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How to Pick the Best Welding Degree Program near Homer Alaska

Homer Alaska construction welder on the jobLocating the right welder technical school near Homer AK is an essential first step to launching your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are so many schools to select from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more importantly, once you have fine tuned your choices, how do you pick the best one? Most people start by reviewing the schools that are nearest to their homes. Once they have found those that are within driving distance, they are drawn toward the least expensive one. Yes, location and tuition cost are important considerations when examining welder technical schools, but they are not the only ones. Other concerns include such things as reputation, accreditation 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 selected 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 Training Classes

Homer Alaska welder welding in fabrication shop

There are multiple options available to get training as a welder in a trade or technical 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 in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Below are brief descriptions of the most prevalent welding programs offered in the Homer AK area.

  • Diploma and Certificate Programs are normally offered by trade and technical schools and take about a year to complete. They are more hands-on training in scope, fashioned 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 2 years to complete and are most often offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology furnishes a more extensive education than the certificate or diploma while still supplying the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.

A number of states and municipalities do have licensing requirements for welders, therefore make sure to find out for your location of future employment. As needed, the welder school you select should prep you for any licensing examinations that you will need to take in addition to furnishing the proper training to become a qualified welder.

Welder Certification Choices

Homer Alaska welder welding metal table

There are a number of institutions that offer welding certifications, which evaluate the knowledge and skill level of those applying. Many Homer AK employers not only require a certificate or degree from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a respected organization such as the American Welding Society (AWS). Different certifications are offered 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

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

As formerly stated, various states, cities or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those requiring licensing, many also require certification for various kinds of work. Certification is also a means to prove to employers that you are an exceptionally skilled and knowledgeable welder. So similarly as with licensing, check the requirements for your local area and make sure that the welding trade school you decide on readies you for certification as needed.

Topics to Ask Welding Trade Programs

Homer Alaska electrician welding electrical pole

Once you have decided on the credential you want to obtain, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can start to assess schools. As you probably know, there are many welding trade and vocational schools in the Homer AK area. That's why it's important to establish in advance what qualifications your chosen school must have. We have previously discussed 2 significant ones that many people look at first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As mentioned, although they are very important qualifications, they are not the only ones that should be looked at. After all, the school you select is going to furnish the training that will be the foundation of your new career as a welder. So following are more factors you might need to consider before selecting a welder technical school.

Accreditation. It's very important that the welding trade school you decide on is accredited by either a national or a regional organization. There are 2 basic kinds of accreditation. The school may earn Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on an individual program the school offers, for instance Welding Technology. So make sure that the program you pick is accredited, not just the school alone. 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). In addition to helping ensure that you obtain an excellent education, the accreditation might also assist in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable 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 as well.

Apprenticeship and Job Placement 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 looking at assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. These schools should have relationships with local unions and other metal working businesses to which they can place their students. Older schools may have a more substantial network of graduates that they can utilize for referrals. These programs can help students find employment and develop associations within the Homer 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 lower rate might signify 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 an indication of the caliber of training. A higher job placement rate will not only verify that the program has a good reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of Homer AK employer relationships to assist students secure employment or apprenticeships upon graduation.

Up-to-date Facilities and Equipment. Once you have limited your choice of welder programs to two or three options, you should consider visiting the campuses to inspect their facilities. Make sure that both the facilities and the equipment 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 in the field. If you are uncertain what to look for, and are already in an apprenticeship program, ask the master welder you are working under for guidance. Otherwise, ask a local Homer AK welding professional if they can give you some suggestions.

School Location. Although we already briefly discussed the relevance of location, there are a couple of additional issues that we need to deal with. You should bear in mind that unless you can move, the welding program you pick needs to be within commuting distance of your Homer AK home. If you do decide to attend an out-of-state school, apart from relocation costs 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 offers a job placement or apprenticeship program, most likely their placements are within the school's local community. So the location of the school should be in an area or state where you ultimately will wish to work.

Smaller Classes. Personalized instruction is essential for a manual trade such as welding. It's possible to be overlooked in bigger classes and not get much one-on-one instruction. Ask what the typical class size is for the welder schools you are considering. Inquire if you can sit in on a few classes so that you can observe how much individual attention the students are receiving. While there, talk with a few of the students and get their evaluations. Also, talk to some of the trainers and find out what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they hold.

Flexible Class Schedules. Many people learn a new profession while still employed at their present job. Confirm that the class schedules for the schools you are considering are convenient enough to satisfy your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Homer AK, confirm that the schools you are considering offer those options. If you can only attend part-time, verify that the school you choose offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the policy is to make up classes if you you miss any due to work, illness or family emergencies.

Find out More About Homer Welding Training

Find the Right Homer Welding Training for Certification

Choosing the ideal welder training program will probably be the most critical decision you will make to start your new profession. As we have covered in this article, there are several factors that you will need to examine and compare among the programs you are reviewing. It's a prerequisite that any welder school that you are considering includes a considerable amount of hands-on training. Classes need to be small in size and each student should have their own welding machine to train with. Classroom teaching should provide a real-world context, and the curriculum should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Courses vary in duration and the kind of credential provided, so you will need to determine what length of program and credential will best satisfy your needs. Each program offers different possibilities for certification as well. Probably the best way to research your short list of schools is to check out each campus and talk with the students and instructors. Take the time to attend some classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the school you decide on is the ideal one for you. With the proper training, effort and commitment, the end result will be a new occupation as a professional welder in Homer AK.

 

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