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How to Pick the Best Welding Certification Course near Gateway Alaska

Gateway Alaska construction welder at work siteChoosing the right welder trade school near Gateway AK is an essential first step to launching your new occupation 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 notably, once you have narrowed down your choices, how do you select the best one? Most prospective students begin by checking out 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 crucial considerations when examining welding trade schools, but they are not the only ones. Other considerations 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 prudent to create a list of qualifications that your selected school must have. But before we examine our due diligence checklist, let's talk a little bit about how to become a welder.

Welder Degree and Certificate Training Programs

Gateway Alaska welder working in metal shop

There are multiple options available to obtain training as a welder in a technical or trade school. You can receive 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 in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Following are short summaries of the most common welding programs available in the Gateway AK area.

  • Certificate and Diploma Programs are normally offered by trade and technical schools and require about 1 year to finish. They are more hands-on training in nature, created mainly to teach welding skills. They can furnish a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or additional skills for working 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 diploma or certificate while still furnishing the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.

Many municipalities and states do have licensing requirements for welders, so don't forget to check for your location of potential employment. If needed, the welder school you select should prep you for any licensing exams that you will have to take in addition to supplying the proper training to become a professional welder.

Welder Certification Options

Gateway Alaska welder welding metal frame

There are a number of institutions that offer welding certifications, which evaluate the knowledge and skill level of those applying. Many Gateway AK employers not only require a degree or certificate from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a respected organization like the American Welding Society (AWS). A variety of certifications are offered based on the kind of work that the welder does. Just some of the skills that certification can acknowledge are the welder's ability to

  • Work in compliance with specific codes
  • Work with specified metal thicknesses
  • Work with specific types of welds
  • Operate according to contract specifications

As previously stated, many cities, states or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those mandating licensing, a number additionally require certification for various kinds of work. Certification is also a means to demonstrate to employers that you are an extremely skilled and qualified welder. So just as with licensing, check the requirements for your local area and verify that the welding technical school you select prepares you for certification as needed.

Questions to Ask Welder Trade Programs

Gateway Alaska welder welding electrical beam

Once you have decided on the credential you would like to earn, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can begin to assess schools. As you can imagine, there are a large number of welding vocational and trade schools in the Gateway AK area. That's why it's important to determine up front what qualifications your selected school must have. We have already covered 2 significant ones that many people look at first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As mentioned, although they are very important qualifiers, they are not the only ones that need to be looked at. After all, the school you pick is going to furnish the education that will be the foundation of your new vocation as a welder. So below are some additional factors you might want to evaluate before selecting a welder vocational school.

Accreditation. It's extremely important that the welding vocational school you pick is accredited by either a regional or a national 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 a specific program the school offers, such as Welding Technology. So confirm 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 agency, for example the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). In addition to helping ensure that you receive a superior education, the accreditation can also help in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are often not offered in Gateway AK for non-accredited schools. Finally, for those states or municipalities that mandate licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited also.

Apprenticeship and Job Assistance Programs. Many welding degree or diploma programs are provided combined with an apprenticeship program. Other schools will assist in placing you in a job or an apprenticeship upon graduation. Ask if the schools you are looking at help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. These schools must have associations 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 rely upon for placements. These programs can help students find employment and establish associations within the Gateway AK welding community.

Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that start an academic program and complete it. It's crucial that the welder program you select has a high completion rate. A reduced rate might signify that the students who were in the program were dissatisfied with the instruction, the instructors, or the facilities, and dropped out. The job placement rate is also an indication of the quality of training. A high job placement rate will not only confirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of Gateway AK employer relationships to help students secure employment or apprenticeships after graduation.

Up-to-date Facilities and Equipment. After you have decreased your choice of welding 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 instructed on are up-to-date. Specifically, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be using in the field. If you are not sure what to look for, and are already in an apprenticeship program, consult with the master welder you are working under for guidance. Otherwise, ask a local Gateway AK welding contractor if they can give you some pointers.

School Location. Even though we already briefly talked about the significance of location, there are a couple of additional points that we should cover. You should keep in mind that unless you are able to relocate, the welding school you pick needs to be within driving distance of your Gateway AK home. If you do opt to attend an out-of-state school, besides relocation 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. Additionally, if the school provides an apprenticeship or job placement program, more than likely their placements are within the school's regional community. So the location of the school needs to be in an area or state where you subsequently will want to work.

Smaller Classes. Individualized training is essential for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's easy to get overlooked in bigger classes and not obtain much individualized instruction. Find out what the typical class size is for the welder schools you are considering. Inquire if you can attend a couple of classes so that you can observe just how much individual attention the students are getting. While there, speak with some of the students and get their opinions. Similarly, speak with a couple of the teachers and find out what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they have earned.

Flexible Class Scheduling. Some people learn a new profession while still working at their present 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 Gateway AK, make certain that the schools you are assessing provide those alternatives. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, confirm that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, check to see what the policy is to make up classes if you you miss any due to illness, work or family responsibilities.

Learn More About Gateway Welding Schools

Find the Right Gateway Welding Course for Certification

Picking the best welding school will undoubtedly be the most critical decision you will make to start your new career. As we have covered in this article, there are many factors that you will need to examine and compare between the programs you are looking at. It's a must that any welding training that you are evaluating includes a good deal of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be small in size and each student should have their personal welding machine to train with. Classroom education needs to offer a real-world context, and the course of study should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Programs vary in duration and the kind of credential offered, so you will need to decide what length of program and certificate or degree will best satisfy your needs. Every program provides different options for certification also. Probably the best way to research your final list of schools is to check out each campus and speak with the faculty and students. Take the time to monitor some classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the training program you decide on is the right one for you. With the proper training, hard work and dedication, the end outcome will be a new trade as a professional welder in Gateway AK.

 

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