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How to Select the Best Welder Trade School near Lakes Alaska

Lakes Alaska construction welder at work siteSelecting the ideal welder school near Lakes AK is an essential first step to beginning your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are so many schools to pick from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more significantly, once you have fine tuned your alternatives, how do you pick the right one? Most prospective students start by checking out the schools that are closest to their homes. When they have identified those that are within commuting distance, they are drawn toward the least expensive one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are important issues when reviewing welder technical schools, but they are not the only ones. Other concerns include such things as accreditation, reputation and job placement rates. So before starting your search for a vocational school to become a welder, it's sensible to develop a list of qualifications that your selected school must have. But before we explore our due diligence checklist, let's talk a little bit about how to become a welder.

Welding Degree and Certificate Training Classes

Lakes Alaska welder working in metal shop

There are a number of options available to get training as a welder in a trade or vocational 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 programs than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available combined with an apprenticeship program. Following are brief explanations of the most typical welding programs offered in the Lakes AK area.

  • Certificate and Diploma Programs are normally made available by technical and trade schools and require about one year to complete. They are more hands-on training in scope, created mainly 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 two years to complete and are usually offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology offers a more extensive education than the diploma or certificate while still furnishing the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.

Many municipalities and states do have licensing prerequisites for welders, so be sure to check for your location of future employment. If required, the welder school you select should ready you for any licensing exams that you will have to take in addition to providing the appropriate training to become a qualified welder.

Welding Certification Choices

Lakes Alaska welder welding metal table

There are multiple institutions that provide welding certifications, which test the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Numerous Lakes AK employers not only expect 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 dependent on the kind of work that the welder performs. Just some of the skills that certification can acknowledge are the welder's ability to

  • Work in compliance with specific codes
  • Work with specified metal thicknesses
  • Work with specific kinds of welds
  • Perform based on contract specifications

As earlier stated, many cities, states or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those requiring licensing, a number additionally require certification for different kinds of work. Certification is also a way to prove to employers that you are an exceptionally skilled and knowledgeable welder. So just as with licensing, look into the requirements for your local area and make sure that the welder tech school you select prepares you for certification if needed.

What to Ask Welder Tech Programs

Lakes Alaska welder welding electrical beam

After you have decided on the credential you want to attain, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can begin to assess schools. As you probably know, there are many welding trade and vocational schools in the Lakes AK area. That's why it's important to determine up front what qualifications your chosen school must have. We have previously covered two important ones that most 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 need to be looked at. After all, the program you decide on is going to provide the education that will be the foundation of your new career as a welder. So following are some additional factors you might want to evaluate before choosing a welder tech school.

Accreditation. It's essential that the welding technical school you pick is accredited by either a national or a regional agency. There are 2 standard types 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 verify 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, for example the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). In addition to helping make sure that you get a superior education, the accreditation can also assist in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently not offered in Lakes 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 as well.

Job Placement and Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of welder diploma or degree programs are provided in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Some other schools will assist in placing you in an apprenticeship or a job upon graduation. Ask if the schools you are looking at help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. These schools should have partnerships with local unions and other metal working businesses to which they can place their students. Older schools may have a more substantial network of graduates that they can utilize for placements. These programs can help students find employment and establish associations within the Lakes AK welding community.

Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that enroll in an academic program and finish it. It's crucial that the welding school you select has a high completion rate. A lower rate might indicate that the students who enrolled in the program were dissatisfied with the training, 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 school has a good reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of Lakes AK contacts to help students obtain employment or apprenticeships after graduation.

Up-to-date Equipment and Facilities. After you have limited your choice of welding schools to two or three options, you should consider going to the campuses to evaluate their facilities. Confirm that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are modern. Specifically, the training equipment should be comparable to what you will be using on the job. If you are not sure 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 Lakes AK welding professional if they can give you some pointers.

School Location. Even though we previously briefly covered the significance of location, there are a few additional issues that we need to deal with. You should remember that unless you can move, the welding school you select must be within commuting distance of your Lakes AK home. If you do opt to enroll in an out-of-state school, apart from moving expenses there might be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly true for welding diploma programs offered by community colleges. Also, if the school provides a job placement or apprenticeship program, often their placements are within the school's local community. So the location of the school needs to be in an area or state where you ultimately will want to work.

Smaller Classes. One-on-one training is important for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's easy to be lost in larger classes and not get much personalized training. Ask what the usual class size is for the welder schools you are reviewing. Ask if you can sit in on some classes so that you can observe just how much personal attention the students are getting. While there, talk with some of the students and get their evaluations. Also, talk to a few of the teachers and find out what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they have earned.

Convenient Class Scheduling. Many people learn a new profession while still employed at their current job. Make sure that the class schedules for the schools you are reviewing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Lakes AK, make sure that the schools you are reviewing offer those alternatives. If you can only enroll part-time, confirm that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the policy is to make up classes if you you miss any due to illness, work or family responsibilities.

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Find the Best Lakes Welding Course for Certification

Picking the best welding training program will probably be the most critical decision you will make to start your new career. As we have covered in this article, there are many things that you will need to evaluate and compare among the programs you are reviewing. It's a prerequisite that any welder school that you are reviewing includes a lot of hands-on instruction. Classes should be smaller in size and each student must have their own welding machine to train with. Classroom teaching should offer a real-world perspective, and the curriculum should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Training programs vary in length and the type of credential provided, so you will need to ascertain what length of program and degree or certificate will best satisfy your needs. Every program offers different possibilities for certification as well. Probably the best approach to research your short list of schools is to go to each campus and speak with the students and instructors. Invest some time to sit in on a few classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the program you choose is the best one for you. With the proper training, hard work and dedication, the final outcome will be a new occupation as a professional welder in Lakes AK.

 

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