How to Find the Right Welding Degree Program near Juneau Alaska
Selecting the ideal welding vocational school near Juneau AK is an important first step to launching your new career as a professional welder. But since there are so many schools to select from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more significantly, once you have fine tuned your choices, how do you select the best one? A number of people begin by reviewing the schools that are nearest to their homes. When they have located those that are within driving distance, they gravitate toward the least costly one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are necessary concerns when examining welding trade schools, but they are not the only ones. Other concerns include such things as accreditation, reputation and job placement rates. So before beginning your search for a trade school to become a welder, it's wise to create 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.
Welder Degree and Certificate Training Programs
There are a number of 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 offered in Welding Engineering or Welding Technology, but are more advanced degrees than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available along with an apprenticeship program. Following are short summaries of the most prevalent welding programs available in the Juneau AK area.
- Certificate and Diploma 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 develop welding skills. They can furnish a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or additional skills for working welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take two years to finish and are most often offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology offers a more extensive education than the diploma or certificate while still furnishing the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
Some municipalities and states do have licensing requirements for welders, so be sure to find out for your location of future employment. If needed, the welder school you pick should prepare you for any licensing examinations that you will have to take in addition to supplying the proper training to become a qualified welder.
Welder Certification Choices
There are multiple institutions that provide welder certifications, which test the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Numerous Juneau AK employers not only expect a degree or certificate from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a respected organization like the American Welding Society (AWS). Different certifications are offered based on the kind of work that the welder does. A few of the skills that certification can attest to are the welder's ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with certain metal thicknesses
- Work with certain types of welds
- Perform according to contract specifications
As earlier stated, many states, cities or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those mandating licensing, some additionally require certification for different kinds of work. Certification is also a means to demonstrate to employers that you are an extremely skilled and qualified welder. So just as with licensing, look into the requirements for your location and confirm that the welder vocational school you choose preps you for certification if needed.
Topics to Ask Welding Technical Programs
As soon as you have decided on the credential you want to earn, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can start to assess schools. As you can imagine, there are many welder trade and technical schools in the Juneau AK area. That's why it's necessary to establish up front what qualifications your selected school must have. We have previously covered two important ones that most people look at first, which are location and tuition cost. As mentioned, although they are very important qualifiers, they are not the only ones that must be considered. After all, the school you pick is going to furnish the instruction that will be the foundation of your new career as a welder. So below are more factors you may need to evaluate before choosing a welding technical school.
Accreditation. It's essential that the welding vocational school you choose is accredited by either a national or a regional agency. There are 2 basic types of accreditation. The school may earn Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a single program the school offers, for instance Welding Technology. So verify 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 agency, such as the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping make sure that you receive an excellent education, the accreditation might also help in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases not offered in Juneau AK for non-accredited schools. Also, for those states or municipalities that mandate licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited as well.
Apprenticeship and Job Placement Programs. Many welding degree or certificate programs are offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Other schools will help place you in a job or an apprenticeship upon graduation. Find out if the schools you are considering assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. The schools must have partnerships with local unions and various metal working businesses to which they can refer their students. More established 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 Juneau AK welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that begin an academic program and complete it. It's crucial that the welder program you choose has a high completion rate. A lower rate may mean that the students who were in the program were dissatisfied with the instruction, the instructors, or the facilities, and quit. The job placement rate is also a good indicator of the quality of training. A high job placement rate will not only affirm that the school has a good reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of Juneau AK contacts to help students obtain apprenticeships or employment upon graduation.
Modern Equipment and Facilities. Once you have narrowed down your choice of welding schools to two or three options, you should think out visiting the campuses to look over their facilities. Confirm that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be taught on are up-to-date. Specifically, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be working with in the field. 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 Juneau AK welding professional if they can give you a few tips.
School Location. Even though we already briefly talked about the significance of location, there are a couple of additional issues that we should cover. You should bear in mind that unless you are able to relocate, the welder program you select needs to be within driving distance of your Juneau AK home. If you do choose to attend an out-of-state school, besides moving expenses there might be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially the case for welding certificate programs offered by community colleges. Also, 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 a region or state where you ultimately will desire to work.
Smaller Classes. Individualized instruction is important for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's possible to get overlooked in larger classes and not get much personalized training. Find out what the typical class size is for the welder schools you are looking at. Inquire if you can attend a few classes so that you can witness just how much personal attention the students are receiving. While there, speak with some of the students and get their evaluations. Also, speak with some of the instructors and find out what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they hold.
Flexible Class Scheduling. Lots of folks learn a new profession while still working at their present job. Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Juneau AK, make certain that the schools you are assessing offer those alternatives. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you choose offers part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the policy is to make up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family responsibilities.
Choose the Right Juneau Welding School for Certification
Choosing the right welder school will probably be the most critical decision you will make to begin your new trade. As we have discussed in this article, there are many things that you will need to evaluate and compare among the schools you are reviewing. It's a necessity that any welder training that you are considering includes a good deal of hands-on instruction. Classes should be small in size and each student must have their personal welding machine to train on. Classroom instruction needs to provide a real-world context, and the course of study should be current and conform with industry standards. Training programs vary in duration and the kind of credential offered, so you will need to decide what length of program and degree or certificate will best fulfill your needs. Every program offers unique options for certification as well. Perhaps 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 monitor some classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the program you select is the right one for you. With the proper training, hard work and dedication, the final result will be a new career as a professional welder in Juneau AK.