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How to Select the Right Welding Certification Course near Gateway Alaska

Gateway Alaska construction welder on the jobFinding the ideal welding trade school near Gateway AK is an important first step to starting your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are a lot of schools to choose from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more notably, once you have fine tuned your alternatives, how do you select the best one? Most people start by reviewing the schools that are nearest to their residences. Once they have located those that are within commuting distance, they gravitate toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and tuition cost are necessary issues when reviewing welding trade 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 trade school to become a welder, it's sensible to establish 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 fabrication shop

There are multiple options available 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 offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Below are short summaries of the most typical welding programs offered in the Gateway AK area.

  • Diploma and Certificate Programs are usually offered by technical and trade schools and require about one year to complete. They are more hands-on training in scope, designed mainly to teach welding skills. They can provide a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or specialized skills for experienced welders.
  • Associate Degree Programs will take 2 years to finish and are most often offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology provides a more extensive education than the certificate or diploma while still furnishing the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.

Some municipalities and states do have licensing prerequisites for welders, therefore make sure to check for your location of potential employment. If needed, the welder school you select should ready you for any licensing examinations that you will need to take in addition to providing the appropriate training to become a professional welder.

Welding Certification Alternatives

Gateway Alaska welder welding metal frame

There are multiple institutions that offer welding certifications, which evaluate the knowledge and skill level of those applying. A large number of Gateway AK employers not only expect a certificate or degree from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a renowned agency like the American Welding Society (AWS). Different certifications are offered based upon the kind of work that the welder does. Just some of the things that certification can attest to are the welder's ability to

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

As already mentioned, various cities, states or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those calling for licensing, many additionally require certification for different types of work. Certification is also a way to prove to employers that you are a highly skilled and knowledgeable welder. So similarly as with licensing, check the requirements for your local area and make certain that the welding trade school you select readies you for certification if needed.

Subjects to Ask Welder Vocational Programs

Gateway Alaska electrician welding metal electrical beam

Once you have decided on the credential you would like to obtain, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can start 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 essential to establish in advance what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have previously covered two important ones that many people look at first, which are location and tuition cost. As stated, although they are very important qualifications, they are not the only ones that need to be looked at. After all, the school you pick is going to provide the instruction that will be the foundation of your new career as a welder. So below are some additional factors you might need to consider before selecting a welder tech school.

Accreditation. It's extremely important that the welder trade school you pick is accredited by either a regional or a national organization. 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 single program the school offers, such as Welding Technology. So confirm that the program you pick is accredited, not just the school itself. Additionally, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, for example the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping ensure that you obtain an excellent education, the accreditation may also help in securing financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases not available in Gateway AK for non-accredited schools. Also, for those states or local governments that mandate licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited also.

Apprenticeship and Job Assistance Programs. Numerous welding diploma or degree programs are offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Other schools will help place you in an apprenticeship or a job after graduation. Find out if the schools you are reviewing help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. These schools should have partnerships with local unions and various metal working businesses to which they can refer their students. Older schools may have a larger network of graduates that they can utilize for referrals. 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 instructional program and complete it. It's important that the welding school you select has a high completion rate. A lower rate might indicate that the students who enrolled in the program were dissatisfied with the training, the instructors, or the facilities, and quit. The job placement rate is also an indication of the caliber of training. A higher job placement rate will not only verify that the school has a good reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of Gateway AK employer relationships to help students secure employment or apprenticeships upon graduation.

Modern Facilities and Equipment. After you have limited your choice of welding schools to two or three possibilities, you should consider visiting the campuses to evaluate their facilities. Make sure that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be trained on are up-to-date. In particular, the training equipment should be comparable to what you will be working with on the job. 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 Gateway AK welding professional if they can give you a few suggestions.

School Location. Even though we already briefly covered the significance of location, there are a few additional issues that we need to deal with. You should keep in mind that unless you can relocate, the welding school you choose must be within driving distance of your Gateway AK home. If you do decide to attend an out-of-state school, apart from relocation expenses there may be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly the case for welder diploma programs offered by community colleges. Also, if the school provides an apprenticeship or job placement program, more than 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 ultimately will want to work.

Smaller Classes. Personalized training is essential for a manual trade such as welding. It's possible to get overlooked in larger classes and not receive much one-on-one instruction. Find out what the typical 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 see just how much individual attention the students are getting. While there, talk with several of the students and get their evaluations. Similarly, talk with a couple of the teachers and ask what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they have earned.

Flexible Class Scheduling. Many people learn a new profession while still working at their present job. Check to see that the class schedules for the programs you are looking at are flexible enough to satisfy 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 alternatives. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the protocol is to make up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family responsibilities.

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Choose the Right Gateway Welding Program for Certification

Selecting the best welding training program will probably be the most critical decision you will make to begin your new career. As we have covered in this article, there are a number of things that you will need to assess and compare between the schools you are reviewing. It's a must that any welding training program that you are evaluating includes a lot of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be smaller in size and each student must have their own welding machine to train on. Classroom instruction needs to provide a real-world frame of reference, and the course of study should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Courses differ in length and the kind of credential provided, so you will have to ascertain what length of program and credential will best fulfill your needs. Each training program provides unique options for certification as well. Perhaps the best means to research your final list of schools is to go to each campus and talk with the teachers and students. Invest some time to monitor a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the school you choose is the ideal one for you. With the proper training, effort and dedication, the final result will be a new career as a professional welder in Gateway AK.

 

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