How to Choose the Right Welder Certification Classes near Roanoke Alabama
Enrolling in the right welding trade school near Roanoke AL is an important first step to launching your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are a lot of schools to select from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more importantly, once you have narrowed down your options, how do you pick the right one? A number of people begin by checking out the schools that are nearest to their residences. Once they have located those that are within commuting distance, they gravitate toward the least costly one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are important considerations when examining welding trade schools, but they are not the only ones. Other concerns include such things as accreditation, reputation and job placement rates. So before beginning your search for a vocational school to become a welder, it's sensible to create a list of qualifications that your chosen school must have. But before we delve into our due diligence checklist, let's cover a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welder Certificate and Degree Training Programs
There are several options to get training as a welder in a technical or trade school. You can obtain 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 made available combined with an apprenticeship program. Following are brief summaries of the most typical welding programs available in the Roanoke AL area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are usually offered by technical and trade schools and require about 1 year to finish. 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 additional skills for experienced welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take two 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 furnishing the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
Some states and municipalities do have licensing requirements for welders, so be sure to find out for your location of potential employment. As required, the welding school you pick should prep you for any licensing exams that you will need to pass in addition to providing the appropriate training to become a professional welder.
Welder Certification Choices
There are multiple institutions that offer welder certifications, which assess the skill level and knowledge of those applying. A large number of Roanoke AL employers not only require a certificate or degree from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a respected organization such as the American Welding Society (AWS). Different certifications are offered dependent on the type of work that the welder performs. Some of the things that certification can acknowledge are the welder's ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specific metal thicknesses
- Work with specific types of welds
- Perform according to contract specifications
As previously stated, various states, cities or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those calling for licensing, many also require certification for different types of work. Certification is also a way to demonstrate to employers that you are an extremely skilled and knowledgeable welder. So just as with licensing, look into the requirements for your location and make sure that the welding technical school you decide on prepares you for certification as needed.
Subjects to Ask Welder Technical Schools
After you have decided on the credential you would like to attain, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can begin to assess 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 determine in advance what qualifications your chosen school must have. We have already discussed two significant ones that most people look at first, which are location and tuition cost. As stated, although they are very important qualifications, they are not the only ones that must be looked at. After all, the program you decide on is going to provide the education that will be the foundation of your new career as a welder. So below are some additional factors you may need to consider before selecting a welder trade school.
Accreditation. It's very important that the welding trade school you pick is accredited by either a national or a regional organization. There are 2 basic types of accreditation. The school may earn Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a specific program the school offers, for example Welding Technology. So confirm that the program you pick is accredited, not just the school alone. 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). Besides helping ensure that you receive a superior education, the accreditation may also assist in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are often not offered in Roanoke AL for non-accredited schools. Also, for those states or local governments that mandate licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited as well.
Apprenticeship and Job Placement Programs. A large number of welding degree or certificate programs are provided in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Other schools will help place you in an apprenticeship or a job upon graduation. Ask if the schools you are considering assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. The schools must have relationships with local unions and various 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 referrals. These programs can assist students in finding employment and develop relationships within the Roanoke AL welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that enroll in an instructional program and complete it. It's essential that the welder program you pick has a high completion rate. A low rate might indicate that the students who joined the program were unhappy with the instruction, the teachers, or the facilities, and quit. The job placement rate is also an indication of the caliber of training. A high job placement rate will not only confirm that the school has a good reputation within the industry, 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. Once you have narrowed down your selection of welding schools to 2 or 3 possibilities, you should think out visiting the campuses to inspect their facilities. Verify that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be taught on are up-to-date. In particular, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be using on the job. If you are not sure what to look for, and are already in an apprenticeship program, consult with the master welder you are working under for guidance. If not, ask a local Roanoke AL welding contractor if they can give you some tips.
School Location. Even though we previously briefly discussed the relevance of location, there are a couple of additional issues that we should cover. You should bear in mind that unless you are able to move, the welder school you select needs to be within driving distance of your Roanoke AL home. If you do opt to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there could be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly true for welding diploma programs offered by community colleges. Furthermore, if the school offers a job placement or apprenticeship program, more than likely their placements are within the school's regional community. So the location of the school needs to be in an area or state where you ultimately will wish to work.
Small Classes. Personalized training is important for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's possible to be lost in larger classes and not get much personalized instruction. Find out what the average class size is for the welder schools you are reviewing. Inquire if you can attend a couple of classes so that you can experience just how much individual attention the students are getting. While there, speak with a few of the students and get their feedback. Also, chat with a couple of the teachers and ask what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they hold.
Convenient Class Schedules. Many people learn a new trade while still working at their present job. Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are looking at are flexible enough to satisfy your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Roanoke AL, verify that the schools you are assessing provide those alternatives. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, verify that the school you pick offers part-time enrollment. Also, check to see what the policy is to make up classes if you you miss any because of illness, work or family responsibilities.
Find the Best Roanoke Welding Program for Certification
Picking the best welder school will probably be the most important decision you will make to launch your new career. As we have covered in this article, there are many factors that you will need to assess and compare among the programs you are reviewing. It's a necessity that any welder school that you are examining includes a considerable amount of hands-on instruction. Classes should be small in size and each student should have their own welding machine to train with. Classroom education needs to provide a real-world perspective, and the course of study should be current and in-line with industry standards. Training programs differ in duration and the type of credential provided, so you will have to ascertain what length of program and certificate or degree will best satisfy your needs. Each program offers unique options for certification as well. Perhaps the best means to research your final list of schools is to go to each campus and speak with the faculty and students. Take the time to sit in on a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the school you choose is the best one for you. With the right training, effort and dedication, the end outcome will be a new trade as a professional welder in Roanoke AL.