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How to Enroll In the Best Welder Technical School near Gateway Alaska

Gateway Alaska construction welder at work siteSelecting the right welder school near Gateway AK is an important first step to beginning your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are so many schools to pick from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more notably, once you have fine tuned your options, how do you select the best one? A number of prospective students start by checking out the schools that are closest to their homes. Once they have located those that are within driving distance, they are drawn toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and tuition cost are crucial concerns when reviewing welder technical schools, but they are not the only ones. Other factors include such things as accreditation, reputation and job placement rates. So before initiating your search for a vocational school to become a welder, it's wise to develop a list of qualifications that your selected school must have. But before we explore our due diligence checklist, let's talk a little bit about how to become a welder.

Welding Certificate and Degree Training

Gateway Alaska welder welding in metal shop

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

  • Diploma and Certificate Programs are usually offered by trade and technical schools and require about one year to finish. They are more hands-on training in nature, designed largely to develop welding skills. They can furnish 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 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 providing the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.

Some states and municipalities do have licensing prerequisites for welders, therefore be sure to find out for your location of future employment. As needed, the welder school you pick should prepare you for any licensing examinations that you will need to take in addition to providing the appropriate training to become a qualified welder.

Welder Certification Choices

Gateway Alaska welder welding metal table

There are various organizations that offer welding certifications, which test the knowledge and skill level of those applying. A large number of Gateway AK employers not only demand a certificate or degree from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a respected agency like the American Welding Society (AWS). Different certifications are available based upon the type of work that the welder does. Just some of the things that certification can acknowledge are the welder's ability to

  • Operate in compliance with specific codes
  • Work with certain metal thicknesses
  • Work with certain kinds of welds
  • Operate in compliance with contract specifications

As previously stated, many states, cities or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those mandating licensing, a number also require certification for different types of work. Certification is also a way to prove to employers that you are a highly skilled and experienced welder. So just as with licensing, check the requirements for your local area and make certain that the welder vocational school you choose readies you for certification if needed.

Questions to Ask Welding Vocational Schools

Gateway Alaska electrician welding electrical beam

When you have decided on the credential you want to attain, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can start to compare schools. As you probably know, there are many welder trade and vocational schools in the Gateway AK area. That's why it's necessary to decide in advance what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have already discussed a couple of important ones that many people look at first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As mentioned, although they are essential qualifiers, they are not the only ones that need to be looked at. After all, the program you decide on is going to furnish the training that will be the foundation of your new profession as a welder. So below are some additional factors you may need to consider before picking a welding vocational school.

Accreditation. It's very important that the welding trade school you pick is accredited by either a regional or a national organization. There are 2 basic 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 has, for instance Welding Technology. So verify 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, such as the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping ensure that you get a quality education, the accreditation might also assist in securing financial aid or student loans, which are often not available in Gateway AK for schools that are not accredited. Finally, for those states or local governments that mandate licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited also.

Apprenticeship and Job Placement Programs. Many welder degree or certificate programs are offered combined with an apprenticeship program. Various other schools will assist in placing you in a job or an apprenticeship upon graduation. Ask if the schools you are reviewing assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. The schools must have associations with local unions and various metal working businesses to which they can refer their students. More established schools may have a larger network of graduates that they can rely upon for placements. These programs can help students find employment and develop associations within the Gateway AK welding community.

Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that enroll in an educational program and finish it. It's important that the welding program you pick has a higher completion rate. A low rate might mean that the students who enrolled in 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 higher job placement rate will not only affirm that the program has a good reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of Gateway AK contacts to assist students obtain employment or apprenticeships after graduation.

Up-to-date Equipment and Facilities. After you have decreased your choice of welder programs to 2 or 3 possibilities, you should think out visiting the campuses to inspect their facilities. Confirm that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be taught on are modern. In particular, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be working with in the field. 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. If not, ask a local Gateway AK welding professional if they can give you a few pointers.

School Location. Even though we previously briefly talked about the importance of location, there are a couple of additional issues that we need to cover. You should bear in mind that unless you are able to relocate, the welder school you select must be within driving distance of your Gateway AK home. If you do decide to attend an out-of-state school, apart from moving expenses there could be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly the case for welding degree programs offered by community colleges. Additionally, if the school provides a job placement or apprenticeship program, most likely 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 subsequently will wish to work.

Smaller Classes. Individualized instruction is essential for a manual trade such as welding. It's possible to be lost in bigger classes and not obtain much one-on-one training. Find out what the typical class size is for the welding schools you are considering. Inquire if you can sit in on a few classes so that you can witness how much personal attention the students are getting. While there, speak with some of the students and get their evaluations. Similarly, talk with a few of the trainers and ask what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they hold.

Flexible Class Scheduling. Some people learn a new profession while still employed at their current job. Confirm that the class schedules for the schools you are considering are convenient enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Gateway AK, verify that the schools you are looking at provide those options. 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 protocol is to make up classes if you you miss any because of illness, work or family responsibilities.

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Choose the Best Gateway Welding Program for Certification

Selecting the ideal welding training program will undoubtedly be the most important decision you will make to start your new trade. As we have covered in this article, there are several factors that you will need to examine and compare among the programs you are looking at. It's a necessity that any welding training that you are reviewing includes a considerable amount of hands-on instruction. Classes should be smaller in size and each student must have their own welding machine to train with. Classroom teaching should offer a real-world context, and the training program should be current and in-line with industry standards. Programs differ in length and the kind of credential provided, so you will need to decide what length of program and credential will best serve your needs. Every training program offers different options for certification as well. Probably the best approach to research your final list of schools is to check out each campus and speak with the students and faculty. Invest some time to monitor a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the program you choose is the ideal one for you. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, the final result will be a new occupation as a professional welder in Gateway AK.

 

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