How to Choose the Right Welding Degree Program near Anchorage Alaska
Locating the ideal welder school near Anchorage AK is an important first step to beginning your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are so many 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 select the best one? A number of prospective students start by checking out the schools that are closest to their homes. Once they have found those that are within driving distance, they are drawn toward the least costly one. Yes, location and tuition cost are crucial considerations when examining welder vocational schools, but they are not the only ones. Other factors include such things as reputation, accreditation and job placement rates. So before initiating your search for a vocational school to become a welder, it's wise to establish 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
There are multiple options to receive training as a welder in a trade or vocational school. You can receive a diploma, a certificate or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are offered in Welding Technology or Welding Engineering, but are more advanced courses 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.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are normally offered by trade and technical schools and take about 1 year to finish. They are more hands-on training in scope, fashioned mainly to develop welding skills. They can provide a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or specialized skills for experienced welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take two years to complete and are most often offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology furnishes a more well-rounded education than the certificate or diploma while still providing the foundation that prepares 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 needed, the welder school you select should prep you for any licensing exams that you will have to pass in addition to furnishing the appropriate training to become a qualified welder.
Welder Certification Options
There are a number of institutions that offer welder certifications, which assess the knowledge and skill level of those applying. A large number of Anchorage AK employers not only require a certificate or degree from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a highly regarded agency like the American Welding Society (AWS). Different certifications are available based on the kind of work that the welder does. Some of the things that certification can acknowledge are the welder's ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specified metal thicknesses
- Work with various types of welds
- Work in compliance with contract specifications
As earlier mentioned, various cities, states or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those calling for licensing, some also require certification for various kinds of work. Certification is also a means to prove to employers that you are an extremely skilled and qualified welder. So similarly as with licensing, look into the requirements for your local area and confirm that the welding tech school you choose prepares you for certification as needed.
What to Ask Welding Technical Programs
As soon as you have decided on the credential you would like to earn, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can begin to assess schools. As you probably know, there are many welder trade and vocational schools in the Anchorage AK area. That's why it's essential to establish 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 stated, although they are very important qualifiers, they are not the only ones that need to be looked at. After all, the program you pick is going to furnish the training that will be the foundation of your new profession as a welder. So following are some additional factors you may want to consider before selecting a welder vocational school.
Accreditation. It's extremely important that the welder technical school you pick is accredited by either a regional or a national organization. There are two 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, for instance Welding Technology. So confirm that the program you choose is accredited, not just the school itself. Additionally, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, such as the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). In addition to helping make sure that you obtain an excellent education, the accreditation can also help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases not available in Anchorage AK for schools that are not accredited. Finally, for those states or municipalities that mandate licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited also.
Apprenticeship and Job Placement Programs. Numerous welder diploma or degree programs are provided in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Other schools will help place you in an apprenticeship or a job after graduation. Ask if the schools you are looking at assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. The schools should have associations with local unions and various metal working businesses to which they can place their students. More established schools may have a larger network of graduates that they can utilize for referrals. These programs can assist students in finding employment and establish relationships within the Anchorage AK welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that enroll in an academic program and complete it. It's important that the welder school you choose has a high completion rate. A low rate may signify that the students who enrolled 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 caliber of training. A high job placement rate will not only confirm that the program has a good reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of Anchorage AK employer relationships to help students secure apprenticeships or employment upon graduation.
Modern Equipment and Facilities. Once you have narrowed down your selection of welder programs to two or three possibilities, you should consider visiting the campuses to look over their facilities. Verify that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be instructed on are modern. Specifically, the training equipment should be comparable to what you will be working with on the job. If you are uncertain what to look for, and are currently in an apprenticeship program, consult with the master welder you are working under for guidance. Otherwise, ask a local Anchorage AK welding contractor if they can give you some pointers.
School Location. Although we already briefly discussed the significance of location, there are a couple of additional issues that we should address. You should keep in mind that unless you are able to relocate, the welder school 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 costs there might be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly true for welder certificate programs offered by community colleges. Additionally, if the school provides an apprenticeship or job placement program, more than likely their placements are within the school's regional community. So the location of the school needs to be in a region or state where you subsequently will desire to work.
Smaller Classes. One-on-one instruction is important for a manual trade such as welding. It's possible to be lost in larger classes and not receive much individualized training. Find out what the typical class size is for the welding programs you are considering. Inquire if you can attend a couple of classes so that you can experience how much personal attention the students are receiving. While there, talk with some of the students and get their evaluations. Also, chat with a few of the teachers and find out what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they hold.
Convenient Class Schedules. Lots of folks learn a new trade while still working at their present job. Confirm 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 in the evenings or on weekends near Anchorage AK, make certain that the schools you are reviewing offer those choices. If you can only enroll part-time, confirm that the school you select 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 responsibilities.
Choose the Right Anchorage Welding Course for Certification
Picking the ideal welder training program will probably be the most important decision you will make to begin your new profession. As we have addressed in this article, there are a number of things that you will need to examine and compare among the schools you are looking at. It's a must that any welding training that you are assessing includes a good deal of hands-on instruction. Classes should be smaller in size and each student should have their personal welding machine to train with. Classroom education should provide a real-world perspective, and the curriculum should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Courses differ in length and the type of credential provided, so you will have to decide what length of program and certificate or degree will best satisfy your needs. Each program offers different options for certification as well. Perhaps the best approach to research your final list of schools is to go to each campus and speak with the students and instructors. Take the time to monitor some classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the school you decide on is the ideal one for you. With the right training, hard work and commitment, the end outcome will be a new career as a professional welder in Anchorage AK.