How to Select the Right Welder Training Classes near Anchorage Alaska
Choosing the right welder school near Anchorage AK is an essential first step to beginning your new career as a professional welder. But since there are so many schools to select from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more significantly, once you have narrowed down your alternatives, how do you select the right one? Most people start by checking out the schools that are closest to their homes. Once they have found those that are within commuting distance, they are drawn toward the least costly one. Yes, location and tuition cost are crucial issues when reviewing welding trade schools, but they are not the only ones. Other considerations include such things as accreditation, reputation and job placement rates. So before beginning your search for a trade school to become a welder, it's sensible to develop a list of qualifications that your chosen school must have. But before we explore our due diligence checklist, let's talk a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welder Degree and Certificate Training Programs
There are several alternatives available to obtain training as a welder in a trade or vocational school. You can earn a diploma, a certificate or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are available in Welding Technology or Welding Engineering, but are more advanced degrees than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available combined with an apprenticeship program. Following are brief explanations of the most prevalent welding programs available in the Anchorage AK area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are usually offered by technical and trade schools and require about 1 year to complete. They are more hands-on training in scope, fashioned largely 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 2 years to complete and are most often offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology provides a more well-rounded education than the diploma or certificate while still providing the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
Some municipalities and states do have licensing requirements for welders, so don't forget to check for your location of future employment. If required, the welding school you choose should ready you for any licensing exams that you will have to take in addition to furnishing the suitable training to become a professional welder.
Welder Certification Alternatives
There are a number of organizations that provide welder certifications, which test the knowledge and skill level of those applying. Numerous Anchorage AK employers not only demand a certificate or degree from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a highly regarded agency like the American Welding Society (AWS). A wide range of certifications are available based on the kind of work that the welder does. A few of the skills that certification can attest to are the welder's ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with certain metal thicknesses
- Work with various kinds of welds
- Perform according to contract specifications
As formerly stated, various cities, states or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those requiring licensing, a number also require certification for different types of work. Certification is also a way to prove to employers that you are a highly skilled and qualified welder. So just as with licensing, look into the requirements for your location and verify that the welding technical school you select readies you for certification if needed.
Topics to Ask Welding Technical Programs
Once you have decided on the credential you would like to obtain, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can start to assess schools. As you probably know, there are a large number of welder trade and technical schools in the Anchorage AK area. That's why it's essential to decide in advance what qualifications your selected school must have. We have previously discussed two important ones that many people look at first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As stated, although they are very important qualifiers, they are not the only ones that should be looked at. After all, the program you decide on is going to furnish the instruction that will be the foundation of your new profession as a welder. So below are more factors you might need to evaluate before picking a welder technical school.
Accreditation. It's very important that the welding vocational school you decide on is accredited by either a regional or a national organization. There are 2 standard kinds of accreditation. The school may earn Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on an individual program the school offers, such as Welding Technology. So verify that the program you pick is accredited, not just the school itself. Additionally, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, such as the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). In addition to helping make sure that you obtain a quality education, the accreditation may also assist in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are often not offered in Anchorage AK for non-accredited schools. Also, for those states or municipalities that require licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited also.
Apprenticeship and Job Assistance Programs. Numerous 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 after graduation. Ask if the schools you are looking at help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. These schools must have relationships with local unions and various metal working businesses to which they can refer their students. More established 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 Anchorage AK welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that begin an instructional program and complete it. It's essential that the welder program you choose has a higher completion rate. A lower rate might indicate that the students who enrolled in the program were unhappy with the instruction, the instructors, 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 verify that the school has an excellent reputation within the trade, but additionally that it has the network of Anchorage AK employer relationships to assist students obtain apprenticeships or employment after graduation.
Modern Facilities and Equipment. Once you have decreased your selection of welder programs to 2 or 3 options, you should think out visiting the campuses to inspect their facilities. Confirm that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are up-to-date. Specifically, the training equipment should be similar 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. If not, ask a local Anchorage AK welding contractor if they can give you some tips.
School Location. Although we already briefly discussed the significance of location, there are a few additional points that we need to address. You should remember that unless you have the ability to relocate, the welder school you choose needs to be within driving distance of your Anchorage AK home. If you do opt to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides relocation costs there might be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly true for welding diploma programs offered by community colleges. Also, 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 needs to be in an area or state where you subsequently will wish to work.
Smaller Classes. Individualized training is important for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's possible to get overlooked in larger classes and not receive much personalized training. Find out what the average class size is for the welding programs you are considering. Inquire if you can attend a couple of classes so that you can witness just how much personal attention the students are getting. While there, talk with several of the students and get their evaluations. Similarly, talk with a couple of the instructors and ask what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they hold.
Convenient Class Schedules. Some people learn a new trade while still employed at their current job. Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are reviewing are convenient enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Anchorage AK, confirm that the schools you are considering provide those options. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the policy is to make up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family responsibilities.
Find the Best Anchorage Welding Program for Certification
Choosing the ideal welding school will probably be the most important decision you will make to launch your new career. As we have addressed in this article, there are many factors that you will need to assess and compare among the schools you are reviewing. It's a necessity that any welder training program that you are evaluating includes a lot of hands-on instruction. Classes should be small in size and every student should have their personal welding machine to train on. Classroom teaching should provide a real-world context, and the course of study should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Programs differ in duration and the kind of credential offered, so you will have to determine what length of program and degree or certificate will best satisfy your needs. Every program offers unique possibilities for certification as well. Probably the best way to research your short list of schools is to go to each campus and speak with the students and faculty. Invest some time to monitor a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make sure 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 Anchorage AK.