How to Pick the Right Welding Certificate Program near Juneau Alaska
Choosing the ideal welder school near Juneau AK is an essential first step to beginning your new career as a professional welder. But since there are numerous schools to choose from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more importantly, once you have fine tuned your choices, how do you select the best one? Most people start by reviewing the schools that are closest to their homes. When they have found those that are within driving distance, they are drawn toward the least costly one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are important concerns when examining welding 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 vocational school to become a welder, it's prudent to create 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 Degree and Certificate Training
There are multiple options to obtain 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 available in Welding Engineering or Welding Technology, but are more advanced courses than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also offered combined with an apprenticeship program. Following are brief descriptions of the most common welding programs offered in the Juneau AK area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are generally offered by trade and technical schools and take about 1 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 supplemental skills for working welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take two years to complete and are most often offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology provides a more well-rounded 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, so don't forget to check for your location of potential employment. If required, the welding school you choose should prep you for any licensing exams that you will need to pass in addition to furnishing the appropriate training to become a qualified welder.
Welder Certification Alternatives
There are several institutions that provide welding certifications, which assess the knowledge and skill level of those applying. Many Juneau AK employers not only demand a certificate or degree from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a respected agency like the American Welding Society (AWS). Different certifications are offered based on the type of work that the welder performs. A few of the things that certification can attest to are the welder's ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specific metal thicknesses
- Work with specific types of welds
- Operate in compliance with contract specifications
As already mentioned, many states, cities or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those requiring licensing, a number additionally require certification for different types of work. Certification is also a way to prove to employers that you are an extremely skilled and knowledgeable welder. So just as with licensing, check the requirements for your location and confirm that the welding tech school you select preps you for certification if needed.
What to Ask Welder Vocational Programs
When you have decided on the credential you would like to obtain, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can start to compare schools. As you probably know, there are numerous welding trade and technical schools in the Juneau AK area. That's why it's necessary to determine in advance what qualifications your chosen school must have. We have previously discussed two important ones that many 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 must be considered. After all, the program you pick is going to provide the instruction that will be the foundation of your new vocation as a welder. So following are more factors you may want to consider before picking a welder tech school.
Accreditation. It's extremely important that the welding vocational school you decide on is accredited by either a national or a regional agency. There are 2 standard types of accreditation. The school may attain Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a single program the school has, for instance Welding Technology. So verify that the program you select is accredited, not just the school alone. Additionally, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, like the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping make sure that you obtain a superior education, the accreditation might also help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are often unavailable in Juneau 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 Placement and Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of welding degree or certificate programs are offered combined with an apprenticeship program. Various other schools will assist in placing 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 must have partnerships with local unions and other metal working businesses to which they can refer their students. More established schools may have a more substantial network of graduates that they can utilize for placements. These programs can help students find 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 enroll in an educational program and finish it. It's crucial that the welder school you choose has a high completion rate. A low rate could signify that the students who joined 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 verify that the school has an excellent reputation within the trade, but additionally that it has the network of Juneau AK contacts to assist students obtain apprenticeships or employment after graduation.
Modern Equipment and Facilities. Once you have decreased your choice of welding programs to 2 or 3 options, you should consider going to the campuses to inspect their facilities. Make sure that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are modern. Specifically, the training equipment should be comparable to what you will be working with on the job. If you are not sure 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 Juneau AK welding contractor if they can give you a few suggestions.
School Location. Even though we already briefly talked about the relevance of location, there are a few additional points that we should deal with. You should keep in mind that unless you can relocate, the welder school you choose must be within driving distance of your Juneau AK home. If you do opt to enroll in an out-of-state school, apart from relocation costs there may be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially true for welder certificate programs offered by community colleges. Furthermore, if the school offers a job placement or apprenticeship program, often 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 subsequently will wish to work.
Smaller Classes. One-on-one instruction is important for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's possible to get overlooked in bigger classes and not obtain much individualized training. Ask what the usual class size is for the welder programs you are looking at. Ask if you can sit in on some classes so that you can witness just how much personal attention the students are receiving. While there, talk with several of the students and get their feedback. Also, talk to a few of the trainers and find out what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they have earned.
Flexible Class Schedules. Lots of folks learn a new trade while still employed at their current job. Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are looking at are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Juneau AK, confirm that the schools you are assessing provide those choices. If you can only enroll part-time, confirm that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the protocol is to make up classes if you you miss any because of work, sickness or family responsibilities.
Choose the Right Juneau Welding Program for Certification
Picking the right welding 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 a number of things that you will need to assess and compare between the schools you are considering. It's a necessity that any welding training that you are considering includes a lot of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be small in size and every student should have their personal welding machine to train on. Classroom education needs to provide a real-world perspective, and the course of study should be current and in-line with industry standards. Courses differ in length and the kind of credential provided, so you will have to ascertain what length of program and certificate or degree will best satisfy your needs. Every training program provides different possibilities for certification as well. Probably the best way to research your final list of schools is to go to each campus and talk with the students and faculty. Take the time to sit in on some classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the school you select is the ideal one for you. With the proper training, effort and commitment, the end outcome will be a new occupation as a professional welder in Juneau AK.