How to Enroll In the Best Welding Certification Course near Anchorage Alaska
Enrolling in the ideal welder trade school near Anchorage AK is an important first step to launching your new career as a professional welder. But since there are so many schools to pick from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more notably, once you have narrowed down your alternatives, how do you select the right one? A number of prospective students begin by looking at the schools that are nearest to their homes. Once they have identified those that are within driving distance, they are drawn toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and tuition cost are necessary issues when evaluating welding technical schools, but they are not the only ones. Other concerns include such things as accreditation, reputation and job placement rates. So before starting your search for a vocational school to become a welder, it's wise to create a list of qualifications that your selected 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 Degree and Certificate Training Programs
There are several options available to get training as a welder in a trade or technical school. You can earn a a certificate, a diploma or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are available in Welding Engineering or Welding Technology, but are more advanced degrees than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available in conjunction 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 generally offered by technical and trade schools and require about one year to finish. They are more hands-on training in nature, designed mainly to develop welding skills. They can provide a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or supplemental skills for experienced welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take two years to finish and are usually offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology furnishes a more extensive education than the diploma or certificate while still furnishing the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
Many municipalities and states do have licensing prerequisites for welders, therefore be sure to check for your location of potential employment. If required, the welding school you choose 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.
Welding Certification Alternatives
There are various institutions that provide welding certifications, which test the knowledge and skill level of those applying. Many Anchorage AK employers not only expect a certificate or degree from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a highly regarded organization like the American Welding Society (AWS). Different certifications are available based on the type of work that the welder does. Just some of the skills that certification can attest to are the welder's ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specific metal thicknesses
- Work with certain types of welds
- Perform according to contract specifications
As formerly stated, some cities, states or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those calling for licensing, a number additionally require certification for various kinds of work. Certification is also a means to prove to employers that you are an exceptionally skilled and knowledgeable welder. So similarly as with licensing, look into the requirements for your local area and confirm that the welder technical school you decide on prepares you for certification if needed.
Subjects to Ask Welder Trade Programs
After you have chosen the credential you would like to attain, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can start to assess schools. As you probably know, there are many welder trade and technical schools in the Anchorage AK area. That's why it's essential to establish in advance what qualifications your selected school must have. We have already discussed 2 important ones that most people look at first, which are location and the cost of tuition. 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 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 picking a welding technical school.
Accreditation. It's very important that the welding trade school you choose is accredited by either a regional or a national organization. There are two standard types 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 make sure 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, for example the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping make sure that you get a superior education, the accreditation can also assist in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable in Anchorage AK for non-accredited schools. Also, for those states or local governments that require licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited also.
Job Placement and Apprenticeship Programs. Many welder diploma or degree programs are provided 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 considering assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement 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 larger network of graduates that they can rely upon for placements. These programs can assist students in finding employment and establish relationships within the Anchorage AK welding community.
Job Placement and Completion 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 high completion rate. A low rate may indicate that the students who joined the program were unhappy with the instruction, the instructors, or the facilities, and dropped out. The job placement rate is also an indication of the caliber of training. A higher job placement rate will not only affirm that the school has a good reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of Anchorage AK employer relationships to help students secure employment or apprenticeships upon graduation.
Modern Facilities and Equipment. After you have decreased your choice of welding schools to 2 or 3 options, you should consider going to the campuses to evaluate their facilities. Make sure that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be trained on are modern. In particular, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be using on the job. If you are unsure what to look for, and are currently in an apprenticeship program, consult with the master welder you are working under for guidance. If not, ask a local Anchorage AK welding professional if they can give you a few tips.
School Location. Although we already briefly covered the significance of location, there are a couple of additional points that we should address. You should bear in mind that unless you can move, the welder program you pick needs to be within driving distance of your Anchorage AK home. If you do choose to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to moving expenses there may be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially true for welder certificate programs offered by community colleges. Also, if the school offers an apprenticeship or job placement 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 desire to work.
Smaller Classes. Individualized instruction is essential for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's easy to get lost in bigger classes and not get much one-on-one training. Find out what the average class size is for the welding programs you are considering. Ask if you can sit in on a couple of classes so that you can see just how much personal attention the students are getting. While there, speak with several of the students and get their feedback. Also, talk to a few of the trainers and ask what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they have earned.
Flexible Class Schedules. Some people learn a new trade while still employed at their present job. Make sure that the class schedules for the schools you are reviewing are convenient enough to meet your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Anchorage AK, make sure that the schools you are reviewing offer those choices. If you can only enroll part-time, make certain 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 due to work, illness or family circumstances.
Find the Right Anchorage Welding School for Certification
Choosing the best welding school will undoubtedly be the most important decision you will make to launch your new profession. As we have discussed in this article, there are several factors that you will need to examine and compare between the programs you are reviewing. It's a prerequisite that any welder school that you are evaluating includes a lot of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be smaller in size and each student should have their personal welding machine to train with. Classroom instruction should offer a real-world perspective, and the training program should be current and conform with industry standards. Programs vary in duration and the type of credential offered, so you will need to ascertain what length of program and degree or certificate will best satisfy your needs. Every training program provides unique options for certification as well. Perhaps The ideal way to research your final list of schools is to check out each campus and speak with the teachers and students. 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 right one for you. With the proper training, hard work and dedication, the end outcome will be a new trade as a professional welder in Anchorage AK.