How to Enroll In the Right Welder Vocational School near Fairbanks Alaska
Finding the right welder trade school near Fairbanks AK is an important first step to starting your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are so many schools to choose from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more importantly, once you have fine tuned your choices, how do you pick the best one? Most prospective students start by reviewing the schools that are closest to their homes. When they have identified those that are within driving distance, they are drawn toward the least expensive one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are crucial concerns when evaluating welder vocational schools, but they are not the only ones. Other concerns include such things as reputation, accreditation and job placement rates. So before starting your search for a vocational school to become a welder, it's prudent to develop 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 Certificate and Degree Training
There are several alternatives available to obtain training as a welder in a trade or technical 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 made available along with an apprenticeship program. Below are brief explanations of the most typical welding programs available in the Fairbanks AK area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are generally offered by trade and technical schools and require about 1 year to finish. They are more hands-on training in nature, created primarily to develop welding skills. They can furnish a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or specialized skills for experienced welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take two years to finish and are most often offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology offers a more well-rounded education than the certificate or diploma while still furnishing the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
Many states and municipalities do have licensing requirements for welders, so be sure to find out for your location of future employment. If required, the welding school you choose should prep you for any licensing examinations that you will have to pass in addition to furnishing the proper training to become a qualified welder.
Welder Certification Choices
There are several organizations that offer welder certifications, which assess the knowledge and skill level of those applying. A large number of Fairbanks AK employers not only require a degree or certificate from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a respected 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
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specific metal thicknesses
- Work with various types of welds
- Operate in compliance with contract specifications
As previously mentioned, various cities, states or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those mandating licensing, a number additionally require certification for different kinds of work. Certification is also a means to prove to employers that you are an extremely skilled and experienced welder. So similarly as with licensing, check the requirements for your local area and make certain that the welder tech school you decide on preps you for certification as needed.
Questions to Ask Welder Technical Programs
As soon as you have chosen the credential you would like to obtain, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can begin to assess schools. As you can imagine, there are a large number of welder vocational and trade schools in the Fairbanks AK area. That's why it's essential to decide in advance what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have previously covered 2 important ones that most people look at first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As stated, although they are very important qualifications, they are not the only ones that should be looked at. 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 below are more factors you might want to evaluate before selecting a welder tech school.
Accreditation. It's extremely important that the welder vocational school you choose is accredited by either a national or a regional agency. There are two 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 has, for example 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, such as the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). In addition to helping ensure that you get a superior education, the accreditation might also help in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable in Fairbanks 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 as well.
Apprenticeship and Job Placement Programs. A large number of welder certificate or degree programs are provided in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Various other schools will help place 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 assistance program. These schools must have partnerships with local unions and other metal working businesses to which they can place their students. More established schools may have a more substantial network of graduates that they can utilize for placements. These programs can assist students in finding employment and develop associations within the Fairbanks AK welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that begin an academic program and complete it. It's essential that the welder program you select has a higher completion rate. A low rate could 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 a good indicator of the caliber of training. A higher job placement rate will not only confirm that the school has a good reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of Fairbanks AK employer relationships to help students obtain employment or apprenticeships after graduation.
Up-to-date Facilities and Equipment. Once you have narrowed down your selection of welder schools to 2 or 3 possibilities, you should consider going to the campuses to evaluate their facilities. Confirm that both the facilities and the equipment 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 not sure what to look for, and are currently in an apprenticeship program, ask the master welder you are working under for guidance. If not, ask a local Fairbanks AK welding professional if they can give you some pointers.
School Location. Even though we previously briefly talked about the significance of location, there are a couple of additional points that we need to deal with. You should keep in mind that unless you can relocate, the welding school you pick needs to be within driving distance of your Fairbanks AK home. If you do decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides moving expenses there could be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly the case for welder diploma programs offered by community colleges. Also, if the school offers an apprenticeship or job placement program, often 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 wish to work.
Small Classes. One-on-one instruction is essential for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's easy to be overlooked in larger classes and not obtain much personalized instruction. Ask what the typical class size is for the welder programs you are reviewing. Inquire if you can attend a couple of classes so that you can observe just how much individual attention the students are receiving. While there, talk with several of the students and get their opinions. Also, speak with a couple of the instructors and ask what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they hold.
Convenient Class Schedules. Lots of folks learn a new trade while still employed at their current job. Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are considering are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Fairbanks AK, confirm that the schools you are reviewing provide those choices. If you can only enroll part-time, confirm that the school you pick 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.
Find the Right Fairbanks Welding Program for Certification
Choosing the best welder school will probably be the most critical decision you will make to launch your new career. As we have addressed in this article, there are a number of things that you will need to evaluate and compare among the schools you are considering. It's a necessity that any welder training that you are assessing includes a considerable amount of hands-on instruction. Classes should be smaller in size and each student must have their own welding machine to train on. Classroom teaching needs to provide a real-world frame of reference, and the curriculum should be current and in-line with industry standards. Courses differ in length and the type of credential provided, so you will have to determine what length of program and certificate or degree will best fulfill your needs. Each program offers different options for certification as well. Probably the best way to research your final list of schools is to go to each campus and speak with the faculty and students. Invest some time to sit in on some classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the school you decide on is the ideal one for you. With the proper training, hard work and dedication, the end outcome will be a new career as a professional welder in Fairbanks AK.