How to Select the Right Welder Certification Classes near Ketchikan Alaska
Enrolling in the ideal welding school near Ketchikan AK is an important first step to starting 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 notably, once you have narrowed down your choices, how do you pick the best one? A number of people begin by checking out the schools that are nearest to their residences. 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 important concerns when reviewing welder 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 trade school to become a welder, it's sensible to establish a list of qualifications that your selected school must have. But before we examine our due diligence checklist, let's cover a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welder Degree and Certificate Programs
There are multiple alternatives available to obtain training as a welder in a technical or trade school. You can earn a diploma, a certificate or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are available in Welding Engineering or Welding Technology, but are more advanced degrees than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available along with an apprenticeship program. Below are brief descriptions of the most prevalent welding programs offered in the Ketchikan AK area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are usually offered by technical and trade schools and require about 1 year to complete. They are more hands-on training in scope, created primarily to teach welding skills. They can provide a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or additional skills for experienced welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take 2 years to finish and are most often offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology provides a more well-rounded education than the certificate or diploma while still providing the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
A number of municipalities and states do have licensing prerequisites for welders, so make sure to find out for your location of future employment. As needed, the welder school you pick should prep you for any licensing exams that you will have to take in addition to providing the appropriate training to become a professional welder.
Welding Certification Alternatives
There are various institutions that provide welding certifications, which test the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Many Ketchikan AK employers not only require a degree or certificate from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a highly regarded agency such as the American Welding Society (AWS). A variety of certifications are available based on the type of work that the welder performs. Just some 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 certain kinds of welds
- Operate in compliance with contract specifications
As previously mentioned, some cities, states or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those requiring licensing, some also require certification for different kinds of work. Certification is also a means to prove to employers that you are an exceptionally skilled and qualified welder. So just as with licensing, check the requirements for your location and make certain that the welding trade school you choose preps you for certification if needed.
Questions to Ask Welding Vocational Programs
When you have decided on the credential you would like to attain, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can begin to compare schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are many welder trade and vocational schools in the Ketchikan AK area. That's why it's important to determine up front what qualifications your selected school must have. We have previously discussed a couple of significant ones that most people consider first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As stated, although they are very important qualifications, they are not the only ones that need to be looked at. After all, the program you select is going to furnish the training that will be the foundation of your new career as a welder. So following are more factors you might want to consider before picking a welding trade school.
Accreditation. It's very important that the welding technical school you decide on is accredited by either a national or a regional agency. There are two basic kinds of accreditation. The school may earn Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a single program the school offers, for example Welding Technology. So confirm that the program you select is accredited, not just the school itself. Also, 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 obtain a superior education, the accreditation can also assist in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently not available in Ketchikan AK for schools that are not accredited. Finally, for those states or municipalities that mandate licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited also.
Job Assistance and Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of welder certificate or degree programs are offered combined with an apprenticeship program. Some other schools will help place you in a job or an apprenticeship after graduation. Find out if the schools you are looking at help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. The schools must have partnerships 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 placements. These programs can assist students in finding employment and develop relationships 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 complete it. It's crucial that the welder school you choose has a higher completion rate. A low rate may signify that the students who were in the program were unhappy with the instruction, the teachers, or the facilities, and dropped out. The job placement rate is also an indication of the quality of training. A higher job placement rate will not only affirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the trade, but additionally that it has the network of Ketchikan AK employer relationships to help students obtain apprenticeships or employment upon graduation.
Modern Equipment and Facilities. Once you have limited your selection of welder programs to 2 or 3 options, you should consider going to the campuses to evaluate their facilities. Make sure that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be taught on are up-to-date. Specifically, the training equipment should be comparable to what you will be using in the field. 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. Otherwise, ask a local Ketchikan AK welding contractor if they can give you a few tips.
School Location. Even though we already briefly covered the relevance of location, there are a few additional issues that we need to cover. 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 Ketchikan AK home. If you do opt to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to moving expenses there could 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 provides an apprenticeship or job placement 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 desire to work.
Small Classes. Individualized training is essential for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's easy to get lost in bigger classes and not get much personalized instruction. Ask what the usual class size is for the welder schools you are looking at. Inquire if you can sit in on a few classes so that you can see just how much personal attention the students are getting. While there, talk with several of the students and get their evaluations. Also, chat with a few of the instructors and ask what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they hold.
Flexible Class Scheduling. Some people learn a new profession while still working at their current job. Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are considering are convenient enough to meet your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Ketchikan AK, confirm that the schools you are reviewing provide those choices. If you can only attend part-time, verify that the school you decide on offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the protocol is to make up classes if you you miss any because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Find the Best Ketchikan Welding Training for Certification
Picking the best welder school will undoubtedly be the most important decision you will make to start your new trade. As we have covered in this article, there are many factors that you will need to examine and compare between the programs you are looking at. It's a must that any welding training that you are considering includes a lot of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be small in size and each student must have their own welding machine to train on. Classroom teaching needs to provide a real-world perspective, and the course of study should be current and conform with industry standards. Training programs differ in length and the type of credential provided, so you will need to determine what length of program and degree or certificate will best serve your needs. Every program offers unique possibilities for certification also. Probably the best way to research your final list of schools is to check out each campus and speak with the faculty and students. Invest some time to monitor some classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the program you select is the best one for you. With the proper training, hard work and dedication, the end result will be a new career as a professional welder in Ketchikan AK.