How to Enroll In the Best Welding Certification Classes near Anchorage Alaska
Enrolling in the ideal welder vocational school near Anchorage AK is an essential first step to starting your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are a lot of schools to select from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more significantly, once you have narrowed down your options, how do you select the best one? Most prospective students begin by looking at the schools that are nearest to their residences. When they have identified those that are within commuting distance, they are drawn toward the least costly one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are crucial issues when reviewing welder technical schools, but they are not the only ones. Other considerations include such things as accreditation, reputation and job placement rates. So before starting your search for a trade school to become a welder, it's wise to establish a list of qualifications that your chosen school must have. But before we examine 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 alternatives available to obtain training as a welder in a trade or technical 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 short descriptions of the most common welding programs offered in the Anchorage AK area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are generally offered by trade and technical schools and require about a year to complete. They are more hands-on training in nature, created primarily to develop welding skills. They can furnish a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or supplemental skills for working welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take two years to finish and are most often offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology provides a more well-rounded education than the certificate or diploma while still supplying the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
Many municipalities and states do have licensing requirements for welders, therefore make sure to find out for your location of potential employment. As needed, the welder school you choose should prepare you for any licensing exams that you will need to pass in addition to furnishing the appropriate training to become a qualified welder.
Welder Certification Alternatives
There are multiple institutions that provide welder certifications, which test the knowledge and skill level of those applying. A large number of Anchorage AK employers not only demand a certificate or degree from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a highly regarded organization like the American Welding Society (AWS). A wide range of certifications are available based on the type of work that the welder does. A few of the things that certification can acknowledge are the welder's ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with certain metal thicknesses
- Work with specific types of welds
- Operate in compliance with contract specifications
As previously mentioned, some states, cities or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those mandating licensing, many additionally require certification for various types of work. Certification is also a way to prove to employers that you are a highly skilled and knowledgeable welder. So just as with licensing, look into the requirements for your location and verify that the welding trade school you choose readies you for certification as needed.
Topics to Ask Welding Technical Schools
Once you have chosen the credential you want to earn, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can start to assess schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are numerous welder vocational and trade schools in the Anchorage AK area. That's why it's important to establish in advance what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have previously covered two important ones that many people consider 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 program you choose is going to provide the instruction that will be the foundation of your new vocation as a welder. So below are some additional factors you may want to consider before picking a welder vocational school.
Accreditation. It's very important that the welder trade school you choose is accredited by either a regional or a national agency. There are two basic kinds of accreditation. The school may earn Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a single program the school offers, for instance Welding Technology. So verify 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, like the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping make sure that you receive an excellent education, the accreditation might also help in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are often not available in Anchorage AK for schools that are not accredited. Also, for those states or municipalities that mandate licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited also.
Job Placement and Apprenticeship Programs. Many welding degree or certificate programs are provided combined with an apprenticeship program. Various other schools will help place you in a job or an apprenticeship after graduation. Find out if the schools you are looking at help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. The schools should have partnerships with local unions and other metal working businesses to which they can refer their students. More established schools may have a more substantial network of graduates that they can utilize for placements. These programs can help students find employment and establish associations within the Anchorage AK welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that enroll in an educational program and finish it. It's important that the welding program you choose has a higher completion rate. A lower rate might indicate 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 an indication of the caliber of training. A higher job placement rate will not only confirm that the program has an excellent reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of Anchorage AK employer relationships to assist students obtain employment or apprenticeships upon graduation.
Up-to-date Equipment and Facilities. Once you have limited your selection of welding programs to 2 or 3 possibilities, you should consider visiting the campuses to inspect their facilities. Make sure that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be taught on are modern. In particular, the training equipment should be comparable to what you will be working with on the job. If you are unsure what to look for, and are already 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 previously briefly talked about the importance of location, there are a couple of additional points that we should deal with. You should remember that unless you have the ability to move, the welding school you pick must be within driving distance of your Anchorage AK home. If you do opt to attend an out-of-state school, apart from moving costs there might be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly true for welding certificate programs offered by community colleges. Furthermore, if the school provides an apprenticeship or job placement program, most likely their placements are within the school's local community. So the location of the school should be in a region or state where you subsequently will wish to work.
Small Classes. One-on-one instruction is essential for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's possible to get overlooked in larger classes and not receive much one-on-one training. Find out what the average class size is for the welder programs you are considering. Inquire if you can sit in on a few classes so that you can witness just how much individual attention the students are getting. While there, speak with some of the students and get their opinions. Also, chat with some of the instructors and find out what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they have earned.
Flexible Class Schedules. Some people learn a new trade while still employed at their present job. Check to see that the class schedules for the schools you are reviewing are flexible enough to satisfy your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Anchorage AK, confirm that the schools you are assessing offer those options. 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 should you miss any because of work, illness or family circumstances.
Find the Right Anchorage Welding Course for Certification
Selecting the ideal welder training program will undoubtedly be the most important decision you will make to begin your new trade. As we have discussed in this article, there are a number of things that you will need to assess and compare between the schools you are looking at. It's a prerequisite that any welding training program that you are evaluating includes a good deal of hands-on training. Classes should be smaller in size and every student should have their own welding machine to train with. Classroom instruction should provide a real-world perspective, and the training program should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Training programs differ in duration and the type of credential offered, so you will have to decide what length of program and credential will best satisfy your needs. Every program provides different options for certification also. Probably The ideal approach to research your final list of schools is to visit each campus and talk with the students and instructors. Take the time to sit in on a few classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the school you pick is the ideal one for you. With the right training, hard work and commitment, the end result will be a new career as a professional welder in Anchorage AK.