How to Pick the Right Welder Certification Program near Homer Alaska
Selecting the ideal welding trade school near Homer 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 determine which ones to consider? And more significantly, once you have fine tuned your options, how do you pick the right one? Most people begin by checking out the schools that are closest to their homes. When they have identified those that are within commuting distance, they are drawn toward the least expensive one. Yes, location and tuition cost are necessary considerations when examining welding technical schools, but they are not the only ones. Other concerns include such things as reputation, accreditation and job placement rates. So before beginning your search for a vocational school to become a welder, it's wise to establish a list of qualifications that your chosen school must have. But before we explore our due diligence checklist, let's talk a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welding Degree and Certificate Programs
There are a number of alternatives available to obtain training as a welder in a trade or vocational 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 degrees than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Below are brief explanations of the most common welding programs offered in the Homer AK area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are generally made available by trade and technical schools and take about a year to complete. They are more hands-on training in nature, created primarily to teach welding skills. They can provide a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or supplemental 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 provides a more well-rounded education than the diploma or certificate while still providing the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
A number of municipalities and states do have licensing prerequisites for welders, so be sure to check for your location of future employment. If needed, the welder school you select should prepare you for any licensing exams that you will have to take in addition to providing the proper training to become a qualified welder.
Welder Certification Alternatives
There are multiple organizations that offer welder certifications, which test the knowledge and skill level of those applying. A large number of Homer AK employers not only expect a certificate or degree from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a highly regarded organization like the American Welding Society (AWS). Different certifications are available based on the type of work that the welder does. Just some of the things that certification can attest to are the welder's ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with certain metal thicknesses
- Work with specific kinds of welds
- Operate according to contract specifications
As previously mentioned, various states, cities or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those mandating licensing, many also require certification for various kinds of work. Certification is also a way to demonstrate to employers that you are an extremely skilled and qualified welder. So similarly as with licensing, check the requirements for your location and make sure that the welder technical school you decide on readies you for certification if needed.
Points to Ask Welding Technical Programs
When you have decided on the credential you would like to obtain, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can start to compare schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are numerous welding trade and technical schools in the Homer AK area. That's why it's necessary to determine in advance what qualifications your chosen school must have. We have already discussed a couple of significant ones that many people consider first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As stated, although they are very important 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 instruction that will be the foundation of your new vocation as a welder. So following are some additional factors you might need to consider before selecting a welder tech school.
Accreditation. It's very important that the welding vocational school you pick is accredited by either a national or a regional agency. There are two basic kinds of accreditation. The school may attain Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on an individual program the school offers, such as Welding Technology. So verify 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). Besides helping ensure that you receive a superior education, the accreditation can also assist in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases not offered in Homer AK for schools that are not accredited. Also, for those states or municipalities that require licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited also.
Job Placement and Apprenticeship Programs. Many welder certificate or degree programs are provided in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Some other schools will assist in placing you in a job or an apprenticeship after graduation. Ask if the schools you are considering assist 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 refer their students. Older schools may have a larger network of graduates that they can rely upon for placements. These programs can help students find employment and establish associations within the Homer AK welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that begin an instructional program and finish it. It's important that the welder program you pick has a higher completion rate. A lower rate might signify that the students who enrolled in the program were unhappy with the instruction, the teachers, 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 Homer AK contacts to help students secure apprenticeships or employment after graduation.
Up-to-date Equipment and Facilities. Once you have narrowed down your choice of welder schools to two or three possibilities, you should think out visiting the campuses to inspect their facilities. Verify 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 using 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. Otherwise, ask a local Homer AK welding contractor if they can give you some suggestions.
School Location. Even though we already briefly talked about the importance of location, there are a couple of additional points that we need to address. You should keep in mind that unless you have the ability to move, the welder school you choose must be within commuting distance of your Homer AK home. If you do choose to enroll in an out-of-state school, apart from moving costs there might be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially true for welding diploma programs offered by community colleges. Furthermore, if the school offers an apprenticeship or job placement program, often their placements are within the school's local community. So the location of the school needs to be in an area or state where you subsequently will desire to work.
Small Classes. Individualized training is essential for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's possible to be lost in bigger classes and not receive much personalized instruction. Find out what the average 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 witness just how much individual attention the students are getting. While there, speak with several of the students and get their evaluations. Similarly, chat with a few of the instructors and ask what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they have earned.
Flexible Class Scheduling. Many people learn a new profession while still employed at their present job. Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are looking at are convenient enough to meet your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Homer AK, verify that the schools you are looking at provide those choices. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, check to see what the protocol is to make up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family circumstances.
Find the Right Homer Welding Training for Certification
Picking the right welder training program will probably be the most critical decision you will make to launch your new profession. As we have discussed in this article, there are a number of things that you will need to examine and compare between the programs you are considering. It's a prerequisite that any welding training that you are examining includes a lot of hands-on instruction. Classes should be small in size and every student should have their own welding machine to train on. Classroom education needs to offer a real-world frame of reference, and the training program should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Courses vary in length and the kind of credential provided, so you will need to ascertain what length of program and credential will best serve your needs. Each program offers different possibilities for certification also. Probably the best approach to research your short list of schools is to check out each campus and speak with the students and faculty. Invest some time to sit in on some classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the program you decide on is the ideal one for you. With the right training, effort and dedication, the final outcome will be a new occupation as a professional welder in Homer AK.