How to Pick the Best Welding Certificate Program near Eagle River Alaska
Selecting the right welder technical school near Eagle River AK is an important first step to beginning your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are numerous schools to pick from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more importantly, once you have fine tuned your options, how do you pick the best one? Most prospective students begin by reviewing the schools that are closest to their homes. Once they have located those that are within driving distance, they are drawn toward the least expensive one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are important issues when reviewing welder trade schools, but they are not the only ones. Other considerations include such things as reputation, accreditation and job placement rates. So before initiating your search for a vocational school to become a welder, it's sensible to establish 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.
Welder Certificate and Degree Training Programs
There are multiple options available 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 available in Welding Engineering or Welding Technology, but are more advanced degrees than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Below are brief descriptions of the most typical welding programs available in the Eagle River AK area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are generally offered by trade and technical schools and require about 1 year to complete. They are more hands-on training in scope, fashioned largely to teach welding skills. They can furnish a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or additional skills for working welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take two years to finish and are most often offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology provides a more extensive education than the diploma or certificate while still providing the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
Some municipalities and states do have licensing prerequisites for welders, therefore don't forget to find out for your location of potential employment. As required, the welder school you select should ready you for any licensing exams that you will have to take in addition to supplying the suitable training to become a qualified welder.
Welding Certification Alternatives
There are multiple institutions that offer welding certifications, which test the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Many Eagle River AK employers not only demand a degree or certificate from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a highly regarded organization such as the American Welding Society (AWS). Different certifications are available based upon the type of work that the welder does. Some of the things that certification can attest to are the welder's ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specific metal thicknesses
- Work with various types of welds
- Work based on contract specifications
As previously stated, various states, cities or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those calling for licensing, a number also require certification for various kinds 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 certain that the welding vocational school you decide on preps you for certification if needed.
Questions to Ask Welding Vocational Programs
As soon as you have chosen the credential you want to attain, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can start to evaluate schools. As you probably know, there are a large number of welder vocational and trade schools in the Eagle River AK area. That's why it's important to determine in advance what qualifications your selected school must have. We have already covered two significant ones that many people consider first, which are location and tuition cost. 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 vocation as a welder. So below are more factors you may want to consider before picking a welder vocational school.
Accreditation. It's extremely important that the welder tech school you decide on is accredited by either a regional or a national organization. There are two standard kinds of accreditation. The school may earn Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a specific 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 agency, for example the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping make sure that you get a superior education, the accreditation might also help in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases not offered in Eagle River AK for non-accredited schools. Also, for those states or local governments that mandate licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited also.
Apprenticeship and Job Placement Programs. A large number of welding degree or certificate programs are provided combined with an apprenticeship program. Other schools will help place you in an apprenticeship or a job upon graduation. Ask if the schools you are looking at assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. These schools must have associations with local unions and various metal working businesses to which they can place their students. Older schools may have a larger network of graduates that they can rely upon for referrals. These programs can help students find employment and establish associations within the Eagle River AK welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that start an academic program and complete it. It's important that the welder school you choose has a higher completion rate. A reduced rate may indicate that the students who enrolled in the program were unhappy with the training, the instructors, or the facilities, and dropped out. The job placement rate is also an indication of the caliber of training. A higher job placement rate will not only affirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of Eagle River AK employer relationships to help students obtain employment or apprenticeships after graduation.
Modern Facilities and Equipment. Once you have decreased your selection of welder programs to two or three options, you should think out visiting the campuses to look over their facilities. Make sure that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be instructed on are modern. In particular, the training equipment should be comparable to what you will be using on the job. If you are unsure 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 Eagle River AK welding professional if they can give you some pointers.
School Location. Although we already briefly discussed the significance of location, there are a couple of additional issues that we should address. You should remember that unless you are able to relocate, the welder school you select needs to be within commuting distance of your Eagle River AK home. If you do choose to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides relocation expenses there may be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly true for welding certificate programs offered by community colleges. Additionally, if the school provides an apprenticeship or job placement program, most likely their placements are within the school's local community. So the location of the school needs to be in a region or state where you subsequently will desire to work.
Small Classes. One-on-one instruction is essential for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's possible to get overlooked in bigger classes and not get much personalized instruction. Find out what the average class size is for the welder programs you are looking at. Inquire if you can attend a few classes so that you can see how much personal attention the students are receiving. While there, talk with several of the students and get their opinions. Similarly, talk with a couple of the trainers and ask what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they hold.
Convenient Class Schedules. Lots of folks learn a new profession while still working at their current job. Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are looking at are convenient enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Eagle River AK, confirm that the schools you are looking at offer those choices. If you can only enroll part-time, verify that the school you decide on offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the protocol is to make up classes if you you miss any due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Right Eagle River Welding Program for Certification
Selecting the right welding 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 several things that you will need to assess and compare among the programs you are reviewing. It's a necessity that any welder training that you are reviewing includes a considerable amount of hands-on instruction. Classes should be small in size and every student should have their own welding machine to train on. Classroom teaching needs to provide a real-world perspective, and the curriculum should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Training programs differ in duration and the type of credential offered, so you will have to determine what length of program and certificate or degree will best satisfy your needs. Every program provides different options for certification as well. Perhaps The ideal approach to research your short list of schools is to go to each campus and speak with the teachers and students. Invest some time to sit in on a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the training program you select is the best one for you. With the proper training, effort and commitment, the end outcome will be a new occupation as a professional welder in Eagle River AK.