How to Enroll In the Right Welding Training Program near College Alaska
Finding the ideal welder school near College AK is an important first step to starting 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 importantly, once you have narrowed down your choices, how do you select the best one? A number of prospective students start by looking at the schools that are closest to their homes. Once they have located those that are within commuting distance, they gravitate toward the least expensive one. Yes, location and tuition cost are necessary considerations when examining welding vocational 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
There are multiple options to get training as a welder in a technical or trade school. You can obtain a diploma, a certificate or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are offered in Welding Engineering or Welding Technology, but are more advanced courses than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also offered combined with an apprenticeship program. Following are short descriptions of the most typical welding programs offered in the College AK area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are normally made available by technical and trade schools and require about a year to complete. They are more hands-on training in nature, fashioned primarily to develop welding skills. They can provide 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 well-rounded education than the diploma or certificate while still supplying the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
Some municipalities and states do have licensing prerequisites for welders, so be sure to check for your location of potential employment. If required, the welder school you select should prepare you for any licensing exams that you will need to take in addition to furnishing the proper training to become a professional welder.
Welder Certification Alternatives
There are multiple institutions that offer welder certifications, which test the knowledge and skill level of those applying. Numerous College AK employers not only expect a certificate or degree from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a highly regarded agency such as the American Welding Society (AWS). A wide range of certifications are offered based upon the kind of work that the welder does. Just some of the skills that certification can acknowledge are the welder's ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with certain metal thicknesses
- Work with various types of welds
- Operate based on contract specifications
As previously stated, some cities, states 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 welding trade school you choose readies you for certification if needed.
Topics to Ask Welding Technical Programs
After you have chosen the credential you want to earn, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can start to compare schools. As you can imagine, there are a large number of welder vocational and trade schools in the College AK area. That's why it's necessary to determine up front what qualifications your chosen school must have. We have previously covered two significant ones that many people consider first, which are location and tuition cost. As stated, although they are very important qualifications, they are not the only ones that must be considered. After all, the school you decide on is going to provide the training that will be the foundation of your new profession as a welder. So following are more factors you may need to evaluate before selecting a welder technical school.
Accreditation. It's extremely important that the welder tech school you pick is accredited by either a national or a regional agency. There are 2 standard types of accreditation. The school may receive Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on an individual program the school offers, for instance Welding Technology. So verify that the program you choose is accredited, not just the school itself. Also, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, for example the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping make sure that you receive an excellent education, the accreditation can also help in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not available in College AK for schools that are not accredited. Finally, for those states or municipalities that require licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited as well.
Apprenticeship and Job Placement Programs. Numerous welding degree or diploma programs are offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Other schools will assist in placing you in a job or an apprenticeship upon graduation. Ask if the schools you are looking at help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. These schools must 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 utilize for placements. These programs can assist students in finding employment and develop relationships within the College AK welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that begin an academic program and finish it. It's crucial that the welding program you pick has a higher completion rate. A reduced rate may mean that the students who joined the program were unhappy with the training, the instructors, or the facilities, and quit. The job placement rate is also an indication of the quality of training. A high job placement rate will not only confirm that the school has a good reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of College AK contacts to help students obtain employment or apprenticeships upon graduation.
Modern Facilities and Equipment. Once you have decreased your choice of welder schools to 2 or 3 options, you should consider going to the campuses to evaluate 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 comparable to what you will be using on the job. If you are uncertain what to look for, and are already in an apprenticeship program, ask the master welder you are working under for guidance. Otherwise, ask a local College AK welding contractor if they can give you some suggestions.
School Location. Although we already briefly discussed the importance of location, there are a couple of additional issues that we need to deal with. You should bear in mind that unless you are able to move, the welding school you select must be within driving distance of your College AK home. If you do opt to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there may be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly true for welding diploma programs offered by community colleges. Also, if the school offers an apprenticeship or job placement program, most likely their placements are within the school's regional community. So the location of the school should be in an area or state where you ultimately will wish to work.
Smaller Classes. One-on-one training is important for a manual trade such as welding. It's possible to get overlooked in bigger classes and not get much individualized training. Find out what the usual class size is for the welding programs you are reviewing. Ask if you can attend a couple of classes so that you can experience how much personal attention the students are getting. While there, speak with some of the students and get their opinions. Also, chat with a couple of the trainers and find out what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they hold.
Convenient Class Scheduling. Some people learn a new profession while still working at their present job. Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are looking at are convenient enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near College AK, make sure that the schools you are considering provide those choices. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you decide on offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the policy is to make up classes if you you miss any because of illness, work or family circumstances.
Choose the Best College Welding Course for Certification
Choosing the right welding school will undoubtedly be the most critical decision you will make to launch your new career. As we have covered in this article, there are a number of factors that you will need to examine and compare among the schools you are looking at. It's a must that any welder training program that you are considering includes a lot of hands-on training. Classes need to be smaller in size and each student must have their personal welding machine to train with. Classroom teaching needs to provide a real-world frame of reference, and the curriculum should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Training programs differ in length and the kind of credential offered, so you will need to determine what length of program and degree or certificate will best serve your needs. Each program offers different options for certification as well. Probably the best way to research your final list of schools is to visit each campus and talk with the teachers and students. Invest some time to monitor some classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the school you pick is the best one for you. With the proper training, effort and dedication, the final outcome will be a new occupation as a professional welder in College AK.