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How to Choose the Right Welder Certificate Program near Ketchikan Alaska

Ketchikan Alaska construction welder at work siteSelecting the right welder technical school near Ketchikan AK is an essential 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 fine tuned your options, how do you select the right one? A number of people start by looking at the schools that are nearest to their homes. Once they have located those that are within commuting distance, they are drawn toward the least costly one. Yes, location and tuition cost are necessary concerns when examining welding vocational schools, but they are not the only ones. Other concerns 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 create a list of qualifications that your chosen school must have. But before we examine our due diligence checklist, let's cover a little bit about how to become a welder.

Welding Degree and Certificate Training

Ketchikan Alaska welder working in metal shop

There are several options available to get training as a welder in a trade or vocational school. You can receive a a certificate, a diploma or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are available in Welding Technology or Welding Engineering, but are more advanced programs than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Below are brief summaries of the most common welding programs offered in the Ketchikan AK area.

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

Some states and municipalities do have licensing requirements for welders, so make sure to find out for your location of future employment. If needed, the welding school you choose should prepare you for any licensing exams that you will have to take in addition to furnishing the proper training to become a qualified welder.

Welder Certification Alternatives

Ketchikan Alaska welder welding metal frame

There are various organizations that provide welding certifications, which test the knowledge and skill level of those applying. Numerous Ketchikan AK employers not only expect a degree or certificate from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a respected organization such as the American Welding Society (AWS). Different certifications are available based upon the kind of work that the welder performs. A few of the things that certification can attest to are the welder's ability to

  • Work in compliance with specific codes
  • Work with specified metal thicknesses
  • Work with various types of welds
  • Operate according to contract specifications

As earlier mentioned, various cities, states or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those calling for licensing, many also require certification for various types of work. Certification is also a way to prove to employers that you are an extremely skilled and qualified welder. So similarly as with licensing, look into the requirements for your location and verify that the welding tech school you choose readies you for certification if needed.

What to Ask Welding Tech Schools

Ketchikan Alaska electrician welding metal electrical pole

After you have chosen the credential you would like to obtain, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can start to compare schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are numerous welding vocational and trade schools in the Ketchikan AK area. That's why it's essential to determine up front what qualifications your chosen school must have. We have already covered 2 significant ones that many people look at first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As stated, although they are essential qualifications, they are not the only ones that should be looked at. After all, the program you select 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 picking a welding technical school.

Accreditation. It's extremely important that the welder trade school you choose is accredited by either a national or a regional organization. There are 2 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 verify 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 organization, for example the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). In addition to helping ensure that you receive an excellent education, the accreditation might also help in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases not offered in Ketchikan AK for non-accredited schools. Also, for those states or local governments that mandate licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited also.

Apprenticeship and Job Placement Programs. Numerous welding degree or certificate programs are provided combined with an apprenticeship program. Various other schools will assist in placing 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 various 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 referrals. These programs can assist students in finding employment and establish associations within the Ketchikan AK welding community.

Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that begin an instructional program and finish it. It's crucial that the welder school you pick has a higher completion rate. A reduced rate might mean that the students who joined the program were unhappy with the training, the instructors, or the facilities, and dropped out. The job placement rate is also an indication of the caliber of training. A higher job placement rate will not only verify that the school has a good reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of Ketchikan AK contacts to assist students secure employment or apprenticeships upon graduation.

Modern 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 evaluate their facilities. Verify that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be taught on are modern. Specifically, the training equipment should be comparable to what you will be using on the job. If you are not sure what to look for, and are already in an apprenticeship program, consult with the master welder you are working under for guidance. Otherwise, ask a local Ketchikan AK welding contractor if they can give you a few pointers.

School Location. Even though we previously briefly discussed the relevance of location, there are a few additional issues that we need to address. You should remember that unless you are able to relocate, the welding school you pick must be within commuting distance of your Ketchikan AK home. If you do opt to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation expenses there may be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially the case for welding diploma 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 a region or state where you subsequently will want to work.

Smaller Classes. Individualized instruction is important for a manual trade such as welding. It's possible to get lost in larger classes and not receive much personalized instruction. Find out what the average class size is for the welding schools you are reviewing. Inquire if you can sit in on a few classes so that you can see how much personal attention the students are getting. While there, talk with a few of the students and get their feedback. Similarly, 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 Scheduling. Many people learn a new trade while still employed at their present job. Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are looking at are flexible enough to satisfy your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Ketchikan AK, confirm that the schools you are considering offer those options. If you can only attend part-time, make sure 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 due to work, illness or family circumstances.

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Choose the Right Ketchikan Welding Training for Certification

Selecting the right welding training program will undoubtedly be the most critical decision you will make to start 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 looking at. It's a necessity that any welder training program that you are assessing includes a lot of hands-on training. Classes should be smaller in size and every student should have their own welding machine to train with. Classroom education should offer a real-world frame of reference, and the course of study should be current and in-line with industry standards. Courses vary in length and the type of credential provided, so you will need to decide what length of program and certificate or degree will best satisfy your needs. Each program provides unique options for certification also. Probably The ideal approach to research your short list of schools is to go to each campus and speak with the teachers and students. Invest some time to attend a few classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the program you pick is the best one for you. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, the final outcome will be a new occupation as a professional welder in Ketchikan AK.

 

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