How to Pick the Best Welder Vocational School near College Alaska
Selecting the ideal welding vocational school near College AK is an important first step to launching your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are numerous schools to choose from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more significantly, once you have narrowed down your choices, how do you pick the best one? Most people begin by looking at the schools that are nearest to their residences. Once they have located those that are within driving distance, they gravitate toward the least costly one. Yes, location and tuition cost are important issues when examining welder technical schools, but they are not the only ones. Other factors include such things as reputation, accreditation and job placement rates. So before starting your search for a trade school to become a welder, it's sensible to create a list of qualifications that your selected school must have. But before we examine our due diligence checklist, let's cover a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welding Degree and Certificate Training Classes
There are a number of options available to get training as a welder in a trade or vocational school. You can earn a a certificate, a diploma or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are available in Welding Technology or Welding Engineering, but are more advanced programs than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also offered combined with an apprenticeship program. Below are short summaries of the most prevalent welding programs offered in the College AK area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are usually made available by technical and trade schools and take about 1 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 supplemental skills for working welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take 2 years to complete and are usually offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology provides a more well-rounded education than the certificate or diploma while still furnishing the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
A number of states and municipalities do have licensing requirements for welders, therefore make sure to find out for your location of future employment. As needed, the welder school you choose should prep you for any licensing examinations that you will have to pass in addition to providing the suitable training to become a professional welder.
Welding Certification Options
There are various organizations that provide welder certifications, which evaluate the knowledge and skill level of those applying. A large number of College AK employers not only require a degree or certificate from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a highly regarded organization such as the American Welding Society (AWS). A wide range of certifications are offered based upon the kind of work that the welder performs. Some of the skills that certification can acknowledge are the welder's ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with certain metal thicknesses
- Work with various kinds of welds
- Operate based on contract specifications
As already stated, various cities, states or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those requiring licensing, a number additionally require certification for different kinds of work. Certification is also a way to prove to employers that you are an extremely skilled and experienced welder. So similarly as with licensing, look into the requirements for your location and make sure that the welding technical school you choose readies you for certification if needed.
Subjects to Ask Welding Trade Schools
As soon as you have decided on the credential you would like to obtain, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can start to compare schools. As you probably know, there are many welder trade and technical 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 already covered a couple of important ones that many people consider first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As stated, although they are essential qualifiers, they are not the only ones that should be looked at. After all, the program you decide on is going to provide the education that will be the foundation of your new career as a welder. So below are more factors you might want to evaluate before selecting a welding technical school.
Accreditation. It's extremely important that the welder vocational school you select is accredited by either a regional or a national agency. There are two basic kinds 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, for instance Welding Technology. So make certain that the program you choose is accredited, not just the school alone. Also, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, such as the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). In addition to helping ensure that you get an excellent education, the accreditation can also assist in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are often not offered in College AK for schools that are not accredited. Also, 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. A large number of welder degree or diploma programs are provided in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Other schools will help place 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 associations with local unions and other metal working businesses to which they can refer 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 associations within the College AK welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that start an educational program and finish it. It's essential that the welding school you choose has a high completion rate. A lower rate might signify that the students who joined the program were unhappy with the instruction, the teachers, 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 affirm that the program has an excellent reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of College AK employer relationships to assist students secure apprenticeships or employment after graduation.
Up-to-date Equipment and Facilities. Once you have limited your selection of welder schools to two or three options, you should think out visiting the campuses to evaluate their facilities. Make sure that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are up-to-date. In particular, 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 currently in an apprenticeship program, consult with the master welder you are working under for guidance. Otherwise, ask a local College AK welding contractor if they can give you some pointers.
School Location. Although we previously briefly discussed the relevance of location, there are a couple of additional issues that we need to address. You should remember that unless you are able to move, the welding school you select must be within commuting distance of your College AK home. If you do opt to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides moving costs there might be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially true for welding certificate programs offered by community colleges. Furthermore, if the school offers an apprenticeship or job placement program, often 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. One-on-one instruction is essential for a manual trade such as welding. It's possible to be overlooked in larger classes and not obtain much personalized training. Ask what the usual class size is for the welder programs you are looking at. Ask if you can attend a few classes so that you can see just how much personal attention the students are getting. While there, talk with a few of the students and get their opinions. Also, talk to a few of the teachers and find out what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they hold.
Flexible Class Scheduling. Many people learn a new profession while still working at their present job. Confirm that the class schedules for the schools you are considering are convenient enough to meet your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near College AK, verify that the schools you are reviewing provide those options. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, 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, illness or family emergencies.
Choose the Right College Welding School for Certification
Picking the right welder training program will undoubtedly be the most important decision you will make to launch your new career. As we have covered in this article, there are many factors that you will need to assess and compare between the programs you are reviewing. It's a prerequisite that any welding training program 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 personal welding machine to train with. Classroom teaching should provide a real-world perspective, and the course of study should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Programs vary in length and the kind of credential provided, so you will need to ascertain what length of program and degree or certificate will best satisfy your needs. Every program offers unique options for certification also. Probably the best way to research your short list of schools is to go to each campus and speak with the faculty and students. Take the time to sit in on a few classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the training program you pick is the ideal one for you. With the right training, effort and commitment, the final outcome will be a new career as a professional welder in College AK.