How to Find the Right Welder Certification Course near Fairbanks Alaska
Finding the right welding technical school near Fairbanks AK is an essential first step to launching your new career as a professional welder. But since there are so many schools to choose from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more notably, once you have fine tuned your options, how do you pick the best one? Many people start by looking at the schools that are closest to their residences. Once they have found those that are within driving distance, they are drawn toward the least expensive one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are important considerations when reviewing welder trade schools, but they are not the only ones. Other concerns include such things as reputation, accreditation and job placement rates. So before initiating your search for a trade school to become a welder, it's sensible to create a list of qualifications that your chosen school must have. But before we delve into our due diligence checklist, let's talk a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welder Certificate and Degree Training Courses
There are a number of options available to obtain training as a welder in a trade or technical school. You can obtain a a certificate, a diploma 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 in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Following are brief explanations of the most typical welding programs offered in the Fairbanks AK area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are normally offered by technical and trade schools and take about one year to finish. They are more hands-on training in scope, designed mainly to develop welding skills. They can furnish a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or supplemental skills for experienced welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take 2 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 providing the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
Some municipalities and states do have licensing requirements for welders, so don't forget to find out for your location of future employment. As needed, the welding school you pick should ready you for any licensing examinations that you will need to take in addition to furnishing the suitable training to become a qualified welder.
Welding Certification Alternatives
There are multiple institutions that offer welding certifications, which evaluate the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Numerous Fairbanks AK employers not only require a degree or certificate from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a highly regarded agency such as the American Welding Society (AWS). A wide range of certifications are available dependent on the type of work that the welder performs. A few 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 certain types of welds
- Perform based on contract specifications
As previously stated, many cities, states or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those requiring licensing, some additionally require certification for different kinds of work. Certification is also a means to prove to employers that you are an extremely skilled and qualified welder. So just as with licensing, look into the requirements for your location and confirm that the welder trade school you select preps you for certification if needed.
What to Ask Welding Vocational Programs
As soon as you have chosen the credential you want to obtain, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can start to compare schools. As you can imagine, there are a large number of welding trade and vocational schools in the Fairbanks AK area. That's why it's important to establish in advance what qualifications your chosen school must have. We have already covered 2 important ones that many people consider first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As stated, although they are very important qualifications, they are not the only ones that need to be looked at. After all, the program you pick is going to provide the training that will be the foundation of your new career as a welder. So following are more factors you might need to evaluate before picking a welder tech school.
Accreditation. It's very important that the welder trade school you choose is accredited by either a regional or a national organization. There are two standard 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, such as Welding Technology. So make certain that the program you choose is accredited, not just the school alone. Additionally, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, for example the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping ensure that you obtain an excellent education, the accreditation might also help in getting financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases not available in Fairbanks AK for non-accredited schools. Finally, for those states or local governments that require licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited as well.
Job Placement and Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of welder diploma or degree programs are provided combined with an apprenticeship program. Other schools will help place you in an apprenticeship or a job upon graduation. Find out if the schools you are considering help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. The schools must have associations with local unions and other metal working businesses to which they can place their students. Older schools may have a more substantial network of graduates that they can rely upon for placements. These programs can assist students in finding employment and establish relationships within the Fairbanks AK welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that enroll in an academic program and finish it. It's important that the welding program you pick has a higher completion rate. A lower rate might indicate that the students who enrolled in the program were unhappy with the training, the instructors, 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 affirm that the program has an excellent reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of Fairbanks AK contacts to help students obtain apprenticeships or employment upon graduation.
Up-to-date Facilities and Equipment. Once you have narrowed down your selection of welding schools to 2 or 3 possibilities, you should consider visiting the campuses to evaluate their facilities. Verify that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are up-to-date. Specifically, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be using on the job. If you are unsure what to look for, and are already in an apprenticeship program, ask the master welder you are working under for guidance. If not, ask a local Fairbanks AK welding contractor if they can give you a few pointers.
School Location. Even though we previously briefly covered the importance of location, there are a couple of additional issues that we should cover. You should keep in mind that unless you are able to relocate, the welder program you choose needs to be within driving distance of your Fairbanks AK home. If you do decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there could be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially the case for welder degree programs offered by community colleges. Furthermore, if the school provides 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 a region or state where you ultimately will wish to work.
Small Classes. One-on-one training is important for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's easy to get lost in larger classes and not receive much individualized training. Ask what the typical class size is for the welder programs you are looking at. Ask if you can sit in on some classes so that you can see how much personal attention the students are getting. While there, talk with a few of the students and get their feedback. Similarly, talk to a couple of the trainers and ask what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they have earned.
Flexible Class Scheduling. Some people learn a new trade while still employed at their current job. Check to see that the class schedules for the programs you are considering are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Fairbanks AK, make sure that the schools you are considering offer those alternatives. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, verify that the school you pick offers part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the protocol is to make up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Fairbanks Welding Program for Certification
Picking the right welder school will probably be the most important decision you will make to start your new trade. As we have addressed in this article, there are several things that you will need to evaluate and compare between the schools you are considering. It's a prerequisite that any welding training that you are reviewing includes a lot of hands-on training. Classes should be smaller in size and each student must have their personal welding machine to train on. Classroom instruction should offer a real-world perspective, and the course of study should be current and in-line with industry standards. Programs differ in length and the kind of credential provided, so you will have to decide what length of program and certificate or degree will best fulfill your needs. Every program provides different possibilities for certification as well. Probably The ideal approach to research your short list of schools is to visit each campus and talk with the teachers and students. Take the time to attend some classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the training program you decide on is the best one for you. With the right training, hard work and commitment, the end result will be a new occupation as a professional welder in Fairbanks AK.