How to Pick the Right Welder Trade School near Kodiak Alaska
Choosing 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 numerous schools to choose from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more importantly, once you have narrowed down your alternatives, how do you pick the best one? A number of people begin by checking out the schools that are nearest to their homes. Once they have located those that are within commuting distance, they are drawn toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and tuition cost are necessary issues when examining welding technical schools, but they are not the only ones. Other factors include such things as reputation, accreditation and job placement rates. So before initiating your search for a trade school to become a welder, it's wise to establish a list of qualifications that your chosen school must have. But before we examine our due diligence checklist, let's talk a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welding Degree and Certificate Training Programs
There are a number of options 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 offered in Welding Engineering or Welding Technology, but are more advanced programs than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also offered combined with an apprenticeship program. Following are brief explanations of the most typical welding programs available in the Kodiak AK area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are generally offered by technical and trade schools and take about 1 year to finish. They are more hands-on training in scope, fashioned primarily 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 offers a more extensive education than the diploma or certificate while still providing the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
Many municipalities and states do have licensing requirements for welders, therefore don't forget to find out for your location of potential employment. If needed, the welding school you pick should ready you for any licensing exams that you will need to pass in addition to supplying the appropriate training to become a qualified welder.
Welding Certification Options
There are a number of organizations that provide welding certifications, which assess the knowledge and skill level of those applying. Many Kodiak AK employers not only demand a certificate or degree from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a highly regarded agency such as the American Welding Society (AWS). A wide range of certifications are offered based upon the kind of work that the welder does. Some of the things that certification can attest to are the welder's ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specific metal thicknesses
- Work with certain types of welds
- Work based on contract specifications
As previously mentioned, some cities, states or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those calling for licensing, a number also require certification for different types of work. Certification is also a means to prove to employers that you are a highly skilled and experienced welder. So similarly as with licensing, look into the requirements for your location and make sure that the welding vocational school you decide on prepares you for certification as needed.
Topics to Ask Welding Technical Schools
When you have chosen the credential you want to attain, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can begin to assess schools. As you probably know, there are a large number of welder trade and technical schools in the Kodiak AK area. That's why it's necessary to establish up front what qualifications your chosen school must have. We have already discussed a couple of important ones that most people consider first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As mentioned, although they are essential qualifications, they are not the only ones that need to be considered. After all, the program you choose is going to provide the training that will be the foundation of your new career as a welder. So below are more factors you might want to evaluate before picking a welding technical school.
Accreditation. It's essential that the welding vocational school you pick is accredited by either a regional or a national agency. There are 2 basic kinds of accreditation. The school may attain Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a single program the school has, such as Welding Technology. So make certain that the program you select is accredited, not just the school alone. Additionally, 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). Besides helping make sure that you obtain a quality education, the accreditation may also help in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are often unavailable in Kodiak AK for non-accredited schools. Also, for those states or local governments that require licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited as well.
Job Assistance and Apprenticeship Programs. Many welder degree or diploma programs are provided combined with an apprenticeship program. Other schools will help place you in a job or an apprenticeship upon 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 relationships with local unions and other 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 placements. These programs can help students find employment and develop associations within the Kodiak 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 important that the welding school you pick has a higher completion rate. A lower rate could mean that the students who joined the program were dissatisfied with the instruction, the teachers, or the facilities, and quit. The job placement rate is also an indication of the caliber of training. A high job placement rate will not only confirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of Kodiak AK employer relationships to assist students secure employment or apprenticeships after graduation.
Modern Facilities and Equipment. Once you have limited your choice of welding programs to two or three possibilities, you should consider visiting the campuses to inspect their facilities. Confirm that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be instructed on are modern. Specifically, the training equipment should be comparable to what you will be working with 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 Kodiak AK welding contractor if they can give you some pointers.
School Location. Although we previously briefly talked about the relevance of location, there are a few additional points that we should cover. You should remember that unless you can move, the welder school you choose needs to be within commuting distance of your Kodiak AK home. If you do decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides relocation costs there may 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 offers 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 an area 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 be overlooked in bigger classes and not get much individualized training. Find out what the typical class size is for the welder programs you are considering. Ask if you can attend a couple of classes so that you can see how much personal attention the students are getting. While there, talk with several of the students and get their feedback. Similarly, chat with some of the trainers and ask what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they hold.
Convenient Class Scheduling. Lots of folks learn a new profession while still employed at their present job. Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are looking at are convenient enough to satisfy your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Kodiak AK, make certain that the schools you are assessing provide those options. If you can only attend part-time, confirm that the school you pick offers part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the protocol is to make up classes if you you miss any because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Find the Right Kodiak Welding Program 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 many things that you will need to examine and compare among the schools you are reviewing. It's a must that any welder training that you are reviewing includes a considerable amount of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be smaller in size and every student should have their personal welding machine to train with. Classroom teaching needs to offer a real-world context, and the training program should be current and in-line with industry standards. Training programs vary in duration and the type of credential provided, so you will need to ascertain what length of program and credential will best fulfill your needs. Each program provides unique possibilities for certification as well. Perhaps The ideal means to research your short list of schools is to check out each campus and talk with the faculty and students. Take the time to attend a few classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the school you decide on is the best one for you. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, the end result will be a new occupation as a professional welder in Kodiak AK.