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How to Choose the Right Welding Degree Program near College Alaska

College Alaska construction welder on the jobFinding the right welding technical school near College AK is an essential first step to beginning your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are numerous schools to choose from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more notably, once you have narrowed down your choices, how do you select the right one? Many people begin by checking out the schools that are closest to their homes. Once they have identified those that are within driving distance, they gravitate toward the least expensive one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are necessary issues when evaluating welding technical schools, but they are not the only ones. Other considerations 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 create a list of qualifications that your selected school must have. But before we delve into our due diligence checklist, let's cover a little bit about how to become a welder.

Welder Certificate and Degree Training Programs

College Alaska welder working in metal shop

There are a number of alternatives available to get training as a welder in a technical or trade school. You can receive a a certificate, a diploma or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are offered in Welding Engineering or Welding Technology, but are more advanced programs than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available along with an apprenticeship program. Following are brief explanations of the most prevalent welding programs offered in the College AK area.

  • Diploma and Certificate Programs are generally made available by trade and technical schools and take about one year to complete. They are more hands-on training in scope, created primarily 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 two years to complete 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 supplying the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.

Some municipalities and states do have licensing requirements for welders, so make sure to find out for your location of future employment. As needed, the welder school you choose should prepare you for any licensing exams that you will need to take in addition to supplying the proper training to become a qualified welder.

Welding Certification Alternatives

College Alaska welder welding metal table

There are a number of organizations that provide welding certifications, which assess the knowledge and skill level of those applying. Numerous College AK employers not only demand a degree or certificate from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a respected organization like the American Welding Society (AWS). A wide range of certifications are available based upon the type of work that the welder does. Just some 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 certain types of welds
  • Perform based on contract specifications

As already mentioned, various states, cities or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those calling for licensing, a number also require certification for different types of work. Certification is also a means to prove to employers that you are a highly skilled and experienced welder. So just as with licensing, check the requirements for your location and make sure that the welder vocational school you decide on preps you for certification if needed.

Topics to Ask Welder Trade Schools

College Alaska welder welding electrical beam

As soon as you have chosen the credential you would like to earn, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can begin to evaluate schools. As you can imagine, there are numerous welding vocational and trade schools in the College AK area. That's why it's essential to establish up front what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have previously covered two significant ones that many people look at first, which are location and tuition cost. As mentioned, although they are very important qualifiers, they are not the only ones that must be looked at. After all, the program you select is going to furnish the instruction that will be the foundation of your new career as a welder. So following are some additional factors you might want to consider before picking 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 earn Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on an individual program the school has, such as Welding Technology. So confirm that the program you select is accredited, not just the school alone. Also, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, for example the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping make sure that you get an excellent education, the accreditation can also assist in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not available in College 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 also.

Job Placement and Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of welder degree or diploma programs are offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Various other schools will assist in placing you in a job or an apprenticeship upon graduation. Ask if the schools you are reviewing help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. These schools must have associations with local unions and various metal working businesses to which they can place their students. More established schools may have a more substantial network of graduates that they can rely upon for referrals. These programs can help students find employment and establish relationships within the College 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 essential that the welding school you choose has a higher completion rate. A lower rate could signify that the students who enrolled in the program were dissatisfied 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 school has an excellent reputation within the trade, but additionally that it has the network of College AK contacts to assist students obtain employment or apprenticeships upon graduation.

Modern Facilities and Equipment. Once you have limited your selection of welding schools to 2 or 3 possibilities, you should think out visiting the campuses to inspect their facilities. Verify that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be instructed on are up-to-date. In particular, the training equipment should be comparable 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. If not, ask a local College AK welding contractor if they can give you a few suggestions.

School Location. Although we previously briefly covered the importance of location, there are a few additional issues that we should deal with. You should keep in mind that unless you are able to relocate, the welder school you choose needs to be within commuting distance of your College AK home. If you do decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there may be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially the case for welder diploma programs offered by community colleges. Furthermore, if the school offers a job placement or apprenticeship program, more than likely their placements are within the school's regional community. So the location of the school needs to be in an area or state where you subsequently will desire to work.

Small Classes. Individualized instruction is important for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's easy to get lost in bigger classes and not obtain much personalized instruction. Find out what the usual class size is for the welder programs you are looking at. Inquire if you can attend some classes so that you can witness just how much personal attention the students are getting. While there, talk with a few of the students and get their opinions. Similarly, talk to a couple of the instructors and ask what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they have earned.

Convenient Class Schedules. Many people learn a new trade while still working at their current job. Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are flexible enough to satisfy your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near College AK, verify that the schools you are reviewing provide those alternatives. If you can only enroll part-time, make certain that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the policy is to make up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family responsibilities.

Learn More About College Welder Vocational Schools

Choose the Best College Welding Course for Certification

Picking the ideal welder training program will probably be the most critical decision you will make to launch your new profession. As we have addressed in this article, there are a number of factors that you will need to examine and compare between the programs you are reviewing. It's a must that any welding training that you are evaluating includes a considerable amount of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be small in size and each student must have their own welding machine to train on. Classroom teaching needs to offer a real-world perspective, and the training program should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Training programs vary in length and the kind of credential offered, so you will need to ascertain what length of program and credential will best serve your needs. Every training program provides different options for certification as well. Perhaps The ideal means to research your short list of schools is to visit each campus and speak with the students and instructors. Invest some time to monitor some classes. Inspect 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 commitment, the end result will be a new trade as a professional welder in College AK.

 

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