How to Pick the Right Welding Certification Classes near Kodiak Alaska
Selecting the right welding trade school near Kodiak AK is an essential 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 importantly, once you have narrowed down your options, how do you select the best one? A number of people begin by looking at the schools that are nearest to their homes. Once they have found those that are within commuting distance, they gravitate toward the least expensive one. Yes, location and tuition cost are necessary concerns when reviewing welder technical schools, but they are not the only ones. Other concerns 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 prudent to develop a list of qualifications that your chosen school must have. But before we explore our due diligence checklist, let's cover a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welding Degree and Certificate Training
There are several alternatives available to obtain training as a welder in a trade or technical school. You can earn a a certificate, a diploma or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are offered in Welding Engineering or Welding Technology, but are more advanced degrees than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Below are short summaries of the most prevalent welding programs available in the Kodiak AK area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are generally made available by trade and technical schools and require about one year to complete. They are more hands-on training in scope, created largely to develop welding skills. They can furnish a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or supplemental skills for working welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take two years to complete and are usually offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology furnishes a more well-rounded education than the diploma or certificate while still furnishing the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
Some states and municipalities do have licensing prerequisites for welders, therefore don't forget to check for your location of future employment. As required, the welding school you pick should prepare you for any licensing exams that you will need to pass in addition to furnishing the appropriate training to become a qualified welder.
Welder Certification Options
There are various organizations that provide welder certifications, which test the knowledge and skill level of those applying. Numerous Kodiak AK employers not only demand a degree or certificate from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a respected organization such as the American Welding Society (AWS). A variety of certifications are offered based upon the type 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 specific metal thicknesses
- Work with certain kinds of welds
- Operate in compliance with contract specifications
As formerly stated, some states, cities or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those mandating licensing, a number also require certification for various kinds of work. Certification is also a means to demonstrate to employers that you are a highly skilled and qualified welder. So just as with licensing, look into the requirements for your location and confirm that the welding trade school you select preps you for certification as needed.
What to Ask Welder Vocational Programs
When you have decided on the credential you want to earn, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can start to evaluate schools. As you can imagine, there are numerous welder trade and technical schools in the Kodiak AK area. That's why it's essential to establish in advance what qualifications your selected school must have. We have already covered two important ones that many people consider first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As stated, although they are essential qualifiers, they are not the only ones that must be considered. After all, the program you decide on is going to furnish the training that will be the foundation of your new career as a welder. So following are some additional factors you may want to evaluate before selecting a welding vocational school.
Accreditation. It's very important that the welder trade school you decide on is accredited by either a regional or a national organization. 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 specific program the school has, for instance Welding Technology. So verify 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 organization, like the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping ensure that you obtain a superior education, the accreditation may also help in getting financial aid or student loans, which are often not offered in Kodiak AK for non-accredited schools. Finally, for those states or local governments 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 provided combined with an apprenticeship program. Various other schools will help place you in a job or an apprenticeship upon graduation. Find out if the schools you are reviewing help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. The schools should have partnerships 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 assist students in finding employment and develop relationships within the Kodiak AK welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that start an instructional program and complete it. It's important that the welding school you pick has a higher completion rate. A low rate may signify that the students who joined the program were unhappy with the instruction, the teachers, or the facilities, and dropped out. The job placement rate is also a good indicator of the caliber of training. A high job placement rate will not only affirm that the school has a good reputation within the trade, but additionally that it has the network of Kodiak AK employer relationships to help students secure employment or apprenticeships after graduation.
Up-to-date Facilities and Equipment. Once you have narrowed down your selection of welding schools to 2 or 3 possibilities, you should consider visiting the campuses to inspect their facilities. Verify that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are modern. Specifically, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be working with on the job. If you are uncertain what to look for, and are currently in an apprenticeship program, ask the master welder you are working under for guidance. If not, ask a local Kodiak AK welding professional if they can give you a few tips.
School Location. Even though we previously briefly talked about the significance of location, there are a few additional points that we should address. You should keep in mind that unless you are able to move, the welding program you select needs to be within driving distance of your Kodiak AK home. If you do choose to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there might be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially the case for welder certificate programs offered by community colleges. Furthermore, 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 an area or state where you subsequently will desire to work.
Small Classes. One-on-one instruction is essential for a manual trade such as welding. It's easy to be overlooked in larger classes and not obtain much individualized training. Ask what the average class size is for the welding programs you are reviewing. Inquire if you can sit in on some classes so that you can see just how much personal attention the students are receiving. While there, talk with some of the students and get their opinions. Also, talk with a couple of the teachers and ask what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they have earned.
Convenient Class Schedules. Some people learn a new trade while still employed at their current job. Check to see that the class schedules for the schools you are considering are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Kodiak AK, verify that the schools you are reviewing offer those options. If you can only attend part-time, make certain that the school you pick offers part-time enrollment. Also, check to see what the policy is to make up classes if you you miss any because of illness, work or family responsibilities.
Find the Best Kodiak Welding Program for Certification
Selecting the right welding school will undoubtedly be the most important decision you will make to begin your new trade. As we have discussed in this article, there are many factors that you will need to assess and compare between the programs you are looking at. It's a must that any welding training that you are assessing includes a good deal of hands-on training. Classes need to be small in size and each student must have their own welding machine to train on. Classroom teaching should offer a real-world perspective, and the curriculum should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Courses differ in length and the type of credential offered, so you will need to decide what length of program and degree or certificate will best serve your needs. Each program offers different options for certification also. Probably the best means to research your short list of schools is to check out each campus and talk with the teachers and students. Take the time to monitor some classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the school you decide on is the right one for you. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, the final result will be a new trade as a professional welder in Kodiak AK.