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How to Select the Best Welding Vocational School near Kenai Alaska

Kenai Alaska construction welder at work siteChoosing the right welder vocational school near Kenai AK is an important first step to launching your new career as a professional welder. But since there are numerous schools to pick from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more significantly, once you have fine tuned your options, how do you select the best one? Most people start by reviewing the schools that are closest to their homes. When they have located those that are within commuting distance, they are drawn toward the least costly one. Yes, location and tuition cost are important concerns when examining welding technical schools, but they are not the only ones. Other factors include such things as accreditation, reputation and job placement rates. So before beginning your search for a vocational school to become a welder, it's wise to create a list of qualifications that your chosen school must have. But before we explore our due diligence checklist, let's cover a little bit about how to become a welder.

Welding Certificate and Degree Training

Kenai Alaska welder welding in fabrication shop

There are several options to get training as a welder in a technical or trade 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 programs than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Following are brief descriptions of the most typical welding programs offered in the Kenai AK area.

  • Certificate and Diploma Programs are generally made available by technical and trade schools and require about 1 year to complete. They are more hands-on training in nature, created primarily to teach welding skills. They can furnish a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or additional skills for experienced welders.
  • Associate Degree Programs will take two years to finish and are most often offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology furnishes a more well-rounded education than the diploma or certificate while still furnishing the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.

Many states and municipalities do have licensing prerequisites for welders, therefore make sure to check for your location of future employment. As required, the welding school you pick should ready you for any licensing examinations that you will need to take in addition to supplying the proper training to become a professional welder.

Welding Certification Choices

Kenai Alaska welder welding metal table

There are multiple organizations that offer welding certifications, which assess the knowledge and skill level of those applying. Many Kenai AK employers not only demand a certificate or degree from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a highly regarded agency like the American Welding Society (AWS). A wide range of certifications are available based upon the type of work that the welder does. Just some of the things that certification can acknowledge are the welder's ability to

  • Work in compliance with specific codes
  • Work with certain metal thicknesses
  • Work with various types of welds
  • Work based on contract specifications

As previously stated, many states, cities or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those mandating licensing, some additionally require certification for various kinds of work. Certification is also a means to prove to employers that you are an extremely skilled and experienced welder. So similarly as with licensing, check the requirements for your local area and confirm that the welding tech school you decide on readies you for certification if needed.

Questions to Ask Welder Tech Programs

Kenai Alaska electrician welding metal electrical beam

When you have decided on the credential you would like to attain, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can start to compare schools. As you can imagine, there are many welding trade and vocational schools in the Kenai AK area. That's why it's important to determine in advance what qualifications your chosen school must have. We have already discussed 2 important ones that most people look at first, which are location and tuition cost. As stated, although they are essential qualifications, they are not the only ones that should be considered. After all, the program you choose is going to furnish the instruction that will be the foundation of your new profession as a welder. So below are some additional factors you may need to evaluate before selecting a welding vocational school.

Accreditation. It's essential that the welding technical school you pick is accredited by either a national or a regional agency. There are two basic types of accreditation. The school may receive Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on an individual program the school offers, for example Welding Technology. So confirm that the program you select is accredited, not just the school itself. 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). In addition to helping ensure that you receive an excellent education, the accreditation can also help in getting financial aid or student loans, which are frequently unavailable in Kenai AK for schools that are not accredited. Also, for those states or local governments that require licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited as well.

Job Assistance and Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of welder degree or certificate programs are provided combined with an apprenticeship program. Some other schools will help place you in a job or an apprenticeship upon graduation. Ask if the schools you are considering help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. These schools should have associations with local unions and other metal working businesses to which they can refer their students. More established schools may have a larger network of graduates that they can rely upon for placements. 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 percentage of students that start an educational program and complete it. It's essential that the welding program you choose has a high completion rate. A reduced rate may mean that the students who joined the program were unhappy with the training, the instructors, or the facilities, and quit. The job placement rate is also an indication of the caliber of training. A higher job placement rate will not only verify that the program has an excellent reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of Kenai AK employer relationships to assist students obtain apprenticeships or employment upon graduation.

Up-to-date Equipment and Facilities. After you have limited your choice of welder schools to two or three options, you should consider going to the campuses to inspect their facilities. Confirm that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be taught on are modern. Specifically, the training equipment should be similar 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. If not, ask a local Kenai AK welding professional if they can give you some tips.

School Location. Even though we previously briefly discussed the relevance of location, there are a few additional points that we need to deal with. 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 opt to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there might be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly the case for welder certificate programs offered by community colleges. Also, if the school offers an apprenticeship or job placement program, more than 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 wish to work.

Small Classes. Individualized instruction is important for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's possible to get overlooked in larger classes and not receive much personalized training. Find out what the usual class size is for the welder programs you are reviewing. Ask if you can attend a couple of classes so that you can experience just how much personal attention the students are getting. While there, speak with several of the students and get their evaluations. Also, talk to a few of the instructors and ask 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 present job. Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are considering are convenient enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Kenai AK, confirm that the schools you are reviewing provide those options. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you pick offers part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the policy is to make up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family responsibilities.

Learn More About Kenai Welder Training

Find the Best Kenai Welding Training for Certification

Picking the right welder school will undoubtedly be the most critical decision you will make to begin your new profession. As we have covered in this article, there are many factors that you will need to evaluate and compare among the programs you are reviewing. It's a must that any welder school that you are examining includes a considerable amount of hands-on training. Classes should be smaller in size and each student must have their personal welding machine to train with. Classroom education should offer a real-world context, and the training program should be current and in-line with industry standards. Courses differ in duration and the type of credential provided, so you will need to ascertain what length of program and certificate or degree will best fulfill your needs. Every training program offers unique possibilities for certification also. Probably The ideal approach to research your short list of schools is to check out each campus and talk with the faculty and students. Invest some time to attend a few classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the school you pick is the right one for you. With the right training, effort and commitment, the end outcome will be a new trade as a professional welder in Kenai AK.

 

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