How to Enroll In the Right Welding Training Program near Fairbanks Alaska
Enrolling in the right welding technical school near Fairbanks AK is an essential first step to beginning 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 alternatives, how do you pick the right one? Most prospective students begin by reviewing the schools that are closest to their residences. Once they have located those that are within commuting distance, they gravitate toward the least costly one. Yes, location and tuition cost are important considerations when examining 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 prudent 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.
Welding Certificate and Degree Training Programs
There are multiple options to receive training as a welder in a trade or technical school. You can receive a diploma, a certificate or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are available in Welding Engineering or Welding Technology, but are more advanced courses than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available combined with an apprenticeship program. Below are brief explanations of the most prevalent welding programs available in the Fairbanks AK area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are generally offered by trade and technical schools and take about one year to finish. They are more hands-on training in scope, designed primarily to develop welding skills. They can furnish a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or supplemental skills for working welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take 2 years to finish and are usually offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology offers a more extensive education than the diploma or certificate while still providing the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
A number of municipalities and states do have licensing requirements for welders, so don't forget to check for your location of future employment. As required, the welding school you pick should prepare you for any licensing exams that you will have to take in addition to supplying the appropriate training to become a qualified welder.
Welder Certification Alternatives
There are multiple institutions that provide welder certifications, which test the knowledge and skill level of those applying. Numerous Fairbanks AK employers not only demand a certificate or degree from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a highly regarded organization like the American Welding Society (AWS). Different certifications are available based on the kind of work that the welder does. A few of the skills 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 according to contract specifications
As already stated, many states, cities or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those calling for licensing, some additionally require certification for different kinds of work. Certification is also a means to prove to employers that you are a highly skilled and experienced welder. So just as with licensing, look into the requirements for your location and make certain that the welding trade school you select prepares you for certification as needed.
What to Ask Welding Technical Schools
When you have chosen the credential you want to attain, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can begin to compare schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are numerous welding vocational and trade schools in the Fairbanks AK area. That's why it's essential to establish up front what qualifications your chosen school must have. We have previously discussed a couple of significant ones that many people look at first, which are location and tuition cost. As stated, although they are very important qualifiers, they are not the only ones that must be considered. After all, the program you choose is going to furnish the training that will be the foundation of your new profession as a welder. So below are more factors you may want to consider before picking a welding trade school.
Accreditation. It's essential that the welder tech school you pick is accredited by either a national or a regional organization. There are 2 basic types of accreditation. The school may earn Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a single program the school has, for instance Welding Technology. So make sure that the program you select is accredited, not just the school alone. Also, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, for example the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping make sure that you receive a superior education, the accreditation may also assist in getting financial assistance or student loans, which are often not available in Fairbanks AK for non-accredited schools. Also, for those states or municipalities that require licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited as well.
Apprenticeship and Job Placement Programs. A large number of welder degree or certificate programs are provided in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Other schools will assist in placing you in a job or an apprenticeship upon graduation. Find out if the schools you are considering assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. These schools should have relationships with local unions and various 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 referrals. These programs can assist students in finding employment and develop 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 instructional program and complete it. It's important that the welding school you select has a higher completion rate. A low rate might mean that the students who were in the program were dissatisfied 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 affirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of Fairbanks AK employer relationships to help students obtain apprenticeships or employment after graduation.
Modern Facilities and Equipment. After you have narrowed down your selection of welder schools to two or three possibilities, you should consider visiting the campuses to look over their facilities. Verify that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be taught on are modern. 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 a few pointers.
School Location. Although we previously briefly discussed the relevance of location, there are a few additional issues that we should address. You should keep in mind that unless you can move, the welding program you choose must be within commuting distance of your Fairbanks AK home. If you do decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there might 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 a job placement or apprenticeship 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 wish to work.
Small Classes. Individualized instruction is important for a manual trade such as welding. It's easy to get lost in larger classes and not get much individualized training. Ask what the usual class size is for the welding programs you are looking at. Ask if you can attend a couple of classes so that you can see just how much personal attention the students are getting. While there, speak with some of the students and get their feedback. Similarly, talk to a couple of the trainers and find out what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they have earned.
Convenient Class Scheduling. Some people learn a new trade while still working at their current job. Make sure that the class schedules for the schools you are considering are convenient enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Fairbanks AK, confirm that the schools you are considering provide those options. If you can only enroll part-time, make sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the protocol is to make up classes should you miss any because of illness, work or family circumstances.
Find the Best Fairbanks Welding School for Certification
Choosing the best welding school will undoubtedly be the most critical decision you will make to begin your new career. As we have addressed in this article, there are a number of factors that you will need to examine and compare between the schools you are considering. It's a necessity that any welding training that you are considering includes a good deal of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be small in size and each student should have their own welding machine to train with. Classroom instruction should offer a real-world perspective, and the course of study should be current and conform with industry standards. Courses vary in length and the type of credential provided, so you will have to determine what length of program and degree or certificate will best serve your needs. Every program offers unique options for certification as well. Probably The ideal means to research your final list of schools is to check out each campus and talk with the teachers and students. Take the time to monitor a few classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the training program you pick is the ideal one for you. With the right training, hard work and commitment, the end outcome will be a new career as a professional welder in Fairbanks AK.