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How to Choose the Best Welding Trade School near Homer Alaska

Homer Alaska construction welder at work siteSelecting the right welding vocational school near Homer AK is an important first step to beginning 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 significantly, once you have fine tuned your choices, how do you pick the best one? A number of prospective students start by checking out the schools that are nearest to their homes. When they have found those that are within commuting distance, they are drawn toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and tuition cost are crucial concerns when examining 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 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 Programs

Homer Alaska welder working in metal shop

There are multiple alternatives available to receive 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 offered in Welding Technology or Welding Engineering, but are more advanced courses than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available combined with an apprenticeship program. Below are short explanations of the most prevalent welding programs available in the Homer AK area.

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

Some municipalities and states do have licensing prerequisites for welders, so make sure to find out for your location of potential employment. As needed, the welding school you select should prepare you for any licensing exams that you will need to pass in addition to providing the appropriate training to become a professional welder.

Welder Certification Choices

Homer Alaska welder welding metal table

There are various organizations that offer welder certifications, which assess the skill level and knowledge of those applying. A large number of Homer AK employers not only demand a certificate or degree from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a renowned agency like the American Welding Society (AWS). A wide range of certifications are available based upon the kind of work that the welder performs. Some of the skills that certification can attest to are the welder's ability to

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

As already mentioned, many states, cities or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those mandating licensing, some additionally require certification for various 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, check the requirements for your location and verify that the welder trade school you choose readies you for certification if needed.

Questions to Ask Welder Trade Programs

Homer Alaska electrician welding metal electrical beam

Once you have chosen the credential you want to attain, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can begin to compare schools. As you can imagine, there are numerous welder trade and vocational schools in the Homer AK area. That's why it's necessary to determine up front what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have already covered two important ones that most people look at first, which are location and tuition cost. As mentioned, although they are very important qualifications, they are not the only ones that need to be looked at. After all, the program you pick is going to furnish the training that will be the foundation of your new career as a welder. So following are some additional factors you may want to evaluate before selecting a welder technical school.

Accreditation. It's extremely important that the welding technical school you select is accredited by either a national or a regional organization. There are 2 standard types of accreditation. The school may earn 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 select is accredited, not just the school alone. Also, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, such as the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping ensure that you receive a quality education, the accreditation may also help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not offered in Homer AK for schools that are not accredited. Also, for those states or local governments that mandate licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited as well.

Job Assistance and Apprenticeship Programs. Many welder diploma or degree programs are provided in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Various other schools will help place you in an apprenticeship or a job after graduation. Ask if the schools you are looking at assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. The schools should have associations with local unions and various metal working businesses to which they can refer their students. Older schools may have a more substantial network of graduates that they can rely upon for placements. These programs can assist students in finding employment and establish relationships within the Homer AK welding community.

Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that enroll in an academic program and finish it. It's important that the welder program you select has a higher completion rate. A lower rate could mean that the students who joined the program were unhappy with the training, the instructors, or the facilities, and dropped out. The job placement rate is also a good indicator 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 also that it has the network of Homer AK contacts to help students obtain apprenticeships or employment after graduation.

Up-to-date Facilities and Equipment. After you have decreased your choice of welder programs to two or three possibilities, you should think out visiting the campuses to evaluate their facilities. Verify that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be taught on are up-to-date. In particular, the training equipment should be comparable to what you will be using in the field. If you are unsure what to look for, and are already in an apprenticeship program, ask the master welder you are working under for guidance. If not, ask a local Homer AK welding contractor if they can give you some pointers.

School Location. Although we already briefly discussed the significance of location, there are a couple of additional issues that we should deal with. You should bear in mind that unless you can relocate, the welder program you select needs to be within commuting distance of your Homer AK home. If you do opt to enroll in an out-of-state school, apart from moving costs there could be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly the case for welding diploma programs offered by community colleges. Also, if the school provides an apprenticeship or job placement program, most 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 subsequently will want to work.

Small Classes. One-on-one training is essential for a manual trade such as welding. It's easy to be lost in bigger classes and not receive much individualized training. Ask what the average class size is for the welding programs you are looking at. Ask if you can attend a few classes so that you can observe how much personal attention the students are receiving. While there, talk with some of the students and get their opinions. Also, chat with a few of the trainers and find out what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they have earned.

Convenient Class Schedules. Some people learn a new trade while still working 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, make sure that the schools you are reviewing offer those choices. If you can only attend part-time, confirm that the school you decide on offers part-time enrollment. Also, check to see what the protocol is to make up classes if you you miss any because of illness, work or family responsibilities.

Find out More About Homer Welding Training Programs

Find the Best Homer Welding Training for Certification

Picking the right welder school will undoubtedly be the most critical decision you will make to launch your new trade. As we have discussed in this article, there are several factors that you will need to examine and compare among the schools you are reviewing. It's a prerequisite that any welding school that you are reviewing includes a considerable amount of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be smaller in size and every student should have their own welding machine to train on. Classroom instruction should provide a real-world context, and the curriculum should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Courses differ in length and the type of credential provided, so you will need to ascertain what length of program and certificate or degree will best satisfy your needs. Every program provides unique options for certification also. Perhaps The ideal approach to research your final list of schools is to check out each campus and speak with the teachers and students. Take the time to attend a few classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the program you select is the best one for you. With the proper training, hard work and dedication, the final result will be a new occupation as a professional welder in Homer AK.

 

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