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How to Pick the Right Welding Certification Classes near Ketchikan Alaska

Ketchikan Alaska construction welder at work siteFinding the ideal welder school near Ketchikan AK is an essential first step to starting your new career as a professional welder. But since there are so many schools to select from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more notably, once you have fine tuned your choices, how do you select the best one? Most people begin by reviewing the schools that are nearest to their residences. Once they have located those that are within commuting distance, they are drawn toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are important concerns when examining welding trade schools, but they are not the only ones. Other factors include such things as accreditation, reputation and job placement rates. So before initiating your search for a vocational 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 Training Programs

Ketchikan Alaska welder welding in metal shop

There are several alternatives available to receive training as a welder in a technical or trade school. You can obtain a diploma, a certificate or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are available in Welding Engineering or Welding Technology, but are more advanced courses than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also offered combined with an apprenticeship program. Following are short descriptions of the most common welding programs offered in the Ketchikan AK area.

  • Diploma and Certificate Programs are usually offered by technical and trade schools and take about 1 year to complete. They are more hands-on training in nature, designed primarily to teach 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 finish and are most often offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology furnishes a more extensive education than the diploma or certificate while still supplying the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.

Many municipalities and states do have licensing requirements for welders, so be sure to check for your location of potential employment. As needed, the welding school you pick should prep you for any licensing examinations that you will have to take in addition to supplying the proper training to become a qualified welder.

Welding Certification Choices

Ketchikan Alaska welder welding metal table

There are several organizations that provide welder certifications, which evaluate the knowledge and skill level of those applying. A large number of Ketchikan AK employers not only expect a degree or certificate from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a renowned organization such as the American Welding Society (AWS). A wide range of certifications are offered based on the kind of work that the welder performs. Some of the things 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 according to contract specifications

As already mentioned, various cities, states or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those requiring licensing, many also require certification for different kinds of work. Certification is also a means to demonstrate to employers that you are an extremely skilled and knowledgeable welder. So similarly as with licensing, check the requirements for your location and verify that the welding vocational school you choose readies you for certification if needed.

What to Ask Welder Trade Programs

Ketchikan Alaska electrician welding electrical beam

Once you have chosen the credential you want to obtain, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can start to evaluate schools. As you probably know, there are a large number of 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 a couple of significant ones that most people consider first, which are location and tuition cost. As mentioned, although they are very important qualifiers, they are not the only ones that need to be looked at. After all, the program you choose is going to furnish the training that will be the foundation of your new vocation as a welder. So below are more factors you might need to evaluate before picking a welder vocational school.

Accreditation. It's essential that the welder vocational school you decide on is accredited by either a regional or a national agency. There are two basic types of accreditation. The school may receive Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a single program the school offers, such as Welding Technology. So make sure that the program you choose is accredited, not just the school alone. Also, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, like the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping ensure that you receive a quality education, the accreditation may also assist in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently not available in Ketchikan AK for non-accredited schools. Finally, for those states or municipalities that require licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited also.

Apprenticeship and Job Assistance Programs. A large number of welding degree or certificate programs are offered combined with an apprenticeship program. Other schools will help place you in an apprenticeship or a job after graduation. Ask if the schools you are considering help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. The schools should have partnerships with local unions and other metal working businesses to which they can refer their students. More established schools may have a more substantial network of graduates that they can utilize 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 enroll in an instructional program and finish it. It's essential that the welder school you pick has a high completion rate. A lower rate may mean that the students who were in the program were dissatisfied with the instruction, the teachers, or the facilities, and dropped out. The job placement rate is also a good indicator of the quality of training. A high job placement rate will not only verify that the program has a good reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of Ketchikan AK contacts to assist students secure apprenticeships or employment upon graduation.

Up-to-date Equipment and Facilities. Once you have decreased your choice of welding programs to two or three options, you should consider visiting the campuses to evaluate their facilities. Confirm that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are modern. In particular, the training equipment should be comparable to what you will be using on the job. 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 suggestions.

School Location. Even though we already briefly talked about the relevance of location, there are a couple of additional points that we need to deal with. You should remember that unless you have the ability to move, the welder program you select needs to be within commuting distance of your Ketchikan AK home. If you do opt to attend an out-of-state school, apart from relocation costs there might 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 offers a job placement or apprenticeship program, most likely their placements are within the school's local community. So the location of the school should be in an area or state where you subsequently will desire to work.

Small Classes. One-on-one instruction is important for a manual trade such as welding. It's possible to be lost in larger classes and not receive much individualized instruction. Find out what the usual class size is for the welding schools you are looking at. Inquire if you can sit in on a few classes so that you can observe just how much individual attention the students are receiving. While there, speak with a few of the students and get their evaluations. Also, talk to a few of the instructors and find out what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they hold.

Flexible Class Schedules. Some people learn a new trade while still working at their current job. Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are flexible enough to satisfy your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Ketchikan AK, verify that the schools you are looking at provide those options. If you can only enroll part-time, make certain that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the protocol is to make up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family circumstances.

Learn More About Ketchikan Welding Training Programs

Find the Right Ketchikan Welding Training for Certification

Picking the best welder training program will undoubtedly be the most critical decision you will make to begin your new profession. As we have addressed in this article, there are many things that you will need to examine and compare between the programs you are looking at. It's a must that any welding training program that you are considering includes a lot of hands-on instruction. Classes should be smaller in size and each student should have their own welding machine to train on. Classroom instruction needs to provide a real-world context, and the training program should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Programs vary in length and the type of credential provided, so you will have to determine what length of program and certificate or degree will best serve your needs. Every program provides unique possibilities for certification also. Perhaps The ideal way to research your short list of schools is to visit each campus and speak with the teachers and students. Take the time to monitor a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the school you select is the best one for you. With the proper training, effort and commitment, the end outcome will be a new trade as a professional welder in Ketchikan AK.

 

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