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Once you have decided on the credential you want to obtain, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can begin to compare schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are many welding vocational and trade schools in the Anchorage AK area. That's why it's essential to decide in advance what qualifications your chosen school must have. We have already discussed 2 significant ones that most people look at first, which are location and tuition cost. As stated, although they are very important qualifiers, they are not the only ones that need to be considered. After all, the school you select is going to furnish the education that will be the foundation of your new vocation as a welder. So following are some additional factors you may need to evaluate before choosing a welding tech school.

Accreditation. It's very important that the welding vocational school you decide on is accredited by either a regional or a national agency. There are 2 basic 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, for example Welding Technology. So make certain that the program you choose is accredited, not just the school itself. Also, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, for example the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). In addition to helping make sure that you get a superior education, the accreditation can also help in securing financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not offered in Anchorage AK for non-accredited schools. Finally, for those states or local governments that require licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited also.

Job Placement and Apprenticeship Programs. Many welding certificate or degree programs are provided in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Various other schools will help place you in a job or an apprenticeship upon graduation. Ask if the schools you are reviewing assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. These schools must have associations with local unions and other 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 referrals. These programs can help students find employment and develop relationships within the Anchorage AK welding community.

Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that begin an instructional program and finish it. It's important that the welding program you pick has a higher completion rate. A reduced rate might signify that the students who enrolled in the program were dissatisfied with the instruction, the teachers, or the facilities, and quit. The job placement rate is also an indication of the quality of training. A high job placement rate will not only affirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of Anchorage AK employer relationships to help students obtain employment or apprenticeships after graduation.

Up-to-date Equipment and Facilities. Once you have limited 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 equipment and the facilities that you will be trained on are up-to-date. Specifically, the training equipment should be comparable to what you will be working with on the job. If you are not sure what to look for, and are currently in an apprenticeship program, ask the master welder you are working under for guidance. Otherwise, ask a local Anchorage AK welding contractor if they can give you some tips.

School Location. Even though we previously briefly discussed the significance of location, there are a couple of additional issues that we should address. You should bear in mind that unless you are able to relocate, the welder program you pick needs to be within commuting distance of your Anchorage AK home. If you do decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides moving expenses there might be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially true for welding 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 regional community. So the location of the school should be in a region or state where you ultimately will wish to work.

Small Classes. Individualized training is essential for a manual trade such as welding. It's easy to be lost in bigger classes and not receive much one-on-one instruction. Ask what the typical class size is for the welding programs you are reviewing. Inquire if you can attend a few classes so that you can experience just how much personal attention the students are receiving. While there, speak with several of the students and get their evaluations. Similarly, talk to some of the trainers and ask what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they hold.

Flexible Class Schedules. Some people learn a new trade while still employed at their present job. Verify 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 Anchorage AK, verify that the schools you are assessing offer those alternatives. If you can only enroll part-time, verify that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the protocol is to make up classes if you you miss any because of work, sickness or family circumstances.

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