How to Pick the Right Welding Trade School near College Alaska
Finding the right welder vocational school near College AK is an essential first step to starting your new career as a professional welder. But since there are so many schools to pick from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more significantly, once you have fine tuned your options, how do you select the best one? Most prospective students begin by checking out the schools that are nearest to their homes. When they have identified those that are within commuting distance, they are drawn toward the least expensive one. Yes, location and tuition cost are important issues when evaluating welding trade schools, but they are not the only ones. Other considerations include such things as accreditation, reputation and job placement rates. So before starting your search for a vocational school to become a welder, it's prudent to establish 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 Courses
There are several options available to receive training as a welder in a trade or vocational school. You can receive a a certificate, a diploma or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are available in Welding Technology or Welding Engineering, but are more advanced degrees than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Following are short explanations of the most typical welding programs offered in the College AK area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are generally offered by trade and technical schools and require about a year to complete. They are more hands-on training in scope, created largely to teach welding skills. They can provide a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or specialized skills for experienced welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take 2 years to finish and are usually offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology offers a more extensive education than the diploma or certificate while still supplying the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
A number of states and municipalities do have licensing requirements for welders, so be sure to check for your location of future employment. As needed, the welder school you choose should prepare you for any licensing examinations that you will need to pass in addition to furnishing the suitable training to become a professional welder.
Welder Certification Choices
There are several organizations that offer welder certifications, which test the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Many College AK employers not only require a certificate or degree from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a renowned agency like the American Welding Society (AWS). A wide range of certifications are offered dependent on the kind of work that the welder does. Some of the skills that certification can acknowledge are the welder's ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specific metal thicknesses
- Work with various kinds of welds
- Perform in compliance with contract specifications
As earlier mentioned, many cities, states or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those mandating licensing, many additionally require certification for different kinds of work. Certification is also a way to prove to employers that you are an exceptionally skilled and qualified welder. So just as with licensing, look into the requirements for your location and confirm that the welding vocational school you select readies you for certification if needed.
Subjects to Ask Welding Vocational Programs
When you have decided on the credential you want to obtain, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can begin to compare schools. As you can imagine, there are many welding trade and technical schools in the College AK area. That's why it's important to establish in advance what qualifications your selected school must have. We have previously discussed two important ones that many 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 program you select is going to provide the training that will be the foundation of your new profession as a welder. So below are some additional factors you might want to evaluate before selecting a welding trade school.
Accreditation. It's very important that the welder technical school you decide on is accredited by either a regional or a national agency. There are two standard kinds of accreditation. The school may attain Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a single program the school has, such as Welding Technology. So make sure that the program you choose 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). In addition to helping ensure that you get a superior education, the accreditation can also assist in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases not available in College AK for non-accredited schools. Finally, for those states or municipalities that require licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited also.
Job Placement and Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous welding degree or diploma programs are provided in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Various other schools will help place you in a job or an apprenticeship upon graduation. Find out if the schools you are looking at help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. The schools should have associations with local unions and various metal working businesses to which they can refer 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 associations within the College AK welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that start an academic program and finish it. It's essential that the welding school you pick has a higher completion rate. A reduced rate could signify that the students who were in the program were dissatisfied with the training, 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 also that it has the network of College AK employer relationships to assist students secure apprenticeships or employment after graduation.
Modern Equipment and Facilities. After you have limited your selection of welding programs to 2 or 3 options, you should think out going to the campuses to look over their facilities. Verify that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be taught on are up-to-date. In particular, the training equipment should be comparable to what you will be using in the field. If you are uncertain 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 College AK welding professional if they can give you some suggestions.
School Location. Although we previously briefly covered the significance of location, there are a few additional points that we need to deal with. You should bear in mind that unless you have the ability to relocate, the welder school you choose 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 moving costs there might be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially true for welder diploma programs offered by community colleges. Additionally, if the school offers a job placement or apprenticeship program, often their placements are within the school's regional community. So the location of the school needs to be in a region or state where you ultimately will desire to work.
Smaller Classes. Individualized training is essential for a manual trade such as welding. It's possible to be lost in larger classes and not obtain much one-on-one instruction. Ask what the typical class size is for the welding programs you are looking at. Inquire if you can attend a couple of classes so that you can experience just how much personal attention the students are receiving. While there, talk with some of the students and get their evaluations. Similarly, speak with a few of the teachers and ask what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they have earned.
Flexible Class Schedules. Some people learn a new profession while still working at their current job. Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are looking at are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near College AK, make sure that the schools you are reviewing provide those options. If you can only enroll part-time, make sure 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 illness, work or family emergencies.
Find the Best College Welding School for Certification
Choosing the best welder school will undoubtedly be the most critical decision you will make to launch your new career. As we have discussed in this article, there are many things that you will need to examine and compare among the schools you are considering. It's a necessity that any welding school that you are reviewing includes a good deal of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be small in size and every student must have their own welding machine to train with. Classroom instruction needs to provide a real-world frame of reference, and the course of study should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Programs differ in duration and the type of credential provided, so you will have to determine what length of program and certificate or degree will best satisfy your needs. Each program offers different options for certification as well. Perhaps The ideal means to research your final list of schools is to visit each campus and speak 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 school you select is the right one for you. With the right training, effort and dedication, the final outcome will be a new trade as a professional welder in College AK.