How to Select the Right Welding Technical School near Fairbanks Alaska
Choosing the ideal welding vocational school near Fairbanks AK is an important first step to beginning your new career as a professional welder. But since there are so many schools to select from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more importantly, once you have fine tuned your options, how do you select the right one? A number of prospective students begin by checking out the schools that are closest to their residences. When they have identified those that are within commuting distance, they gravitate toward the least costly one. Yes, location and tuition cost are necessary concerns when reviewing welding vocational schools, but they are not the only ones. Other concerns include such things as accreditation, reputation and job placement rates. So before beginning your search for a vocational school to become a welder, it's sensible 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.
Welder Degree and Certificate Training Courses
There are a number of alternatives available to get training as a welder in a trade or vocational school. You can receive a a certificate, a diploma 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 along with an apprenticeship program. Below are short summaries of the most typical welding programs available in the Fairbanks AK area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are generally offered by technical and trade schools and require about 1 year to finish. They are more hands-on training in nature, designed largely to develop welding skills. They can provide 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 usually offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology furnishes a more extensive education than the certificate or diploma while still providing the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
Many states and municipalities do have licensing prerequisites for welders, so make sure to check for your location of future employment. If required, the welder school you select should prepare you for any licensing examinations that you will need to take in addition to furnishing the suitable training to become a qualified welder.
Welder Certification Options
There are multiple institutions that offer welding certifications, which evaluate the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Numerous Fairbanks AK employers not only demand a degree or certificate from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a highly regarded agency such as the American Welding Society (AWS). A wide range of certifications are offered based on the kind of work that the welder performs. A few of the skills that certification can acknowledge are the welder's ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with certain metal thicknesses
- Work with specific kinds of welds
- Perform according to contract specifications
As previously mentioned, many states, cities or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those mandating licensing, some additionally require certification for different types of work. Certification is also a means to demonstrate to employers that you are an exceptionally skilled and experienced welder. So just as with licensing, check the requirements for your location and verify that the welder trade school you decide on readies you for certification if needed.
Points to Ask Welding Technical Programs
Once you have decided on the credential you want to earn, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can start to assess schools. As you probably know, there are a large number of welder trade and vocational schools in the Fairbanks AK area. That's why it's necessary to determine in advance what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have already covered 2 significant ones that most people consider first, which are location and tuition cost. As stated, although they are very important qualifiers, they are not the only ones that should be looked at. After all, the school you decide on is going to provide the education that will be the foundation of your new profession as a welder. So below are some additional factors you might need to evaluate before selecting a welding vocational school.
Accreditation. It's very important that the welder tech school you pick is accredited by either a regional or a national agency. There are 2 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 select is accredited, not just the school alone. Additionally, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, like the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). In addition to helping make sure that you receive a superior education, the accreditation can also help in getting financial assistance or student loans, which are often unavailable in Fairbanks AK for schools that are not accredited. Finally, for those states or municipalities that require licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited as well.
Job Assistance and Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of welding certificate or degree programs are provided combined with an apprenticeship program. Other schools will help place you in a job or an apprenticeship after graduation. Ask if the schools you are reviewing help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. The schools must have relationships 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 Fairbanks AK welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that enroll in an educational program and complete it. It's crucial that the welding program you select has a high completion rate. A reduced rate may indicate that the students who joined the program were unhappy with the instruction, the teachers, or the facilities, and dropped out. The job placement rate is also a good indicator of the caliber of training. A high job placement rate will not only affirm that the school has a good reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of Fairbanks AK employer relationships to assist students secure apprenticeships or employment after graduation.
Up-to-date Facilities and Equipment. Once you have narrowed down your choice of welding programs to two or three options, you should think out visiting the campuses to evaluate their facilities. Make sure that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be trained on are up-to-date. In particular, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be using in the field. 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. Otherwise, ask a local Fairbanks AK welding contractor if they can give you some suggestions.
School Location. Even though we already briefly talked about the significance of location, there are a few additional points that we need to deal with. You should keep in mind that unless you have the ability to move, the welding school you choose needs to be within commuting distance of your Fairbanks AK home. If you do decide to attend an out-of-state school, apart from relocation costs there might be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially the case for welding diploma programs offered by community colleges. Additionally, if the school provides a job placement or apprenticeship 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 want to work.
Small Classes. Individualized training is essential for a manual trade such as welding. It's possible to be overlooked in bigger classes and not get much personalized training. Find out what the usual class size is for the welder programs you are considering. Inquire if you can sit in on a couple of classes so that you can observe how much individual attention the students are receiving. While there, speak with several of the students and get their evaluations. Also, chat with some of the instructors and ask what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they have earned.
Convenient Class Scheduling. Lots of folks learn a new profession while still employed at their current job. Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are reviewing are convenient enough to satisfy your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Fairbanks AK, make certain that the schools you are considering offer those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you decide on offers part-time enrollment. Also, check to see what the policy is to make up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family emergencies.
Choose the Right Fairbanks Welding Training for Certification
Selecting the ideal welder school will probably be the most important decision you will make to start your new career. As we have discussed in this article, there are several things that you will need to examine and compare between the programs you are considering. It's a prerequisite that any welding training that you are reviewing includes a considerable amount of hands-on instruction. Classes should be small in size and every student must have their personal welding machine to train with. Classroom education needs to provide a real-world perspective, and the training program should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Programs differ in length and the kind of credential offered, so you will have to decide what length of program and certificate or degree will best serve your needs. Every training program provides different possibilities for certification as well. Probably The ideal approach to research your final list of schools is to check out each campus and talk with the teachers and students. Invest some time to attend some classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the school you choose is the right one for you. With the right training, hard work and commitment, the final result will be a new trade as a professional welder in Fairbanks AK.