How to Select the Right Welding Vocational School near Eagle River Alaska
Enrolling in the ideal welder technical school near Eagle River AK is an essential first step to launching your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are so many schools to pick from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more notably, once you have fine tuned your options, how do you select the best one? Many prospective students begin by reviewing the schools that are closest to their homes. Once they have found those that are within commuting distance, they gravitate toward the least costly one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are important considerations when reviewing welding trade schools, but they are not the only ones. Other considerations include such things as accreditation, reputation and job placement rates. So before beginning your search for a trade school to become a welder, it's wise to develop a list of qualifications that your chosen 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 Degree and Certificate Training Courses
There are a number of options available to receive 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 programs than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available combined with an apprenticeship program. Below are brief explanations of the most common welding programs available in the Eagle River AK area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are generally offered by technical and trade schools and require about 1 year to finish. They are more hands-on training in nature, fashioned mainly to develop welding skills. They can provide a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or additional skills for experienced welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take two years to complete and are most often offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology provides a more well-rounded education than the diploma or certificate while still providing the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
Many municipalities and states do have licensing prerequisites for welders, therefore be sure to find out for your location of potential employment. As needed, the welder school you pick should prepare you for any licensing examinations that you will need to take in addition to providing the suitable training to become a qualified welder.
Welding Certification Choices
There are several institutions that provide welder certifications, which test the knowledge and skill level of those applying. Numerous Eagle River AK employers not only require a degree or certificate from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a highly regarded organization like the American Welding Society (AWS). A wide range of certifications are offered dependent on the kind of work that the welder performs. A few of the skills that certification can attest to are the welder's ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specified metal thicknesses
- Work with various types of welds
- Perform according to contract specifications
As earlier stated, many cities, states or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those requiring licensing, many also require certification for various types of work. Certification is also a way to demonstrate to employers that you are an extremely skilled and qualified welder. So just as with licensing, check the requirements for your local area and make sure that the welder tech school you select readies you for certification if needed.
What to Ask Welding Trade Schools
After you have decided on the credential you would like to earn, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can start to compare schools. As you probably know, there are many welder vocational and trade schools in the Eagle River AK area. That's why it's essential to establish in advance what qualifications your chosen school 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 essential qualifications, they are not the only ones that should be considered. After all, the program you decide on is going to furnish the instruction that will be the foundation of your new vocation as a welder. So following are some additional factors you might want to consider before picking a welding trade school.
Accreditation. It's essential that the welding tech school you pick is accredited by either a regional or a national organization. There are 2 basic types of accreditation. The school may attain Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on an individual program the school offers, for instance Welding Technology. So make certain 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, such as the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping make sure that you get a quality education, the accreditation may also assist in getting financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases not available in Eagle River AK for non-accredited schools. Also, for those states or local governments that mandate licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited also.
Apprenticeship and Job Assistance Programs. Many welder diploma or degree programs are offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Other schools will assist in placing you in an apprenticeship or a job after 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 relationships with local unions and other metal working businesses to which they can place their students. Older schools may have a larger network of graduates that they can utilize for placements. These programs can help students find employment and establish relationships within the Eagle River AK welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that start an instructional program and finish it. It's important that the welder program you choose has a high completion rate. A reduced rate might indicate 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 caliber of training. A higher job placement rate will not only verify that the program has an excellent reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of Eagle River AK contacts to help students secure employment or apprenticeships after graduation.
Up-to-date Equipment and Facilities. After you have narrowed down your choice of welding schools to 2 or 3 possibilities, you should consider going to the campuses to look over their facilities. Confirm that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be trained on are up-to-date. Specifically, 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 already 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 relevance of location, there are a few additional issues that we need to deal with. You should keep in mind that unless you have the ability to move, the welder program you select must be within commuting distance of your Eagle River AK home. If you do decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides moving costs there could 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 provides a job placement or apprenticeship program, more than likely their placements are within the school's regional community. So the location of the school should be in a region or state where you ultimately will want to work.
Smaller Classes. One-on-one instruction is important for a manual trade such as welding. It's possible to get overlooked in bigger classes and not get much individualized training. Ask what the average class size is for the welder schools you are considering. Ask if you can sit in on a few classes so that you can see how much individual attention the students are getting. While there, talk with a few of the students and get their opinions. Also, talk with a couple of the trainers and find out what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they hold.
Flexible Class Schedules. Many people learn a new trade while still employed at their present job. Make sure that the class schedules for the schools you are looking at are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Eagle River AK, make sure that the schools you are assessing provide those choices. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, make sure 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 because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Choose the Best Eagle River Welding School for Certification
Choosing the best welder school will undoubtedly be the most critical decision you will make to begin your new profession. As we have addressed in this article, there are several factors that you will need to evaluate and compare between the schools you are looking at. It's a must that any welder training program that you are examining includes a considerable amount of hands-on training. Classes need to be small in size and every student must have their personal welding machine to train on. Classroom instruction needs to provide a real-world perspective, and the training program should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Courses vary in length and the type of credential provided, so you will need to decide what length of program and certificate or degree will best satisfy your needs. Each training program provides different possibilities for certification as well. Perhaps the best approach to research your short list of schools is to visit each campus and speak with the teachers and students. Invest some time to monitor some classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the school you select is the best one for you. With the right training, hard work and commitment, the end outcome will be a new trade as a professional welder in Eagle River AK.