How to Enroll In the Right Welder Training Program near Kenai Alaska
Choosing the ideal welding vocational school near Kenai AK is an important first step to beginning your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are a lot of schools to select from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more significantly, once you have narrowed down your alternatives, how do you pick the right one? A number of prospective students begin by looking at the schools that are nearest to their residences. When they have located those that are within driving distance, they gravitate toward the least expensive one. Yes, location and tuition cost are important concerns when evaluating welding vocational schools, but they are not the only ones. Other considerations 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 sensible to create a list of qualifications that your chosen school must have. But before we explore our due diligence checklist, let's talk a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welding Degree and Certificate Programs
There are a number of 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 in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Following are short descriptions of the most typical welding programs available in the Kenai AK area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are usually offered by technical and trade schools and require about one year to complete. They are more hands-on training in scope, created largely to teach welding skills. They can furnish a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or specialized skills for experienced welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take two years to complete and are usually offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology offers a more extensive education than the diploma or certificate while still providing the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
A number of states and municipalities do have licensing prerequisites for welders, so don't forget to check for your location of potential employment. If needed, the welder school you select should ready you for any licensing exams that you will need to pass in addition to furnishing the suitable training to become a qualified welder.
Welding Certification Alternatives
There are a number of organizations that offer welder certifications, which test the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Many Kenai AK employers not only demand a certificate or degree from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a renowned organization such as the American Welding Society (AWS). A wide range of certifications are available based on the type of work that the welder does. A few of the skills 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
- Operate based on contract specifications
As previously stated, various cities, states or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those requiring licensing, a number also require certification for various kinds of work. Certification is also a means to prove to employers that you are an extremely skilled and qualified welder. So just as with licensing, check the requirements for your local area and make sure that the welding vocational school you decide on readies you for certification if needed.
Subjects to Ask Welder Tech Programs
As soon as you have decided on the credential you want to attain, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can start to assess schools. As you can imagine, there are a large number of welder trade and technical schools in the Kenai AK area. That's why it's necessary to determine up front what qualifications your selected school must have. We have previously discussed two important ones that many people consider first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As mentioned, although they are very important qualifications, they are not the only ones that should be looked at. After all, the school you choose is going to provide the training 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 tech school.
Accreditation. It's very important that the welder vocational school you pick is accredited by either a regional or a national agency. There are two standard kinds of accreditation. The school may earn Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a specific program the school offers, such as Welding Technology. So verify that the program you pick is accredited, not just the school itself. Additionally, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, for example the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping ensure that you get a quality education, the accreditation can also help in securing financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not available in Kenai AK for non-accredited schools. Also, for those states or local governments that mandate licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited as well.
Job Placement and Apprenticeship Programs. Many welder certificate or degree programs are offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Various other schools will help place you in a job or an apprenticeship upon graduation. Find out if the schools you are reviewing assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. These schools must have relationships with local unions and various metal working businesses to which they can refer their students. Older schools may have a more substantial network of graduates that they can rely upon for placements. These programs can assist students in finding employment and develop relationships within the Kenai AK welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that enroll in an instructional program and finish it. It's crucial that the welder school you choose has a higher completion rate. A reduced rate could signify that the students who joined the program were dissatisfied with the training, the instructors, or the facilities, and dropped out. 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 program has an excellent reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of Kenai AK employer relationships to assist students obtain employment or apprenticeships upon graduation.
Modern Facilities and Equipment. Once you have narrowed down your choice of welder schools to 2 or 3 options, you should think out visiting the campuses to look over their facilities. Verify that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be instructed on are modern. Specifically, the training equipment should be comparable to what you will be using in the field. If you are uncertain 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 Kenai AK welding contractor if they can give you a few suggestions.
School Location. Even though we already briefly talked about the significance of location, there are a few additional points that we need to cover. You should bear in mind that unless you are able to relocate, the welder school you choose needs to be within driving distance of your Kenai AK home. If you do opt to attend an out-of-state school, besides relocation expenses there might be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly the case for welder degree programs offered by community colleges. Also, if the school provides an apprenticeship or job placement program, most 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 subsequently will want to work.
Small Classes. Personalized training is important for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's possible to get lost in bigger classes and not obtain much individualized instruction. Ask what the usual class size is for the welding programs you are looking at. Ask if you can attend a few classes so that you can observe how much individual attention the students are receiving. While there, speak with some of the students and get their opinions. Similarly, speak with some of the trainers and ask what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they have earned.
Convenient Class Scheduling. Many people learn a new profession while still employed at their present job. Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are convenient enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Kenai AK, make certain that the schools you are assessing offer those options. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you choose 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.
Find the Best Kenai Welding Training for Certification
Selecting the best welder school will probably be the most critical decision you will make to start your new career. As we have covered in this article, there are many things that you will need to evaluate and compare among the programs you are considering. It's a must that any welder training that you are evaluating includes a considerable amount of hands-on training. Classes need to be smaller in size and each student should have their own welding machine to train with. Classroom education needs to provide a real-world frame of reference, and the course of study should be current and conform with industry standards. Courses vary in length and the type of credential provided, so you will have to decide what length of program and certificate or degree will best satisfy your needs. Each training program offers unique options for certification also. Probably the best means to research your short list of schools is to go to each campus and talk with the students and faculty. Take the time to sit in on a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the program you pick is the ideal one for you. With the right training, effort and commitment, the end result will be a new occupation as a professional welder in Kenai AK.