How to Select the Right Welding Vocational School near Kenai Alaska
Finding the ideal welding technical school near Kenai AK is an essential first step to beginning 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 notably, once you have fine tuned your alternatives, how do you pick the best one? Most people start by reviewing the schools that are nearest to their homes. Once they have identified those that are within commuting distance, they are drawn toward the least costly one. Yes, location and tuition cost are necessary considerations when examining welder 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 develop 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 Certificate and Degree Training Classes
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 Engineering or Welding Technology, but are more advanced courses than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available combined with an apprenticeship program. Following are brief explanations of the most prevalent welding programs offered in the Kenai AK area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are normally offered by technical and trade schools and take about a year to complete. They are more hands-on training in nature, created mainly to teach welding skills. They can furnish a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or specialized skills for working welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take 2 years to finish 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 furnishing the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
A number of states and municipalities do have licensing requirements for welders, therefore don't forget to check for your location of potential employment. If required, the welder school you choose should ready you for any licensing examinations that you will have to pass in addition to supplying the suitable training to become a professional welder.
Welder Certification Alternatives
There are multiple organizations that offer welder certifications, which evaluate the knowledge and skill level of those applying. Many Kenai AK employers not only expect a certificate or degree from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a highly regarded organization such as the American Welding Society (AWS). Different certifications are offered dependent on the type of work that the welder performs. Just some of the things that certification can attest to are the welder's ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specific metal thicknesses
- Work with various kinds of welds
- Perform in compliance with contract specifications
As formerly stated, various cities, states or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those calling for licensing, a number additionally require certification for various kinds of work. Certification is also a way to prove to employers that you are an exceptionally skilled and knowledgeable welder. So just as with licensing, check the requirements for your location and make certain that the welding tech school you select prepares you for certification as needed.
Points to Ask Welder Vocational Programs
Once you have chosen the credential you want to attain, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can start to evaluate schools. As you probably know, there are numerous welder trade and technical schools in the Kenai AK area. That's why it's necessary to establish in advance what qualifications your selected school must have. We have previously covered two significant ones that many people consider first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As stated, although they are very important qualifiers, they are not the only ones that should be looked at. After all, the school you choose is going to furnish the training that will be the foundation of your new profession as a welder. So below are some additional factors you might need to evaluate before picking a welding technical school.
Accreditation. It's very important that the welder trade school you decide on is accredited by either a national or a regional organization. There are two basic types of accreditation. The school may receive Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a specific program the school has, such as Welding Technology. So confirm that the program you choose is accredited, not just the school itself. 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 receive a superior education, the accreditation might also assist in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently not available in Kenai AK for non-accredited schools. Finally, 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. A large number of welder certificate or degree programs are provided in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Other schools will assist in placing you in an apprenticeship or a job upon graduation. Ask if the schools you are considering assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. These schools should have associations with local unions and various metal working businesses to which they can place their students. Older schools may have a more substantial network of graduates that they can rely upon for referrals. These programs can assist students in finding employment and develop associations within the Kenai AK welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that enroll in an educational program and complete it. It's important that the welding program you pick has a higher completion rate. A reduced rate may signify that the students who enrolled in the program were unhappy with the instruction, the instructors, or the facilities, and quit. 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 school has a good reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of Kenai AK contacts to assist students secure employment or apprenticeships after graduation.
Modern Facilities and Equipment. After you have narrowed down your choice of welder schools to two or three possibilities, you should think out going to the campuses to evaluate their facilities. Confirm that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be instructed on are modern. 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. Otherwise, ask a local Kenai AK welding contractor if they can give you some pointers.
School Location. Although we already briefly talked about the importance of location, there are a couple of additional points that we should cover. You should bear in mind that unless you are able to relocate, the welding program you choose needs to be within commuting distance of your Kenai AK home. If you do decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there may be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly true for welder certificate programs offered by community colleges. Also, if the school offers a job placement or apprenticeship program, more than likely their placements are within the school's regional community. So the location of the school needs to be in an area or state where you ultimately will wish to work.
Small Classes. Personalized instruction is essential for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's possible to be lost in bigger classes and not receive much one-on-one training. Find out what the average class size is for the welder schools you are reviewing. Inquire if you can attend a few classes so that you can see just how much personal attention the students are receiving. While there, speak with a few of the students and get their feedback. Similarly, talk to a few of the instructors and find out what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they hold.
Flexible Class Scheduling. Some people learn a new profession while still employed at their present job. Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are considering are flexible enough to satisfy your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Kenai AK, verify that the schools you are looking at offer those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you pick offers part-time enrollment. Also, check to see what the protocol is to make up classes if you you miss any because of work, sickness or family emergencies.
Choose the Right Kenai Welding Program for Certification
Selecting the ideal welding school will probably be the most critical decision you will make to launch your new career. As we have addressed in this article, there are many things that you will need to evaluate and compare among the programs you are looking at. It's a necessity that any welding training that you are reviewing includes a good deal of hands-on training. Classes should be smaller in size and every student should have their personal welding machine to train on. Classroom instruction needs to provide a real-world context, and the curriculum should be current and in-line with industry standards. Courses differ in duration and the type of credential provided, so you will have to ascertain what length of program and credential will best serve your needs. Each training program provides different options for certification also. Perhaps the best means to research your short list of schools is to go to each campus and talk with the teachers and students. Take the time to monitor some classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the school you choose is the best one for you. With the right training, hard work and dedication, the end result will be a new occupation as a professional welder in Kenai AK.