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How to Choose the Best Welding Degree Program near Lakes Alaska

Lakes Alaska construction welder on the jobEnrolling in the ideal welder trade school near Lakes AK is an important first step to beginning your new occupation 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 pick the best one? Most people begin by reviewing the schools that are nearest to their residences. Once they have found those that are within commuting distance, they are drawn toward the least costly one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are necessary considerations when reviewing welding trade schools, but they are not the only ones. Other considerations include such things as reputation, accreditation and job placement rates. So before initiating your search for a vocational school to become a welder, it's prudent to develop 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.

Welder Degree and Certificate Training Courses

Lakes Alaska welder working in fabrication shop

There are multiple alternatives available to receive 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 offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Below are brief explanations of the most typical welding programs offered in the Lakes AK area.

  • Diploma and Certificate Programs are normally made available by technical and trade schools and take about 1 year to finish. They are more hands-on training in scope, created mainly to teach 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 most often offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology furnishes a more extensive education than the certificate or diploma while still providing the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.

Some municipalities and states do have licensing prerequisites for welders, so make sure to check for your location of potential employment. As needed, the welding school you choose should prep you for any licensing exams that you will have to pass in addition to providing the suitable training to become a qualified welder.

Welding Certification Options

Lakes Alaska welder welding metal table

There are various organizations 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 school, but also certification from a renowned organization like the American Welding Society (AWS). A wide range of certifications are available based upon the type of work that the welder does. Some of the skills that certification can attest to are the welder's ability to

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

As earlier stated, some cities, states or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those calling for licensing, a number additionally require certification for various types of work. Certification is also a way to demonstrate to employers that you are an extremely skilled and experienced welder. So just as with licensing, check the requirements for your local area and confirm that the welder vocational school you select readies you for certification if needed.

Subjects to Ask Welder Trade Schools

Lakes Alaska electrician welding electrical beam

Once you have decided on the credential you would like to obtain, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can start to compare schools. As you can imagine, there are many welding vocational and trade schools in the Lakes AK area. That's why it's essential to determine in advance what qualifications your chosen school must have. We have previously discussed 2 important ones that many people consider first, which are location and tuition cost. As mentioned, 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 training that will be the foundation of your new vocation as a welder. So following are some additional factors you may need to consider before selecting a welder trade school.

Accreditation. It's very important that the welding vocational school you choose is accredited by either a regional or a national agency. There are 2 standard types 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, such as Welding Technology. So make certain that the program you pick is accredited, not just the school itself. Also, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, like 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 often not available in Lakes AK for schools that are not accredited. Finally, for those states or local governments that mandate licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited as well.

Job Placement and Apprenticeship Programs. Many welder degree or certificate programs are provided in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Some other schools will assist in placing you in a job or an apprenticeship after 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 various metal working businesses to which they can refer their students. Older schools may have a larger network of graduates that they can rely upon for placements. These programs can help students find employment and establish relationships within the Lakes AK welding community.

Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that start an academic program and complete it. It's important that the welding program you choose has a high completion rate. A low rate may signify that the students who were in the program were dissatisfied with the training, the teachers, or the facilities, and quit. The job placement rate is also a good indicator of the caliber of training. A higher job placement rate will not only verify that the school has a good reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of Lakes AK employer relationships to help students secure apprenticeships or employment after graduation.

Modern Facilities and Equipment. Once you have decreased your choice of welder schools to 2 or 3 possibilities, you should think out going to the campuses to evaluate their facilities. Make sure that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are modern. Specifically, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be using 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 Lakes AK welding contractor if they can give you some pointers.

School Location. Even though we previously briefly covered the importance of location, there are a couple of additional issues that we need to address. You should bear in mind that unless you have the ability to move, the welder program you pick needs to be within commuting distance of your Lakes AK home. If you do choose to attend an out-of-state school, besides relocation expenses there may be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly the case for welding certificate programs offered by community colleges. Additionally, if the school provides a job placement or apprenticeship program, often their placements are within the school's regional community. So the location of the school should be in an area or state where you subsequently will desire to work.

Smaller Classes. Individualized instruction is important for a manual trade such as welding. It's possible to be lost in bigger classes and not get much one-on-one instruction. Ask what the usual class size is for the welder schools you are looking at. Ask if you can attend a couple of classes so that you can experience how much personal attention the students are receiving. While there, talk with some of the students and get their feedback. Similarly, speak with a few of the instructors and ask what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they hold.

Convenient Class Schedules. Some people learn a new trade while still working at their present job. Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are looking at are flexible enough to satisfy your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Lakes AK, make sure that the schools you are assessing offer those choices. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you decide on offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the policy is to make up classes should you miss any due to illness, work or family emergencies.

Learn More About Lakes Welder Schools

Choose the Right Lakes Welding Program for Certification

Choosing the ideal welder school will undoubtedly be the most critical decision you will make to start your new career. 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 necessity that any welding school that you are assessing includes a good deal of hands-on instruction. Classes should be small in size and each student must have their own welding machine to train on. Classroom education should provide a real-world perspective, and the course of study should be current and conform with industry standards. Programs differ in duration and the kind of credential provided, so you will need to determine what length of program and certificate or degree will best serve your needs. Every training program offers unique options for certification also. Perhaps the best means to research your final list of schools is to go to each campus and speak with the faculty and students. Invest some time to sit in on a few classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the program you pick is the ideal one for you. With the proper training, effort and dedication, the final outcome will be a new trade as a professional welder in Lakes AK.

 

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