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How to Pick the Right Welder Training Classes near Lakes Alaska

Lakes Alaska construction welder on the jobLocating the right welder trade school near Lakes AK is an essential first step to beginning your new career as a professional welder. But since there are a lot of schools to select from, how do you know 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 start by looking at the schools that are closest to their residences. When they have located those that are within commuting distance, they gravitate toward the least costly one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are important issues when examining welder trade 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 chosen 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 Classes

Lakes Alaska welder working in fabrication shop

There are a number of options available to obtain training as a welder in a trade or vocational school. You can obtain a a certificate, a diploma or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are available in Welding Technology or Welding Engineering, but are more advanced courses than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Following are brief explanations of the most typical welding programs available in the Lakes AK area.

  • Diploma and Certificate Programs are generally made available by technical and trade schools and require about one year to finish. They are more hands-on training in nature, fashioned 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 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 supplying the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.

A number of states and municipalities do have licensing requirements for welders, therefore make sure to check for your location of potential employment. As needed, the welding school you select should prepare you for any licensing examinations that you will need to take in addition to supplying the appropriate training to become a qualified welder.

Welder Certification Options

Lakes Alaska welder welding metal table

There are various organizations that offer welder certifications, which evaluate the knowledge and skill level of those applying. A large number of Lakes AK employers not only demand a degree or certificate from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a respected organization like the American Welding Society (AWS). A variety of certifications are offered dependent on the kind of work that the welder performs. Some of the things that certification can attest to are the welder's ability to

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

As already mentioned, many states, cities or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those requiring licensing, many also require certification for various types 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, check the requirements for your location and make sure that the welder technical school you choose readies you for certification as needed.

Subjects to Ask Welding Trade Schools

Lakes Alaska welder welding electrical pole

When you have decided on the credential you want to obtain, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can start to compare schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are a large number of welding vocational and trade schools in the Lakes AK area. That's why it's necessary to establish up front what qualifications your chosen school must have. We have already discussed two significant ones that many people look at 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 looked at. After all, the school you select is going to furnish the education that will be the foundation of your new profession as a welder. So following are some additional factors you might want to evaluate before selecting a welding tech school.

Accreditation. It's essential that the welder vocational school you select is accredited by either a regional or a national agency. There are two standard types of accreditation. The school may receive Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a specific program the school has, for instance Welding Technology. So make certain that the program you select is accredited, not just the school alone. Also, 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). In addition to helping ensure that you obtain a superior education, the accreditation can also help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not offered in Lakes AK for schools that are not accredited. Also, 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 degree or certificate programs are provided combined with an apprenticeship program. Various other schools will assist in placing you in an apprenticeship or a job upon graduation. Ask if the schools you are considering assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. These schools must 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 assist students in finding employment and develop associations within the Lakes AK welding community.

Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that begin an educational program and finish it. It's crucial that the welder school you select has a higher completion rate. A low rate may indicate that the students who enrolled in the program were dissatisfied with the training, the teachers, or the facilities, and quit. The job placement rate is also an indication of the quality of training. A high job placement rate will not only verify that the school has an excellent reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of Lakes AK contacts to assist students secure apprenticeships or employment upon graduation.

Modern Equipment and Facilities. Once you have decreased your choice of welding schools to 2 or 3 options, you should think out going to the campuses to inspect their facilities. Confirm that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be taught on are modern. Specifically, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be working with in the field. If you are uncertain what to look for, and are already in an apprenticeship program, consult with 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 already briefly discussed the significance of location, there are a few additional points that we need to address. You should bear in mind that unless you are able to relocate, the welder school you select needs to be within driving distance of your Lakes AK home. If you do choose to enroll in an out-of-state school, apart from relocation costs there might be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly the case for welder certificate programs offered by community colleges. Additionally, if the school provides an apprenticeship or job placement program, often 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.

Small Classes. One-on-one instruction is important for a manual trade such as welding. It's possible to be lost in bigger classes and not obtain much one-on-one training. Find out what the typical class size is for the welding schools you are looking at. Ask if you can sit in on a couple of classes so that you can witness how much personal attention the students are getting. While there, speak with some of the students and get their opinions. Also, talk with some of the instructors and ask what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they hold.

Flexible Class Schedules. Many people learn a new trade while still employed at their current job. Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are looking at are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Lakes AK, confirm that the schools you are assessing provide those choices. If you can only attend part-time, verify that the school you pick offers part-time enrollment. Also, check to see what the protocol is to make up classes if you you miss any due to work, illness or family emergencies.

Learn More About Lakes Welder Schools

Choose the Right Lakes Welding School for Certification

Choosing the right welding training program will probably be the most critical decision you will make to begin your new trade. As we have addressed in this article, there are several things that you will need to evaluate and compare among the schools you are reviewing. It's a must that any welding training that you are evaluating includes a considerable amount of hands-on instruction. Classes should be small in size and every student must have their own welding machine to train on. Classroom instruction should provide a real-world context, and the course of study should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Courses vary in duration and the type of credential offered, so you will have to decide what length of program and degree or certificate will best serve your needs. Each program provides unique options for certification as well. Perhaps the best means 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 sure that you are confident that the training program 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 Lakes AK.

 

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