How to Choose the Best Welding Training Program near Kenai Alaska
Finding the right welding vocational school near Kenai AK is an important first step to starting your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are so many schools to pick from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more significantly, once you have fine tuned your alternatives, how do you select the right one? A number of prospective students start by checking out the schools that are nearest to their homes. Once they have identified those that are within driving distance, they are drawn toward the least expensive one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are crucial concerns when examining welder trade schools, but they are not the only ones. Other factors 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 wise to establish a list of qualifications that your selected school must have. But before we examine our due diligence checklist, let's talk a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welding Certificate and Degree Training Courses
There are several alternatives available to obtain 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 Technology or Welding Engineering, but are more advanced courses than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available along with an apprenticeship program. Following are brief descriptions of the most prevalent welding programs available in the Kenai AK area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are usually offered by trade and technical schools and require about 1 year to finish. They are more hands-on training in nature, fashioned mainly 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 well-rounded education than the diploma or certificate while still providing 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. As needed, the welding school you pick should ready you for any licensing exams that you will have to pass in addition to supplying the proper training to become a professional welder.
Welding Certification Alternatives
There are various organizations that offer welding certifications, which evaluate the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Many Kenai AK employers not only expect a degree or certificate from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a renowned organization like the American Welding Society (AWS). Different certifications are available based upon the type of work that the welder does. A few of the skills that certification can acknowledge are the welder's ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with certain metal thicknesses
- Work with specific kinds of welds
- Perform in compliance with contract specifications
As already stated, some cities, states or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those requiring licensing, many additionally require certification for various types of work. Certification is also a means to prove to employers that you are an exceptionally skilled and experienced welder. So just as with licensing, check the requirements for your local area and verify that the welder trade school you select readies you for certification if needed.
Questions to Ask Welder Trade Schools
Once you have decided on the credential you would like to obtain, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can start to assess schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are numerous welder trade and vocational schools in the Kenai AK area. That's why it's important to establish up front what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have already discussed a couple of significant ones that most people look at first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As stated, although they are very important qualifications, they are not the only ones that must be looked at. After all, the program you pick is going to furnish the education that will be the foundation of your new vocation as a welder. So below are more factors you may need to consider before picking a welding trade school.
Accreditation. It's essential that the welding technical school you choose is accredited by either a national or a regional organization. There are two standard kinds of accreditation. The school may receive Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a specific program the school offers, for example Welding Technology. So make sure that the program you pick is accredited, not just the school alone. 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 make sure that you receive a quality education, the accreditation can also help in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not available in Kenai 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 also.
Job Assistance and Apprenticeship Programs. Many welder diploma or degree programs are provided combined 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 help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. The schools must have partnerships 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 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 percentage of students that begin an academic program and finish it. It's essential that the welding school you choose has a higher completion rate. A low rate could mean that the students who joined the program were unhappy with the training, the teachers, or the facilities, and quit. The job placement rate is also an indication of the quality of training. A higher job placement rate will not only verify that the program has a good reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of Kenai AK employer relationships to help students obtain employment or apprenticeships after graduation.
Modern Facilities and Equipment. Once you have narrowed down your selection of welding schools to two or three options, you should consider visiting the campuses to inspect their facilities. Confirm that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be taught on are up-to-date. In particular, the training equipment should be similar 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 some pointers.
School Location. Even though we previously briefly discussed the significance of location, there are a couple of additional issues that we should deal with. You should bear in mind that unless you have the ability to move, the welding program you choose must be within commuting distance of your Kenai AK home. If you do choose to attend an out-of-state school, apart from moving expenses there could be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly true for welding degree programs offered by community colleges. Furthermore, if the school offers an apprenticeship or job placement program, often their placements are within the school's local community. So the location of the school should be in an area or state where you ultimately will want to work.
Small Classes. Personalized instruction is important for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's easy to be overlooked in larger classes and not get much individualized instruction. Ask what the usual class size is for the welder schools you are considering. Ask if you can sit in on a few classes so that you can experience how much individual attention the students are receiving. While there, talk with some of the students and get their feedback. Similarly, chat with some of the teachers and find out what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they hold.
Flexible Class Scheduling. Lots of folks learn a new profession while still employed at their current job. Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are looking at are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Kenai AK, make sure that the schools you are considering offer those choices. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, verify that the school you decide on offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the policy is to make up classes if you you miss any because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Choose the Best Kenai Welding Program for Certification
Choosing the right welding school will probably be the most critical decision you will make to launch your new profession. As we have covered in this article, there are a number of factors that you will need to assess and compare among the schools you are considering. It's a must that any welding training program that you are examining includes a good deal of hands-on training. Classes need to be smaller in size and each student should have their own welding machine to train with. Classroom instruction should offer a real-world context, and the course of study should be current and conform with industry standards. Programs differ in length and the type of credential provided, so you will have to ascertain what length of program and degree or certificate will best serve your needs. Every program provides unique options for certification also. Perhaps the best way to research your short list of schools is to go to each campus and speak with the students and instructors. Invest some time to attend some classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the school you select is the best one for you. With the right training, effort and commitment, the final result will be a new occupation as a professional welder in Kenai AK.