How to Select the Best Welder Certificate Program near Kodiak Alaska
Locating the right welder vocational school near Kodiak AK is an important first step to starting your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are so many schools to select from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more significantly, once you have fine tuned your options, how do you pick the right one? Many prospective students start by checking out the schools that are closest to their residences. Once they have located those that are within commuting distance, they gravitate toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and tuition cost are necessary issues when reviewing welding technical 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 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.
Welding Degree and Certificate Training Programs
There are a number of alternatives available to obtain 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 offered in Welding Engineering or Welding Technology, but are more advanced courses than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available along with an apprenticeship program. Below are short descriptions of the most prevalent welding programs offered in the Kodiak AK area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are normally offered by trade and technical schools and take about one year to finish. They are more hands-on training in scope, fashioned primarily to teach welding skills. They can furnish a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or specialized skills for working welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take 2 years to complete and are usually offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology furnishes a more well-rounded education than the certificate or diploma while still providing the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
Some states and municipalities do have licensing prerequisites for welders, so make sure to find out for your location of future employment. If needed, the welder school you choose should prepare you for any licensing exams that you will have to take in addition to providing the suitable training to become a qualified welder.
Welding Certification Choices
There are multiple organizations that offer welding certifications, which test 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 like the American Welding Society (AWS). Different certifications are available based on the kind of work that the welder performs. A few of the things that certification can attest to are the welder's ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specified metal thicknesses
- Work with certain kinds of welds
- Work according to contract specifications
As already stated, some states, cities or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those requiring licensing, many additionally require certification for various kinds of work. Certification is also a way to prove to employers that you are a highly skilled and qualified welder. So just as with licensing, look into the requirements for your local area and confirm that the welder vocational school you choose readies you for certification if needed.
Points to Ask Welder Vocational Programs
Once you have chosen the credential you would like to obtain, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can begin to evaluate schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are numerous welding trade and technical schools in the Kodiak AK area. That's why it's necessary to decide in advance what qualifications your chosen school must have. We have already discussed a couple of important ones that most people look at first, which are location and tuition cost. As stated, although they are essential qualifications, they are not the only ones that should be looked at. After all, the program you select is going to provide the education that will be the foundation of your new vocation as a welder. So below are more factors you might want to evaluate before choosing a welder vocational school.
Accreditation. It's very important that the welder technical school you select is accredited by either a regional or a national organization. There are 2 basic kinds of accreditation. The school may earn Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on an individual program the school has, for example Welding Technology. So make sure that the program you select is accredited, not just the school alone. Also, 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 ensure that you receive an excellent education, the accreditation might also assist in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable in Kodiak AK for schools that are not accredited. 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. Many welder diploma or degree programs are provided in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Other schools will help place you in an apprenticeship or a job upon graduation. Ask if the schools you are looking at assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. These schools should have associations 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 rely upon for referrals. These programs can assist students in finding employment and establish associations within the Kodiak AK welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that enroll in an instructional program and finish it. It's crucial that the welder program you pick has a high completion rate. A reduced rate may signify that the students who were in the program were dissatisfied with the instruction, the instructors, 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 a good reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of Kodiak AK employer relationships to assist students obtain apprenticeships or employment after graduation.
Up-to-date Equipment and Facilities. After you have narrowed down your choice of welder programs to two or three options, you should consider going to the campuses to inspect their facilities. Verify that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be instructed on are up-to-date. In particular, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be using on the job. If you are uncertain 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 professional if they can give you a few pointers.
School Location. Even though we already briefly covered the significance of location, there are a couple of additional points that we should cover. You should keep in mind that unless you can move, the welding program you pick must be within driving distance of your Kodiak AK home. If you do decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides relocation expenses there could be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially the case for welding certificate programs offered by community colleges. Additionally, if the school offers an apprenticeship or job placement program, most likely their placements are within the school's regional community. So the location of the school needs to be in a region or state where you subsequently will desire to work.
Small Classes. Personalized training is important for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's easy to be lost in bigger classes and not obtain much personalized instruction. Ask what the average class size is for the welding schools you are considering. Ask if you can sit in on a couple of classes so that you can witness how much individual attention the students are receiving. While there, speak with a few of the students and get their opinions. Also, speak with a few of the teachers and ask what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they have earned.
Flexible Class Scheduling. 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 reviewing are convenient enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Kodiak AK, make sure that the schools you are looking at offer those alternatives. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the school you pick offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the policy is to make up classes if you you miss any because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Find the Best Kodiak Welding School for Certification
Selecting the ideal welding school will probably be the most critical decision you will make to begin your new trade. As we have covered in this article, there are a number of factors that you will need to examine and compare among the schools you are looking at. It's a must that any welder school that you are assessing includes a good deal of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be smaller in size and each student should have their personal welding machine to train with. Classroom teaching should offer a real-world perspective, and the curriculum should be current and in-line with industry standards. Programs differ in length and the type of credential offered, so you will need to decide what length of program and certificate or degree will best fulfill your needs. Each training program offers unique options for certification as well. Probably the best approach to research your final list of schools is to check out each campus and talk with the students and faculty. Take the time to monitor a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the training program you choose is the best one for you. With the right training, effort and commitment, the final outcome will be a new career as a professional welder in Kodiak AK.