How to Select the Right Welder Trade School near Kodiak Alaska
Selecting the ideal welding vocational school near Kodiak AK is an important first step to starting your new career as a professional welder. But since there are so many schools to pick from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more notably, once you have fine tuned your options, how do you select the right one? Many prospective students start by reviewing the schools that are closest to their homes. When they have located those that are within driving distance, they gravitate toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are necessary concerns when reviewing welder vocational schools, but they are not the only ones. Other considerations include such things as accreditation, reputation and job placement rates. So before beginning your search for a vocational school to become a welder, it's wise to develop a list of qualifications that your chosen 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 Training Courses
There are multiple options available to obtain training as a welder in a technical or trade school. You can obtain a a certificate, a diploma 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 made available combined with an apprenticeship program. Below are brief descriptions of the most typical welding programs available in the Kodiak AK area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are normally offered by technical and trade schools and take about a year to complete. They are more hands-on training in scope, fashioned largely to develop 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 2 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 furnishing the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
Many municipalities and states do have licensing prerequisites for welders, therefore be sure to check for your location of future employment. If needed, the welding school you choose should ready you for any licensing examinations that you will have to pass in addition to providing the appropriate training to become a qualified welder.
Welding Certification Options
There are several organizations that offer welding certifications, which evaluate the knowledge and skill level of those applying. A large number of Kodiak AK employers not only require a degree or certificate from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a respected agency such as the American Welding Society (AWS). A wide range of certifications are available based upon 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 specific kinds of welds
- Work in compliance with contract specifications
As formerly mentioned, many cities, states or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those calling for licensing, a number additionally require certification for different kinds of work. Certification is also a means to prove to employers that you are an extremely skilled and knowledgeable welder. So just as with licensing, look into the requirements for your location and make certain that the welding tech school you decide on readies you for certification if needed.
Topics to Ask Welding Tech Schools
As soon as you have decided on the credential you would like to earn, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can begin to evaluate schools. As you probably know, there are many welder trade and technical schools in the Kodiak AK area. That's why it's necessary to establish up front what qualifications your selected school must have. We have already discussed two important ones that many people look at first, which are location and tuition cost. As stated, although they are very important qualifications, they are not the only ones that must be considered. After all, the program you choose is going to furnish the education that will be the foundation of your new profession as a welder. So following are some additional factors you might need to consider before selecting a welding tech school.
Accreditation. It's essential that the welding tech school you choose is accredited by either a regional or a national 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 an individual program the school has, such as Welding Technology. So make certain that the program you choose is accredited, not just the school alone. Additionally, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, such as the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping make sure that you obtain a superior education, the accreditation may also assist in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently unavailable in Kodiak AK for schools that are not accredited. Also, for those states or municipalities that mandate licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited as well.
Job Assistance and Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of welder degree or diploma programs are provided combined with an apprenticeship program. Various other schools will assist in placing you in a job or an apprenticeship upon graduation. Ask if the schools you are considering assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. These schools should have associations 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 relationships within the Kodiak AK welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that enroll in an academic program and complete it. It's essential that the welder school you pick has a high completion rate. A low rate may signify that the students who enrolled 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 verify that the program has an excellent reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of Kodiak AK employer relationships to help students secure employment or apprenticeships after graduation.
Modern Equipment and Facilities. Once you have limited your selection of welder schools to 2 or 3 possibilities, you should think out visiting the campuses to inspect their facilities. Make sure that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be taught on are modern. In particular, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be using on the job. If you are unsure what to look for, and are already in an apprenticeship program, ask the master welder you are working under for guidance. If not, ask a local Kodiak AK welding contractor if they can give you a few tips.
School Location. Even though we previously briefly talked about the importance of location, there are a couple of additional points that we should address. You should keep in mind that unless you are able to relocate, the welding program you choose must be within driving distance of your Kodiak AK home. If you do decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides moving expenses there could be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially true for welding certificate programs offered by community colleges. Additionally, if the school provides a job placement or apprenticeship program, most likely their placements are within the school's local community. So the location of the school needs to be in a region or state where you ultimately will want to work.
Smaller Classes. Individualized instruction is important for a manual trade such as welding. It's easy to get overlooked in larger classes and not receive much one-on-one training. Find out what the typical class size is for the welding schools you are reviewing. Inquire if you can sit in on a few classes so that you can experience just how much individual attention the students are receiving. While there, speak with some of the students and get their evaluations. Similarly, chat with some of the teachers and ask what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they hold.
Convenient Class Scheduling. Many people learn a new trade while still employed at their current job. Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are considering are convenient enough to meet your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Kodiak AK, make sure that the schools you are assessing offer those alternatives. If you can only enroll part-time, confirm that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the policy is to make up classes if you you miss any because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Find the Best Kodiak Welding Course for Certification
Picking the best welder training program will probably be the most important decision you will make to begin your new trade. As we have addressed in this article, there are many things that you will need to evaluate and compare among the schools you are considering. It's a must that any welder training that you are examining includes a good deal of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be smaller in size and each student must have their personal welding machine to train on. Classroom teaching should provide a real-world frame of reference, and the course of study should be current and conform with industry standards. Programs differ in duration and the type of credential provided, so you will have to ascertain what length of program and credential will best satisfy your needs. Every training program offers different possibilities for certification also. Perhaps the best approach to research your short list of schools is to go to each campus and speak with the students and instructors. Take the time to monitor a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the program you choose is the right one for you. With the right training, hard work and commitment, the final outcome will be a new career as a professional welder in Kodiak AK.