How to Select the Right Welding Technical School near Juneau Alaska
Selecting the ideal welder trade school near Juneau AK is an important first step to starting your new career as a professional welder. But since there are numerous schools to select from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more importantly, once you have fine tuned your options, how do you select the right one? Many prospective students begin by looking at the schools that are closest to their residences. Once they have identified those that are within driving distance, they gravitate toward the least expensive one. Yes, location and tuition cost are necessary issues when evaluating welder trade schools, but they are not the only ones. Other factors include such things as reputation, accreditation and job placement rates. So before starting your search for a vocational school to become a welder, it's wise to develop a list of qualifications that your chosen school must have. But before we delve into our due diligence checklist, let's talk a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welding Certificate and Degree Training Courses
There are several options available to receive training as a welder in a trade or vocational school. You can earn a a certificate, a diploma or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are offered in Welding Technology or Welding Engineering, but are more advanced degrees than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also offered along with an apprenticeship program. Following are short summaries of the most prevalent welding programs offered in the Juneau AK area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are generally offered by trade and technical schools and require about a year to complete. 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 complete and are most often offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology provides a more extensive education than the certificate or diploma while still supplying the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
Some municipalities and states do have licensing prerequisites for welders, therefore don't forget to check for your location of future employment. As required, the welding school you select should prepare you for any licensing exams that you will have to pass in addition to furnishing the suitable training to become a professional welder.
Welding Certification Options
There are a number of organizations that provide welding certifications, which test the knowledge and skill level of those applying. Numerous Juneau AK employers not only require a certificate or degree from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a respected organization like the American Welding Society (AWS). A wide range of certifications are offered based on the kind of work that the welder does. Some of the things that certification can acknowledge are the welder's ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specified metal thicknesses
- Work with specific kinds of welds
- Operate according to contract specifications
As earlier mentioned, many cities, states or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those requiring licensing, many also require certification for various types of work. Certification is also a means to prove to employers that you are an extremely skilled and experienced welder. So just as with licensing, look into the requirements for your local area and make sure that the welding trade school you decide on readies you for certification as needed.
Points to Ask Welding Vocational Schools
As soon as you have chosen the credential you would like to earn, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can start to assess schools. As you can imagine, there are many welding trade and vocational schools in the Juneau AK area. That's why it's essential to determine up front what qualifications your selected school must have. We have previously discussed two important ones that most people look at first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As stated, although they are essential qualifiers, they are not the only ones that should be looked at. After all, the school you decide on is going to furnish the training that will be the foundation of your new vocation as a welder. So following are more factors you may want to consider before selecting a welder tech school.
Accreditation. It's essential that the welder trade school you choose is accredited by either a regional or a national agency. There are 2 standard types of accreditation. The school may receive Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a single program the school has, for example 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 recognized accrediting agency, such as the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping make sure that you obtain a superior education, the accreditation can also help in getting financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable in Juneau AK for schools that are not accredited. Finally, for those states or local governments that mandate licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited also.
Job Assistance and Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous welding certificate or degree programs are offered combined with an apprenticeship program. Other schools will assist in placing you in a job or an apprenticeship upon graduation. Find out if the schools you are reviewing help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. These schools must have associations with local unions and various metal working businesses to which they can place their students. Older schools may have a larger network of graduates that they can rely upon for referrals. These programs can assist students in finding employment and establish associations within the Juneau AK welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that start an instructional program and complete it. It's important that the welding school you choose has a higher completion rate. A low rate may mean that the students who were 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 high job placement rate will not only verify that the school has a good reputation within the trade, but additionally that it has the network of Juneau AK employer relationships to help students secure employment or apprenticeships upon graduation.
Modern Equipment and Facilities. Once you have limited your selection of welding programs to two or three possibilities, you should think out visiting the campuses to evaluate their facilities. Make sure that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are modern. In particular, the training equipment should be comparable to what you will be using in the field. If you are not sure what to look for, and are already in an apprenticeship program, consult with the master welder you are working under for guidance. If not, ask a local Juneau AK welding contractor if they can give you a few suggestions.
School Location. Although we already briefly discussed the relevance of location, there are a few additional issues that we need to address. You should bear in mind that unless you have the ability to move, the welding program you select must be within commuting distance of your Juneau AK home. If you do opt to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation expenses there may be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially true for welding degree programs offered by community colleges. Additionally, if the school provides an apprenticeship or job placement program, more than likely their placements are within the school's regional community. So the location of the school needs to be in a region or state where you ultimately will desire to work.
Smaller Classes. Personalized training is important for a manual trade such as welding. It's easy to be lost in larger classes and not obtain much one-on-one instruction. Find out what the usual class size is for the welder programs you are considering. Ask if you can attend a few classes so that you can witness how much personal attention the students are receiving. While there, speak with a few of the students and get their feedback. Also, speak with some of the trainers and ask what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they have earned.
Flexible Class Scheduling. Some people learn a new trade while still employed at their current job. Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are looking at are flexible enough to satisfy your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Juneau AK, verify that the schools you are considering offer those options. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, verify that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, check to see what the policy is to make up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family circumstances.
Choose the Best Juneau Welding Course for Certification
Selecting the ideal 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 several factors that you will need to assess and compare among the programs you are looking at. It's a must that any welding school that you are examining includes a considerable amount of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be smaller in size and each student should have their personal welding machine to train on. Classroom education should provide a real-world context, and the curriculum should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Training programs differ in duration and the type of credential offered, so you will have to determine what length of program and credential will best satisfy your needs. Every training program provides unique options for certification as well. Probably The ideal way to research your short list of schools is to go to each campus and speak with the faculty and students. Invest some time to sit in on some classes. Inspect 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, effort and commitment, the end result will be a new trade as a professional welder in Juneau AK.