How to Choose the Best Welding Certificate Program near Anchorage Alaska
Choosing the right welder technical school near Anchorage AK is an important 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 fine tuned your options, how do you select the best one? Most prospective students begin by looking at the schools that are closest to their residences. Once they have located those that are within commuting distance, they are drawn toward the least expensive one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are necessary concerns when examining welder trade 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 trade school to become a welder, it's wise to develop a list of qualifications that your selected school must have. But before we examine our due diligence checklist, let's talk a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welder Degree and Certificate Training Programs
There are multiple options available to obtain 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 Technology or Welding Engineering, but are more advanced programs than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Below are short explanations of the most common welding programs offered in the Anchorage AK area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are normally made available by technical and trade schools and take about a year to complete. They are more hands-on training in nature, fashioned 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 2 years to complete and are most often offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology provides a more extensive education than the diploma or certificate while still supplying the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
Many municipalities and states do have licensing prerequisites for welders, therefore don't forget to check for your location of potential employment. As needed, the welding school you pick should ready you for any licensing exams that you will need to pass in addition to furnishing the suitable training to become a professional welder.
Welding Certification Options
There are various institutions that provide welder certifications, which test the knowledge and skill level of those applying. Numerous Anchorage AK employers not only demand a degree or certificate from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a renowned organization such as the American Welding Society (AWS). A variety of certifications are offered based on the type of work that the welder performs. Just some of the things that certification can acknowledge are the welder's ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specific metal thicknesses
- Work with certain types of welds
- Operate in compliance with contract specifications
As earlier stated, many cities, states or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those calling for licensing, many also require certification for different kinds of work. Certification is also a means to demonstrate to employers that you are an extremely skilled and experienced welder. So similarly as with licensing, check the requirements for your local area and confirm that the welder tech school you select preps you for certification if needed.
What to Ask Welding Tech Schools
Once you have chosen the credential you would like to attain, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can begin to assess schools. As you can imagine, there are a large number of welder trade and vocational schools in the Anchorage AK area. That's why it's necessary to establish up front what qualifications your chosen school must have. We have already covered 2 significant ones that many people look at first, which are location and tuition cost. As mentioned, although they are essential qualifiers, they are not the only ones that need to be looked at. After all, the school you decide on is going to provide the training that will be the foundation of your new career as a welder. So following are more factors you might need to consider before picking a welder vocational school.
Accreditation. It's very important that the welder technical school you decide on is accredited by either a regional or a national agency. There are 2 standard types of accreditation. The school may attain Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a single program the school offers, for instance Welding Technology. So confirm that the program you choose is accredited, not just the school alone. Additionally, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, like the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping ensure that you get an excellent education, the accreditation can also help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are often not available in Anchorage AK for schools that are not accredited. Finally, for those states or local governments that require licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited as well.
Apprenticeship and Job Assistance Programs. Numerous welder degree or diploma programs are offered combined with an apprenticeship program. Some other schools will assist in placing you in an apprenticeship or a job upon graduation. Ask if the schools you are considering assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. The schools should have relationships 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 rely upon for referrals. 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 portion or percentage of students that start an academic program and finish it. It's important that the welding school you pick has a high completion rate. A reduced rate might signify that the students who joined the program were dissatisfied with the instruction, 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 affirm that the program has a good reputation within the trade, but additionally that it has the network of Anchorage AK contacts to assist students obtain apprenticeships or employment after graduation.
Up-to-date Facilities and Equipment. Once you have narrowed down your selection of welding programs to two or three options, you should think out going to the campuses to evaluate their facilities. Verify that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are modern. Specifically, the training equipment should be comparable to what you will be using 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. If not, ask a local Anchorage AK welding professional if they can give you a few pointers.
School Location. Even though we previously briefly discussed the relevance of location, there are a couple of additional issues that we need to address. You should remember that unless you are able to move, the welding 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, apart from moving expenses there may be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly true for welder certificate programs offered by community colleges. Also, if the school provides a job placement or apprenticeship program, most likely 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 ultimately will want to work.
Smaller Classes. Individualized training is important for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's easy to get lost in larger classes and not obtain much individualized instruction. Find out what the usual class size is for the welding schools you are considering. Ask if you can sit in on some classes so that you can experience how much individual attention the students are receiving. While there, speak with some of the students and get their evaluations. Also, talk with a couple of the instructors and ask what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they have earned.
Flexible Class Schedules. Some people learn a new profession while still working at their present job. Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are looking at are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Anchorage AK, verify that the schools you are assessing provide those choices. If you can only attend 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 if you you miss any due to work, sickness or family responsibilities.
Find the Best Anchorage Welding Training for Certification
Picking the right welding training program will undoubtedly be the most important decision you will make to start your new career. As we have covered in this article, there are a number of things that you will need to evaluate and compare among the programs you are considering. It's a must that any welder training that you are reviewing includes a lot of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be smaller in size and each student must have their own welding machine to train with. Classroom teaching needs to provide a real-world perspective, and the curriculum should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Courses vary in duration and the type of credential provided, so you will have to decide what length of program and credential will best satisfy your needs. Each training program offers unique options for certification also. Probably The ideal approach to research your short list of schools is to visit each campus and speak with the students and faculty. Invest some time to sit in on some classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the program you pick is the right one for you. With the right training, effort and dedication, the final outcome will be a new occupation as a professional welder in Anchorage AK.