How to Pick the Right Welder Certification Classes near Bethel Alaska
Locating the right welder technical school near Bethel AK is an important first step to launching your new career as a professional welder. But since there are a lot of schools to pick from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more importantly, once you have fine tuned your choices, how do you select the best one? A number of prospective students begin by looking at the schools that are closest to their homes. When they have found those that are within commuting distance, they gravitate toward the least costly one. Yes, location and tuition cost are necessary issues when evaluating welding vocational schools, but they are not the only ones. Other concerns include such things as accreditation, reputation and job placement rates. So before beginning your search for a vocational school to become a welder, it's wise to develop 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.
Welder Degree and Certificate Programs
There are multiple alternatives available to receive training as a welder in a technical or trade school. You can earn a diploma, a certificate or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are available in Welding Technology or Welding Engineering, but are more advanced courses than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also offered combined with an apprenticeship program. Following are short explanations of the most prevalent welding programs offered in the Bethel AK area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are usually made available by trade and technical schools and take about a year to complete. They are more hands-on training in nature, created primarily to teach 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 two 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 providing the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
Some municipalities and states do have licensing prerequisites for welders, so don't forget to find out for your location of potential employment. As required, the welder school you select should ready you for any licensing examinations that you will have to take in addition to providing the appropriate training to become a professional welder.
Welder Certification Options
There are multiple organizations that provide welder certifications, which evaluate the knowledge and skill level of those applying. A large number of Bethel AK employers not only demand a degree or certificate from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a renowned organization like the American Welding Society (AWS). A wide range of certifications are offered dependent on the kind of work that the welder does. Just some of the skills that certification can attest to are the welder's ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specific metal thicknesses
- Work with various kinds of welds
- Perform in compliance with contract specifications
As formerly mentioned, various cities, states or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those mandating licensing, some also require certification for different kinds of work. Certification is also a means to demonstrate to employers that you are a highly skilled and experienced welder. So similarly as with licensing, look into the requirements for your location and make sure that the welding trade school you select prepares you for certification as needed.
What to Ask Welder Tech Schools
As soon as you have chosen the credential you would like to obtain, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can begin to evaluate schools. As you can imagine, there are numerous welder vocational and trade schools in the Bethel AK area. That's why it's essential to determine up front what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have previously discussed 2 important ones that most people consider 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 looked at. After all, the school you pick is going to furnish the training that will be the foundation of your new profession as a welder. So following are more factors you might want to consider before picking a welder tech school.
Accreditation. It's essential that the welding tech school you choose is accredited by either a regional or a national agency. There are two basic types of accreditation. The school may attain Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on an individual program the school has, for example Welding Technology. So make sure that the program you select is accredited, not just the school itself. Also, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, like the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping ensure that you receive a quality education, the accreditation can also assist in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable in Bethel AK for non-accredited schools. Also, for those states or municipalities that require licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited as well.
Job Placement and Apprenticeship Programs. Many welding degree or diploma programs are offered combined 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 placement program. The schools must have relationships with local unions and other 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 develop 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 educational program and complete it. It's crucial that the welder school you choose has a higher completion rate. A lower rate could mean that the students who were in the program were dissatisfied with the instruction, the teachers, or the facilities, and dropped out. 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 an excellent reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of Bethel AK contacts to help students secure employment or apprenticeships after graduation.
Up-to-date Equipment and Facilities. After you have narrowed down your choice of welder programs to 2 or 3 possibilities, you should consider going to the campuses to inspect their facilities. Confirm that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are up-to-date. Specifically, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be working with in the field. 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. If not, ask a local Bethel AK welding contractor if they can give you a few pointers.
School Location. Even though we already briefly covered the relevance of location, there are a few additional issues that we should deal with. You should keep in mind that unless you can relocate, the welding school you choose must be within commuting distance of your Bethel AK home. If you do opt to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides relocation costs there could be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially true for welder diploma programs offered by community colleges. Furthermore, if the school offers 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 ultimately will wish to work.
Small Classes. One-on-one training is essential for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's easy to get overlooked in bigger classes and not receive much personalized training. Find out what the usual class size is for the welder programs you are considering. Ask if you can sit in on a few classes so that you can experience just how much personal attention the students are receiving. While there, speak with some of the students and get their feedback. Also, speak with a few of the instructors and find out what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they hold.
Flexible Class Scheduling. Lots of folks learn a new trade while still working at their current job. Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are looking at are flexible enough to satisfy your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Bethel AK, make sure that the schools you are considering provide those options. If you can only attend part-time, confirm that the school you decide on offers part-time enrollment. Also, check to see what the protocol is to make up classes if you you miss any because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Choose the Right Bethel Welding Course for Certification
Picking the right welding training program 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 things that you will need to examine and compare among the programs you are considering. It's a necessity that any welding school that you are examining includes a considerable amount of hands-on instruction. Classes should be smaller in size and every student should have their own welding machine to train with. Classroom education needs to offer a real-world frame of reference, and the course of study should be current and in-line with industry standards. Programs vary in duration and the type of credential provided, so you will need to determine what length of program and credential will best serve your needs. Each program provides different options for certification also. Perhaps the best way to research your short list of schools is to check out each campus and talk with the teachers and students. Invest some time to attend a few classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the school you choose is the best one for you. With the right training, effort and dedication, the final outcome will be a new trade as a professional welder in Bethel AK.