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How to Choose the Right Welder Certificate Program near Gateway Alaska

Gateway Alaska construction welder on the jobFinding the right welder technical school near Gateway AK is an essential first step to starting your new career as a professional welder. But since there are a lot of schools to select from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more significantly, once you have fine tuned your options, how do you select the right one? A number of prospective students start by looking at the schools that are closest to their homes. Once they have located those that are within commuting distance, they gravitate toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and tuition cost are important concerns when examining welder technical schools, but they are not the only ones. Other considerations include such things as reputation, accreditation and job placement rates. So before beginning your search for a trade school to become a welder, it's prudent to develop 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

Gateway Alaska welder working in metal shop

There are a number of options to obtain 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 courses than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Following are short summaries of the most typical welding programs available in the Gateway AK area.

  • Certificate and Diploma Programs are generally offered by technical and trade schools and take about one year to complete. They are more hands-on training in nature, designed largely to teach welding skills. They can provide a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or additional skills for working welders.
  • Associate Degree Programs will take two years to finish and are usually offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology offers a more well-rounded 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 prerequisites for welders, therefore make sure to find out for your location of future employment. As needed, the welding school you select should prepare you for any licensing examinations that you will have to take in addition to supplying the proper training to become a qualified welder.

Welding Certification Alternatives

Gateway Alaska welder welding metal frame

There are a number of institutions that provide welder certifications, which evaluate the knowledge and skill level of those applying. A large number of Gateway AK employers not only require a degree or certificate from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a highly regarded organization 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 various types of welds
  • Work in compliance with contract specifications

As previously mentioned, some states, cities or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those mandating licensing, many additionally require certification for different types of work. Certification is also a way to demonstrate to employers that you are a highly skilled and knowledgeable welder. So just as with licensing, look into the requirements for your location and confirm that the welder vocational school you select prepares you for certification as needed.

Topics to Ask Welder Tech Programs

Gateway Alaska welder welding electrical pole

Once you have decided on the credential you want to obtain, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can start to assess schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are numerous welding vocational and trade schools in the Gateway AK area. That's why it's essential to establish up front what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have previously discussed 2 significant ones that most people look at first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As mentioned, although they are essential qualifications, they are not the only ones that should be considered. After all, the school you choose is going to provide the instruction that will be the foundation of your new vocation as a welder. So below are some additional factors you might want to consider before choosing a welding vocational school.

Accreditation. It's extremely important that the welding vocational school you decide on is accredited by either a regional or a national organization. There are two standard kinds 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 instance Welding Technology. So make sure that the program you choose is accredited, not just the school itself. Additionally, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, like the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). In addition to helping ensure that you receive an excellent education, the accreditation may also help in securing financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases not offered in Gateway AK for non-accredited schools. Finally, for those states or municipalities that require licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited also.

Apprenticeship and Job Assistance Programs. Many welder degree or certificate programs are provided combined with an apprenticeship program. Various 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 partnerships with local unions and various 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 help students find employment and establish relationships within the Gateway AK welding community.

Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that start an educational program and finish it. It's essential that the welder school you choose has a high completion rate. A low rate may signify 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 an indication of the quality of training. A higher job placement rate will not only verify that the program has a good reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of Gateway AK contacts to help students obtain employment or apprenticeships after graduation.

Modern Equipment and Facilities. Once you have narrowed down your selection of welder schools to two or three options, you should consider visiting the campuses to inspect their facilities. Verify that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be instructed on are modern. In particular, the training equipment should be comparable to what you will be using on the job. If you are not sure what to look for, and are currently in an apprenticeship program, consult with the master welder you are working under for guidance. Otherwise, ask a local Gateway AK welding professional if they can give you some tips.

School Location. Even though we already briefly covered the relevance of location, there are a few additional issues that we should cover. You should keep in mind that unless you are able to relocate, the welding program you pick needs to be within driving distance of your Gateway AK home. If you do decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides moving expenses there may be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially true for welding diploma programs offered by community colleges. Also, 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 should be in a region or state where you subsequently will wish to work.

Smaller Classes. Individualized training is important for a manual trade such as welding. It's possible to get lost in bigger classes and not obtain much one-on-one instruction. Ask what the usual class size is for the welding schools you are reviewing. Inquire if you can sit in on a couple of classes so that you can experience just how much individual attention the students are receiving. While there, talk with a few of the students and get their evaluations. Also, chat with some of the instructors and find out 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. Check to see that the class schedules for the schools you are reviewing are convenient enough to meet your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Gateway AK, confirm that the schools you are reviewing offer those options. If you can only enroll part-time, make certain that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the protocol is to make up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family responsibilities.

Learn More About Gateway Welder Schools

Find the Best Gateway Welding Course for Certification

Selecting the best welder school will probably be the most important decision you will make to begin your new profession. As we have covered in this article, there are many factors that you will need to examine and compare between the schools you are reviewing. It's a must that any welding training program that you are considering includes a lot of hands-on instruction. Classes should be small in size and each student must have their personal welding machine to train on. Classroom education needs to provide a real-world context, and the training program should be current and in-line with industry standards. Training programs vary in length and the type of credential offered, so you will have to ascertain what length of program and credential will best satisfy your needs. Every program offers different options for certification as well. Probably the best way to research your final list of schools is to visit each campus and talk with the students and instructors. Take the time to sit in on a few classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the program you decide on is the right one for you. With the right training, effort and dedication, the final outcome will be a new occupation as a professional welder in Gateway AK.

 

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