How to Pick the Best Welding Vocational School near Bethel Alaska
Finding the ideal welder vocational school near Bethel AK is an important first step to launching your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are a lot of schools to choose from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more significantly, once you have fine tuned your alternatives, how do you pick the best one? Many prospective students start by looking at the schools that are nearest to their homes. When they have identified those that are within driving distance, they gravitate toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and tuition cost are necessary concerns when examining welding trade schools, but they are not the only ones. Other factors include such things as reputation, accreditation and job placement rates. So before beginning your search for a vocational school to become a welder, it's sensible to establish a list of qualifications that your chosen school must have. But before we explore our due diligence checklist, let's cover a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welding Degree and Certificate Training
There are multiple options available to get training as a welder in a trade or vocational 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 courses than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Below are short descriptions of the most common welding programs available in the Bethel AK area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are generally made available by trade and technical schools and take about 1 year to finish. They are more hands-on training in scope, designed largely to develop welding skills. They can provide a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or specialized skills for working welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take 2 years to finish and are usually 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 readies students to enter the workforce.
Some municipalities and states do have licensing prerequisites for welders, therefore don't forget to find out for your location of potential employment. As needed, the welding school you select should ready you for any licensing exams that you will need to pass in addition to providing the appropriate training to become a professional welder.
Welder Certification Alternatives
There are a number of institutions that provide welder certifications, which assess the skill level and knowledge of those applying. A large number of Bethel AK employers not only require a degree or certificate from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a highly regarded agency such as the American Welding Society (AWS). Different certifications are offered dependent on the type of work that the welder performs. Just some of the things that certification can acknowledge are the welder's ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specified metal thicknesses
- Work with specific kinds of welds
- Operate in compliance with contract specifications
As already mentioned, some states, cities or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those requiring licensing, many additionally require certification for various types of work. Certification is also a means to demonstrate to employers that you are an exceptionally skilled and knowledgeable welder. So just as with licensing, look into the requirements for your location and verify that the welder trade school you select prepares you for certification as needed.
Questions to Ask Welding Technical Schools
Once you have decided on the credential you want to earn, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can start to compare schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are numerous welder trade and technical schools in the Bethel AK area. That's why it's essential to determine in advance what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have previously covered 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 considered. After all, the program you decide on is going to furnish the training that will be the foundation of your new career as a welder. So below are more factors you might want to consider before picking a welder technical school.
Accreditation. It's very important that the welder vocational school you choose is accredited by either a regional or a national organization. There are two standard types of accreditation. The school may attain Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a specific program the school offers, for example Welding Technology. So confirm that the program you select is accredited, not just the school alone. Additionally, 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). In addition to helping ensure that you obtain a quality education, the accreditation can also help in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases not offered in Bethel AK for schools that are not accredited. Also, for those states or local governments that mandate licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited as well.
Apprenticeship and Job Assistance Programs. A large number of welder degree or diploma programs are provided in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Other schools will help place you in a job or an apprenticeship after graduation. Ask if the schools you are reviewing assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. The schools must have partnerships with local unions and various metal working businesses to which they can refer their students. Older schools may have a more substantial network of graduates that they can rely upon for placements. These programs can help students find employment and establish relationships within the Bethel AK welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that start an instructional program and finish it. It's essential that the welder program you choose has a higher completion rate. A lower rate might indicate that the students who were 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 higher job placement rate will not only verify that the school has a good reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of Bethel AK employer relationships to help students obtain apprenticeships or employment after graduation.
Modern Facilities and Equipment. Once you have limited your selection of welder schools to two or three 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 instructed on are modern. In particular, the training equipment should be comparable to what you will be using in the field. If you are not sure 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 Bethel AK welding professional if they can give you a few suggestions.
School Location. Although we already briefly discussed the importance of location, there are a couple of additional points that we should deal with. You should remember that unless you are able to move, the welder school you choose needs to be within commuting distance of your Bethel AK home. If you do decide to attend an out-of-state school, apart from moving expenses there might be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially true for welder certificate programs offered by community colleges. Furthermore, 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 should be in an area or state where you ultimately will desire to work.
Smaller Classes. One-on-one training is important for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's easy to get overlooked in bigger classes and not receive much personalized instruction. Find out what the typical class size is for the welding schools you are considering. Inquire if you can attend a few classes so that you can observe just how much individual attention the students are receiving. While there, talk with some of the students and get their opinions. Also, talk to some of the teachers and find out what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they have earned.
Flexible Class Scheduling. Some people learn a new trade while still employed at their current job. Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are convenient enough to satisfy your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Bethel AK, confirm that the schools you are assessing provide those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, confirm that the school you decide on offers part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the protocol is to make up classes if you you miss any because of illness, work or family circumstances.
Find the Right Bethel Welding Training for Certification
Picking the ideal welding school will probably be the most critical decision you will make to begin your new profession. As we have addressed in this article, there are several things that you will need to examine and compare between the schools you are looking at. It's a prerequisite that any welder training that you are reviewing includes a considerable amount of hands-on training. Classes need to be small in size and every student must have their personal welding machine to train with. Classroom teaching needs to provide a real-world frame of reference, and the training program should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Training programs differ in duration and the kind of credential provided, so you will have to determine what length of program and credential will best satisfy your needs. Every program offers unique options for certification also. Probably The ideal approach to research your short list of schools is to check out each campus and talk with the faculty and students. Take the time to attend a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the training program you choose is the ideal one for you. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, the end result will be a new occupation as a professional welder in Bethel AK.