How to Choose the Right Welding Trade School near Gateway Alaska
Enrolling in the right welder trade 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 choose from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more importantly, once you have fine tuned your options, how do you pick the right one? Many people begin by checking out the schools that are closest to their homes. Once they have identified those that are within driving distance, they gravitate toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are crucial issues when evaluating welder vocational schools, but they are not the only ones. Other factors include such things as accreditation, reputation and job placement rates. So before starting your search for a trade school to become a welder, it's prudent to create a list of qualifications that your chosen 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 Programs
There are a number of options to get training as a welder in a trade or vocational school. You can obtain a diploma, a certificate or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are offered in Welding Engineering or Welding Technology, but are more advanced degrees than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also offered combined with an apprenticeship program. Below are brief explanations of the most typical welding programs available in the Gateway AK area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are usually made available by trade and technical schools and require about a year to complete. They are more hands-on training in scope, designed mainly to develop 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 2 years to complete and are most often offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology provides a more well-rounded education than the certificate or diploma while still providing the foundation that prepares 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. If needed, the welder school you choose should prepare you for any licensing examinations that you will need to pass in addition to supplying the suitable training to become a professional welder.
Welding Certification Choices
There are a number of institutions that provide welding certifications, which test the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Numerous Gateway AK employers not only demand a degree or certificate from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a highly regarded organization like the American Welding Society (AWS). A variety of certifications are available based on the kind of work that the welder does. 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 various kinds of welds
- Perform based on contract specifications
As previously mentioned, some cities, states or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those calling for licensing, many also require certification for different types of work. Certification is also a way to demonstrate to employers that you are an extremely skilled and qualified welder. So just as with licensing, look into the requirements for your location and make certain that the welder vocational school you decide on readies you for certification if needed.
Topics to Ask Welding Trade Schools
After you have chosen the credential you want to obtain, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can start to evaluate schools. As you probably know, there are a large number of welder trade and vocational schools in the Gateway AK area. That's why it's essential to determine in advance what qualifications your chosen school must have. We have already covered two important ones that most people look at first, which are location and tuition cost. As stated, although they are essential qualifications, they are not the only ones that need to be looked at. After all, the school you choose is going to furnish the training that will be the foundation of your new vocation as a welder. So following are more factors you may want to consider before selecting a welder vocational school.
Accreditation. It's essential that the welding technical school you choose is accredited by either a national or a regional agency. There are two basic kinds 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, for instance Welding Technology. So confirm that the program you choose is accredited, not just the school alone. Additionally, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, like the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). In addition to helping make sure that you get a quality education, the accreditation can also assist in acquiring 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 welder training program be accredited also.
Apprenticeship and Job Placement 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 after graduation. Ask if the schools you are reviewing assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. The schools should have partnerships 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 utilize for referrals. These programs can assist students in finding employment and develop associations within the Gateway AK welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that begin an academic program and finish it. It's essential that the welder school you select has a high completion rate. A low rate may mean that the students who were 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 caliber of training. A high job placement rate will not only verify that the program has an excellent reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of Gateway AK employer relationships to assist students secure apprenticeships or employment after graduation.
Up-to-date Facilities and Equipment. After you have narrowed down your selection of welding programs to 2 or 3 possibilities, you should consider visiting the campuses to evaluate their facilities. Verify that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be instructed on are up-to-date. In particular, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be working with in the field. If you are unsure what to look for, and are currently in an apprenticeship program, ask the master welder you are working under for guidance. Otherwise, ask a local Gateway AK welding professional if they can give you a few suggestions.
School Location. Even though we previously briefly covered the significance of location, there are a few additional points that we should address. You should keep in mind that unless you are able to move, the welding program you pick must be within driving distance of your Gateway AK home. If you do choose to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to moving expenses there might be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly the case for welder degree programs offered by community colleges. Additionally, if the school offers a job placement or apprenticeship program, more than likely their placements are within the school's regional community. So the location of the school should be in a region or state where you ultimately will want to work.
Smaller Classes. One-on-one instruction is essential for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's easy to get lost in larger classes and not receive much one-on-one instruction. Find out what the usual class size is for the welding programs you are looking at. Ask if you can sit in on a few classes so that you can experience just how much individual attention the students are getting. While there, speak with several of the students and get their opinions. Also, chat with some of the instructors and find out what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they hold.
Flexible Class Scheduling. Some people learn a new profession while still working at their present job. Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are considering are convenient enough to satisfy your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Gateway AK, verify that the schools you are looking at provide those alternatives. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, verify that the school you pick offers part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the policy is to make up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family responsibilities.
Choose the Right Gateway Welding School for Certification
Selecting the ideal welding school will undoubtedly be the most important decision you will make to start your new career. As we have covered in this article, there are a number of factors that you will need to assess and compare among the programs you are reviewing. It's a must that any welding training that you are assessing includes a considerable amount of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be smaller in size and every student must have their personal welding machine to train with. Classroom instruction needs to offer a real-world perspective, and the course of study should be current and in-line with industry standards. Programs differ in duration and the kind of credential provided, so you will have to ascertain what length of program and certificate or degree will best satisfy your needs. Each program offers unique possibilities for certification also. Probably The ideal way to research your short list of schools is to check out each campus and talk with the faculty and students. Take the time to monitor a few classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the program you choose 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.