. While there, speak with a few of the students and get their evaluations. Also, speak with a few of the teachers and ask what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they have earned.
Convenient Class Scheduling. Some people learn a new profession while still employed at their current job. Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are looking at are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Roanoke AL, make certain that the schools you are considering offer those options. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, verify that the school you decide on offers part-time enrollment. Also, check to see what the policy is to make up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family circumstances.
Choose the Best Roanoke Welding Training for Certification
Choosing the best welding training program will undoubtedly be the most critical decision you will make to begin your new career. As we have covered in this article, there are many factors that you will need to examine and compare among the programs you are looking at. It's a must that any welding school that you are evaluating includes a good deal of hands-on training. Classes need to be smaller in size and each student must have their personal welding machine to train with. Classroom education should offer a real-world perspective, and the course of study should be current and in-line with industry standards. Programs vary in duration and the type of credential offered, so you will have to determine what length of program and degree or certificate will best satisfy your needs. Every training program offers unique possibilities for certification also. Probably the best approach to research your short list of schools is to check out each campus and speak with the students and instructors. Invest some time to sit in on a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the school you select is the best one for you. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, the end outcome will be a new career as a professional welder in Roanoke AL.