How to Pick the Best Welding Trade School near Bethel Alaska
Selecting the right welder trade school near Bethel 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 know which ones to consider? And more notably, once you have fine tuned your choices, how do you select the best one? Many prospective students start by reviewing the schools that are closest to their residences. When they have identified those that are within commuting distance, they gravitate toward the least expensive one. Yes, location and tuition cost are necessary concerns when evaluating welder vocational 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 wise to develop a list of qualifications that your selected school must have. But before we explore our due diligence checklist, let's talk a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welding Degree and Certificate Training Courses
There are several alternatives available to receive training as a welder in a trade or technical school. You can obtain a a certificate, a diploma 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. Below are short explanations of the most common welding programs available in the Bethel AK area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are normally offered by technical and trade schools and require about one year to complete. They are more hands-on training in nature, created mainly 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 usually offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology offers a more extensive education than the certificate or diploma while still supplying the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
Some states and municipalities do have licensing requirements for welders, therefore be sure to find out for your location of future employment. If needed, the welder school you select should ready you for any licensing examinations that you will have to take in addition to furnishing the proper training to become a professional welder.
Welder Certification Choices
There are multiple institutions that provide welding certifications, which test the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Numerous Bethel AK employers not only require a degree or certificate from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a respected organization like the American Welding Society (AWS). Different certifications are available based on the kind of work that the welder does. A few of the things 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 kinds of welds
- Perform in compliance with contract specifications
As earlier mentioned, various states, cities or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those calling for licensing, a number additionally require certification for various types of work. Certification is also a way to demonstrate to employers that you are an exceptionally skilled and qualified welder. So just as with licensing, check the requirements for your local area and make sure that the welder tech school you select readies you for certification if needed.
Questions to Ask Welder Trade Programs
When you have decided on the credential you want to attain, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can start to assess schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are numerous welding vocational and trade schools in the Bethel AK area. That's why it's important to determine up front what qualifications your selected school must have. We have previously covered 2 significant ones that most people consider first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As mentioned, although they are essential qualifiers, they are not the only ones that should be considered. After all, the program you pick is going to furnish the training that will be the foundation of your new profession as a welder. So below are some additional factors you might want to consider before selecting a welder tech school.
Accreditation. It's extremely important that the welder trade school you choose is accredited by either a regional or a national organization. There are two basic types of accreditation. The school may receive Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a single program the school offers, such as Welding Technology. So verify that the program you choose is accredited, not just the school itself. Additionally, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, such as the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping make sure that you obtain a quality education, the accreditation can also help in getting financial aid or student loans, which are often not available in Bethel AK for non-accredited schools. Finally, for those states or local governments that mandate licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited as well.
Apprenticeship and Job Placement Programs. A large number of welding degree or diploma programs are offered combined with an apprenticeship program. Some other schools will assist in placing you in a job or an apprenticeship after graduation. Find out if the schools you are reviewing help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. These schools should have relationships with local unions and various metal working businesses to which they can place their students. Older schools may have a more substantial network of graduates that they can rely upon for referrals. These programs can assist students in finding employment and establish associations within the Bethel AK welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that enroll in an academic program and complete it. It's crucial that the welder program you select has a high completion rate. A lower rate may indicate that the students who were in the program were unhappy with the instruction, the teachers, or the facilities, and quit. The job placement rate is also a good indicator of the quality of training. A higher job placement rate will not only confirm that the program has an excellent reputation within the trade, but additionally that it has the network of Bethel AK employer relationships to help students secure apprenticeships or employment upon graduation.
Up-to-date Equipment and Facilities. After you have decreased your selection of welder programs to 2 or 3 options, you should think out going to the campuses to inspect their facilities. Make sure that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are up-to-date. In particular, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be working with in the field. If you are not sure what to look for, and are currently in an apprenticeship program, consult with the master welder you are working under for guidance. Otherwise, ask a local Bethel AK welding contractor if they can give you a few tips.
School Location. Even though we previously briefly talked about the significance of location, there are a few additional points that we should deal with. You should bear in mind that unless you can move, the welding program you choose must be within commuting distance of your Bethel AK home. If you do choose 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 degree programs offered by community colleges. Additionally, if the school provides an apprenticeship or job placement program, more than likely their placements are within the school's local community. So the location of the school needs to be in an area or state where you ultimately will wish to work.
Small Classes. Personalized training is essential for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's easy to be lost in bigger classes and not obtain much personalized instruction. Find out what the typical class size is for the welding schools you are reviewing. Inquire if you can attend a few classes so that you can witness just how much personal attention the students are receiving. While there, speak with several of the students and get their feedback. Also, talk with a couple of the trainers and find out what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they have earned.
Convenient 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 considering are flexible 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 looking at offer those choices. If you can only enroll part-time, verify that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the policy is to make up classes if you you miss any due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
Choose the Best Bethel Welding Course for Certification
Picking the ideal welding training program will probably be the most important decision you will make to start your new career. As we have addressed in this article, there are many factors that you will need to evaluate and compare between the schools you are looking at. It's a must that any welder training that you are assessing includes a good deal of hands-on training. Classes should be small in size and each student should have their personal welding machine to train on. Classroom instruction should provide a real-world context, and the course of study should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Courses vary in length and the kind of credential offered, so you will need to ascertain what length of program and credential will best satisfy your needs. Every program offers different options for certification as well. Perhaps The ideal way to research your short list of schools is to visit each campus and speak with the teachers and students. Take the time to attend some classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the program you choose is the best one for you. With the proper training, effort and commitment, the final outcome will be a new trade as a professional welder in Bethel AK.