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How to Choose the Right Welder Training 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 starting your new career as a professional welder. But since there are so many schools to select from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more notably, once you have fine tuned your options, how do you pick the best one? A number of people begin by reviewing the schools that are closest to their residences. Once they have located those that are within driving distance, they gravitate toward the least expensive one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are necessary issues when examining welder technical schools, but they are not the only ones. Other factors include such things as accreditation, reputation and job placement rates. So before beginning your search for a trade school to become a welder, it's wise 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.

Welding Degree and Certificate Training Programs

Lakes Alaska welder welding in metal shop

There are several alternatives available to obtain training as a welder in a trade or technical school. You can earn a diploma, a certificate or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are offered in Welding Technology or Welding Engineering, 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 brief explanations of the most prevalent welding programs available in the Lakes AK area.

  • Diploma and Certificate Programs are usually offered by trade and technical schools and require about one year to finish. They are more hands-on training in scope, fashioned primarily to develop welding skills. They can provide a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or additional skills for experienced welders.
  • Associate Degree Programs will take two years to finish and are most often offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology provides a more well-rounded education than the diploma or certificate while still furnishing the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.

Many municipalities and states do have licensing prerequisites for welders, therefore be sure to find out for your location of future employment. If required, the welding school you select should prepare you for any licensing exams that you will have to pass in addition to supplying the suitable training to become a qualified welder.

Welding Certification Options

Lakes Alaska welder welding metal table

There are various institutions that provide welding certifications, which test the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Many Lakes AK employers not only require a certificate or degree from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a highly regarded organization like the American Welding Society (AWS). A wide range of certifications are offered dependent on the type of work that the welder performs. Some of the skills that certification can attest to are the welder's ability to

  • Operate in compliance with specific codes
  • Work with certain metal thicknesses
  • Work with specific types of welds
  • Perform according to contract specifications

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

Points to Ask Welding Technical Schools

Lakes Alaska welder welding metal electrical pole

Once you have chosen the credential you want to attain, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can begin to compare schools. As you probably know, there are numerous welder vocational and trade schools in the Lakes AK area. That's why it's necessary to determine in advance what qualifications your selected school must have. We have already discussed two significant ones that most people consider 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 school you pick is going to provide the instruction that will be the foundation of your new profession as a welder. So following are some additional factors you might need to consider before choosing a welder vocational school.

Accreditation. It's very important that the welder vocational school you choose is accredited by either a national or a regional agency. There are two basic types of accreditation. The school may earn Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a single program the school offers, 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 organization, such as the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). In addition to helping make sure that you get a quality education, the accreditation can also assist in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases not available in Lakes AK for non-accredited schools. Also, for those states or municipalities that require licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited as well.

Job Assistance and Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous welding certificate or degree programs are offered combined with an apprenticeship program. Some other schools will help place you in a job or an apprenticeship upon graduation. Ask if the schools you are looking at assist 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 place their students. More established 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 Lakes AK welding community.

Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that begin an instructional program and complete it. It's essential that the welding school you choose has a higher completion rate. A low rate could indicate that the students who enrolled in the program were unhappy with the instruction, the teachers, or the facilities, and dropped out. The job placement rate is also an indication of the caliber of training. A high job placement rate will not only confirm that the school has a good reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of Lakes AK contacts to assist students secure employment or apprenticeships after graduation.

Up-to-date Facilities and Equipment. Once you have limited your selection of welding schools to 2 or 3 possibilities, you should consider going to the campuses to evaluate their facilities. Verify that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be trained on are up-to-date. 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, ask the master welder you are working under for guidance. If not, ask a local Lakes AK welding contractor if they can give you some tips.

School Location. Although we already briefly discussed the relevance of location, there are a few additional points that we need to cover. You should keep in mind that unless you are able to relocate, the welding school you pick must be within driving distance of your Lakes AK home. If you do decide to attend an out-of-state school, apart from relocation costs there could be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly the case for welder diploma programs offered by community colleges. Additionally, if the school provides an apprenticeship or job placement program, most likely their placements are within the school's local community. So the location of the school should be in an area or state where you ultimately will desire to work.

Small Classes. One-on-one instruction is essential for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's possible to be overlooked in larger classes and not obtain much individualized training. Find out what the average class size is for the welder programs you are reviewing. Ask if you can sit in on a few classes so that you can observe how much individual attention the students are getting. While there, talk with several of the students and get their evaluations. Also, speak with a few of the trainers and find out what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they hold.

Flexible Class Schedules. Lots of folks learn a new trade while still working at their current job. Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are looking at are convenient enough to satisfy your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Lakes AK, verify that the schools you are reviewing provide those options. If you can only enroll part-time, make sure that the school you choose offers part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the protocol is to make up classes if you you miss any due to work, illness or family responsibilities.

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Choose the Right Lakes Welding Program for Certification

Selecting the ideal welder school 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 factors that you will need to evaluate and compare among the schools you are considering. It's a necessity that any welder training program that you are assessing includes a good deal of hands-on training. Classes should be smaller in size and each 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. Programs vary in duration and the type of credential provided, so you will need to decide what length of program and credential will best fulfill your needs. Each training program provides different options for certification as well. Perhaps The ideal means to research your final list of schools is to visit each campus and speak with the students and instructors. Invest some time to attend some classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the school you choose is the right one for you. With the right training, hard work and commitment, the final result will be a new trade as a professional welder in Lakes AK.

 

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