How to Find the Best Welder Training Program near Homer Alaska
Finding the right welding vocational school near Homer AK is an essential first step to starting your new career as a professional welder. But since there are a lot of schools to pick 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 reviewing the schools that are closest to their homes. Once they have identified those that are within commuting distance, they gravitate toward the least expensive one. Yes, location and tuition cost are crucial issues when reviewing welder trade 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 vocational school to become a welder, it's prudent to develop a list of qualifications that your selected school must have. But before we explore our due diligence checklist, let's cover a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welding Certificate and Degree Training Classes
There are multiple options available to obtain training as a welder in a trade or vocational school. You can earn 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 offered along with an apprenticeship program. Below are short descriptions of the most common welding programs offered in the Homer AK area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are usually made available by trade and technical schools and take about 1 year to finish. They are more hands-on training in nature, fashioned mainly to teach welding skills. They can furnish a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or supplemental skills for experienced welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take 2 years to finish and are usually 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.
Many municipalities and states do have licensing prerequisites for welders, so don't forget to check for your location of potential employment. As needed, the welder school you select should ready you for any licensing examinations that you will have to pass in addition to providing the suitable training to become a professional welder.
Welder Certification Choices
There are several organizations that offer welder certifications, which test the knowledge and skill level of those applying. Many Homer AK employers not only demand a degree or certificate from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a highly regarded organization such as the American Welding Society (AWS). A wide range of certifications are offered based upon the kind of work that the welder performs. Just some of the skills that certification can acknowledge are the welder's ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specific metal thicknesses
- Work with specific kinds of welds
- Perform in compliance with contract specifications
As earlier stated, various states, cities or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those requiring licensing, a number also require certification for various types of work. Certification is also a means to prove to employers that you are a highly skilled and experienced welder. So just as with licensing, look into the requirements for your location and confirm that the welder vocational school you select readies you for certification as needed.
Subjects to Ask Welding Technical Schools
Once you have decided on the credential you would like to attain, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can begin to compare schools. As you probably know, there are a large number of welding vocational and trade schools in the Homer AK area. That's why it's important to establish in advance what qualifications your selected school must have. We have already covered two important ones that most people consider first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As stated, although they are essential qualifications, they are not the only ones that should be considered. After all, the program you select is going to provide the instruction that will be the foundation of your new vocation as a welder. So below are more factors you might need to consider before choosing a welder tech school.
Accreditation. It's essential that the welder trade school you pick is accredited by either a regional or a national organization. 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 has, for instance Welding Technology. So make certain that the program you pick is accredited, not just the school itself. Also, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, like the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping ensure that you get an excellent education, the accreditation can also help in securing 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 local governments that require licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited also.
Job Assistance and Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of welder diploma or degree programs are provided combined with an apprenticeship program. Other schools will assist in placing you in a job or an apprenticeship after graduation. Find out if the schools you are reviewing help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. The schools must have partnerships with local unions and other 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 establish relationships within the Homer AK welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that begin an educational program and finish it. It's crucial that the welder program you choose has a higher completion rate. A reduced rate could signify that the students who enrolled in the program were dissatisfied with the instruction, the teachers, 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 confirm that the program has a good reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of Homer AK contacts to help students obtain employment or apprenticeships upon graduation.
Modern Facilities and Equipment. After you have decreased your choice of welding schools to 2 or 3 options, you should think out visiting the campuses to evaluate their facilities. Verify that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are modern. 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 currently in an apprenticeship program, consult with the master welder you are working under for guidance. Otherwise, ask a local Homer AK welding professional if they can give you a few pointers.
School Location. Although we already briefly discussed the importance of location, there are a couple of additional issues that we need to address. You should remember that unless you can move, the welding school you choose must be within driving distance of your Homer AK home. If you do opt to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides relocation costs there might be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially true for welding certificate programs offered by community colleges. Additionally, if the school provides a job placement or apprenticeship 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 wish to work.
Small Classes. Individualized instruction is important for a manual trade such as welding. It's possible to be overlooked in larger classes and not receive much personalized training. Ask what the usual class size is for the welder programs you are reviewing. Inquire if you can sit in on a couple of classes so that you can witness how much individual attention the students are receiving. While there, talk with several of the students and get their opinions. Similarly, talk to 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 employed at their present job. Check to see that the class schedules for the schools you are looking at are convenient enough to meet your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Homer AK, verify that the schools you are assessing provide those alternatives. If you can only enroll part-time, confirm that the school you pick offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the policy is to make up classes should you miss any because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Homer Welding Program for Certification
Choosing the best welding school will undoubtedly be the most critical decision you will make to begin your new career. As we have discussed in this article, there are many things that you will need to examine and compare between the schools you are looking at. It's a necessity that any welder school that you are examining includes a considerable amount of hands-on instruction. Classes should be smaller in size and every student should have their personal welding machine to train with. Classroom instruction should provide a real-world frame of reference, and the training program should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Training programs vary in length and the kind of credential offered, so you will need to ascertain what length of program and credential will best satisfy your needs. Every program provides different options for certification as well. Perhaps the best approach to research your final list of schools is to check out each campus and speak with the students and faculty. Take the time to monitor a few classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the program you select is the ideal one for you. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, the end result will be a new occupation as a professional welder in Homer AK.