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How to Select the Right Welder Trade School near Kenai Alaska

Kenai Alaska construction welder on the jobFinding the right welder trade school near Kenai AK is an important first step to launching your new career as a professional welder. But since there are a lot of schools to choose from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more importantly, once you have narrowed down your options, how do you select the best one? Many prospective students start by checking out the schools that are nearest to their residences. When they have located those that are within driving distance, they are drawn toward the least costly one. Yes, location and tuition cost are important issues when evaluating welder vocational schools, but they are not the only ones. Other considerations include such things as accreditation, reputation and job placement rates. So before initiating your search for a vocational school to become a welder, it's wise to establish a list of qualifications that your chosen school must have. But before we delve into our due diligence checklist, let's cover a little bit about how to become a welder.

Welder Certificate and Degree Training Courses

Kenai Alaska welder working in fabrication shop

There are a number of options available to receive training as a welder in a technical or trade school. You can earn a a certificate, a diploma or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are available 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 brief summaries of the most prevalent welding programs available in the Kenai AK area.

  • Diploma and Certificate Programs are usually made available by trade and technical schools and take about one year to complete. They are more hands-on training in scope, fashioned largely to develop welding skills. They can furnish 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 extensive education than the diploma or certificate while still supplying the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.

Many states and municipalities do have licensing prerequisites for welders, so make sure to find out for your location of future employment. As required, the welder school you select should ready you for any licensing exams that you will have to pass in addition to providing the appropriate training to become a qualified welder.

Welding Certification Options

Kenai Alaska welder welding metal table

There are multiple organizations that provide welder certifications, which evaluate the skill level and knowledge of those applying. A large number of Kenai AK employers not only require a certificate or degree from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a renowned organization such as the American Welding Society (AWS). A variety of certifications are offered based upon the type 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 specified metal thicknesses
  • Work with specific kinds of welds
  • Operate in compliance with contract specifications

As already mentioned, some states, cities or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those requiring licensing, many also require certification for different types 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, look into the requirements for your local area and make sure that the welding tech school you select prepares you for certification as needed.

Subjects to Ask Welder Vocational Programs

Kenai Alaska welder welding electrical pole

After you have chosen the credential you would like to earn, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can begin to assess schools. As you can imagine, there are a large number of welding trade and vocational schools in the Kenai AK area. That's why it's essential to decide up front what qualifications your chosen school must have. We have previously discussed 2 important ones that most people consider first, which are location and tuition cost. As stated, although they are very important qualifications, they are not the only ones that need to be looked at. After all, the school you select is going to provide the education that will be the foundation of your new career as a welder. So below are more factors you may need to consider before picking a welding vocational school.

Accreditation. It's extremely important that the welder technical school you decide on is accredited by either a national or a regional organization. There are two 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 offers, such as Welding Technology. So make sure that the program you select is accredited, not just the school alone. Also, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, such as the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). In addition to helping ensure that you get a quality education, the accreditation may also help in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable in Kenai AK for non-accredited schools. Also, for those states or local governments that require licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited as well.

Job Assistance and Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous welding diploma or degree programs are offered combined with an apprenticeship program. Other schools will help place you in a job or an apprenticeship after graduation. Find out if the schools you are reviewing assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. The schools should have associations with local unions and other metal working businesses to which they can refer their students. Older schools may have a larger network of graduates that they can rely upon for referrals. These programs can help students find employment and establish relationships within the Kenai AK welding community.

Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that begin an educational program and complete it. It's essential that the welding school you choose has a high completion rate. A lower rate may signify that the students who enrolled in the program were dissatisfied with the training, the teachers, 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 confirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of Kenai AK employer relationships to assist students obtain employment or apprenticeships after graduation.

Modern Facilities and Equipment. Once you have narrowed down your selection of welding schools to 2 or 3 options, you should think out going to the campuses to look over their facilities. Verify 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 working with on the job. If you are unsure what to look for, and are currently in an apprenticeship program, consult with the master welder you are working under for guidance. If not, ask a local Kenai AK welding professional if they can give you a few tips.

School Location. Although we previously briefly covered the significance of location, there are a few additional issues that we should address. You should keep in mind that unless you have the ability to relocate, the welding program you pick must be within commuting distance of your Kenai AK home. If you do opt to attend an out-of-state school, apart from relocation costs there might be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly true for welder degree programs offered by community colleges. Furthermore, if the school provides a job placement or apprenticeship program, most likely their placements are within the school's local community. So the location of the school needs to be in a region or state where you ultimately will desire to work.

Smaller Classes. Individualized training is essential for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's possible to be lost in larger classes and not get much individualized training. Find out what the usual class size is for the welding schools you are reviewing. Ask if you can sit in on some classes so that you can see just how much individual attention the students are getting. While there, speak with several of the students and get their opinions. Similarly, speak with some of the instructors and find out what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they hold.

Convenient Class Scheduling. Lots of folks learn a new profession while still employed at their current job. Make sure that the class schedules for the schools you are reviewing are convenient enough to meet your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Kenai AK, verify that the schools you are assessing offer those choices. If you can only enroll part-time, make certain that the school you pick offers part-time enrollment. Also, check to see what the policy is to make up classes if you you miss any because of illness, work or family circumstances.

Learn More About Kenai Welding Vocational Schools

Find the Best Kenai Welding School for Certification

Selecting the ideal welder school will probably be the most important decision you will make to launch your new career. As we have covered in this article, there are many factors that you will need to evaluate and compare between the schools you are reviewing. It's a must that any welding training that you are considering includes a lot of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be smaller in size and every student must have their own welding machine to train on. Classroom instruction should offer a real-world frame of reference, and the course of study should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Training programs vary in duration and the kind of credential offered, so you will have to decide what length of program and credential will best fulfill your needs. Each training program provides different options for certification as well. Perhaps The ideal means to research your final list of schools is to visit each campus and talk with the faculty and students. Take the time to monitor a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the training program you choose is the best one for you. With the right training, effort and dedication, the final outcome will be a new career as a professional welder in Kenai AK.

 

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