How to Select the Best Welder Certificate Program near Ketchikan Alaska
Enrolling in the ideal welder school near Ketchikan AK is an important first step to beginning your new occupation 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 alternatives, how do you pick the right one? A number of people start by checking out the schools that are closest to their homes. When they have located those that are within commuting distance, they are drawn toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and tuition cost are crucial issues when examining welder technical schools, but they are not the only ones. Other factors include such things as reputation, accreditation and job placement rates. So before beginning your search for a trade school to become a welder, it's wise to create a list of qualifications that your selected school must have. But before we delve into our due diligence checklist, let's talk a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welder Certificate and Degree Programs
There are several options to receive training as a welder in a trade or technical 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 degrees than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also offered along with an apprenticeship program. Following are short explanations of the most prevalent welding programs available in the Ketchikan AK area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are normally offered by trade and technical schools and take about 1 year to complete. They are more hands-on training in nature, fashioned mainly to develop welding skills. They can provide a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or specialized skills for experienced welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take 2 years to complete and are most often offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology offers a more extensive 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. If required, the welding school you choose should prep you for any licensing examinations that you will have to pass in addition to furnishing the suitable training to become a qualified welder.
Welding Certification Choices
There are multiple organizations that provide welder certifications, which test the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Many Ketchikan AK employers not only expect a certificate or degree from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a respected agency such as the American Welding Society (AWS). A wide range of certifications are available based upon the kind of work that the welder does. A few of the skills that certification can acknowledge are the welder's ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with certain metal thicknesses
- Work with specific kinds of welds
- Perform according to contract specifications
As previously stated, various states, cities or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those requiring licensing, many also require certification for different types of work. Certification is also a way to demonstrate to employers that you are a highly skilled and experienced welder. So just as with licensing, look into the requirements for your local area and make sure that the welding tech school you choose readies you for certification if needed.
Subjects to Ask Welder Vocational Programs
After you have chosen the credential you would like to earn, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can start to compare schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are many welding trade and vocational schools in the Ketchikan AK area. That's why it's necessary to decide in advance what qualifications your selected school must have. We have already discussed two important ones that most people look at first, which are location and tuition cost. As stated, although they are essential qualifiers, they are not the only ones that need to be looked at. After all, the school you pick is going to furnish the training that will be the foundation of your new profession as a welder. So following are more factors you may need to consider before selecting a welder trade school.
Accreditation. It's very important that the welding vocational school you pick is accredited by either a national or a regional agency. There are two standard types of accreditation. The school may earn Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a single program the school has, for example Welding Technology. So confirm 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, like the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). In addition to helping make sure that you receive a superior education, the accreditation may also help in securing financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases not available 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 as well.
Job Placement and Apprenticeship Programs. Many welding diploma or degree programs are offered combined with an apprenticeship program. 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 assistance program. The schools must have relationships with local unions and other metal working businesses to which they can place their students. Older 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 Ketchikan AK welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that begin an educational program and finish it. It's crucial that the welder school you choose has a high completion rate. A lower rate may signify that the students who were in the program were dissatisfied with the instruction, 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 confirm that the program has an excellent reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of Ketchikan AK employer relationships to help students obtain employment or apprenticeships after graduation.
Modern Facilities and Equipment. Once you have limited your selection of welding programs to 2 or 3 options, you should think out going to the campuses to evaluate their facilities. Make sure that both the facilities and the equipment 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 not sure 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 professional if they can give you a few pointers.
School Location. Although we already briefly covered the relevance of location, there are a couple of additional points that we should cover. You should remember that unless you can move, the welding school you pick needs to be within commuting distance of your Ketchikan AK home. If you do opt to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides moving expenses there might be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly true for welder certificate 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 local community. So the location of the school needs to be in an area or state where you subsequently will wish to work.
Small Classes. One-on-one instruction is essential for a manual trade such as welding. It's easy to be lost in bigger classes and not get much one-on-one training. Find out what the typical class size is for the welder programs you are considering. Inquire if you can sit in on some classes so that you can witness just how much personal attention the students are getting. While there, talk with a few of the students and get their feedback. Similarly, speak with some of the trainers and ask what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they have earned.
Flexible Class Scheduling. Some people learn a new profession while still employed at their present job. Make sure that the class schedules for the schools you are looking at are convenient enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Ketchikan AK, confirm that the schools you are assessing provide those choices. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the school you pick offers part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the policy is to make up classes if you you miss any because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Choose the Best Ketchikan Welding School for Certification
Selecting the ideal welder school will probably be the most critical decision you will make to launch your new trade. As we have discussed in this article, there are many factors that you will need to examine and compare between the programs you are considering. It's a must that any welding training program that you are assessing includes a lot of hands-on training. Classes need to be smaller in size and every student must have their own welding machine to train on. Classroom teaching needs to provide a real-world perspective, and the curriculum should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Training programs vary in length and the kind of credential offered, so you will need to determine what length of program and certificate or degree will best fulfill your needs. Each training program offers different possibilities for certification as well. Perhaps the best means to research your short list of schools is to go to each campus and talk with the students and faculty. Invest some time to monitor some classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the training program you decide on is the ideal one for you. With the right training, effort and commitment, the final result will be a new career as a professional welder in Ketchikan AK.