How to Find the Right Welding Degree Program near Meadow Lakes Alaska
Finding the ideal welding trade school near Meadow Lakes AK is an important first step to beginning your new career as a professional welder. But since there are numerous schools to select from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more importantly, once you have narrowed down your choices, how do you select the right one? A number of people start by checking out the schools that are nearest to their homes. When they have located those that are within driving distance, they are drawn toward the least costly one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are necessary concerns when examining welding technical schools, but they are not the only ones. Other considerations include such things as accreditation, reputation and job placement rates. So before starting your search for a trade school to become a welder, it's prudent to create a list of qualifications that your selected school must have. But before we delve into our due diligence checklist, let's cover a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welder Degree and Certificate Training Classes
There are a number of options 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 combined with an apprenticeship program. Below are brief descriptions of the most common welding programs offered in the Meadow Lakes AK area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are generally made available by technical and trade schools and take about one year to finish. They are more hands-on training in scope, designed mainly to develop welding skills. They can furnish a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or supplemental 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 offers a more extensive education than the certificate or diploma while still furnishing the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
Some states and municipalities do have licensing requirements for welders, so don't forget to check for your location of future employment. If needed, the welder school you pick should prep you for any licensing examinations that you will have to pass in addition to providing the proper training to become a professional welder.
Welder Certification Alternatives
There are various institutions that offer welding certifications, which assess the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Many Meadow Lakes AK employers not only expect a certificate or degree from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a highly regarded agency such as the American Welding Society (AWS). A variety of certifications are available dependent on the type of work that the welder does. 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 certain types of welds
- Work in compliance with contract specifications
As already mentioned, various cities, states or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those calling for licensing, many additionally require certification for different types of work. Certification is also a means to demonstrate to employers that you are an exceptionally skilled and knowledgeable welder. So similarly as with licensing, look into the requirements for your location and make sure that the welding trade school you select preps you for certification if needed.
Subjects to Ask Welder Trade Schools
After you have decided on the credential you would like to attain, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can begin to compare schools. As you probably know, there are a large number of welder vocational and trade schools in the Meadow Lakes AK area. That's why it's essential to decide in advance what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have previously discussed a couple of important ones that many people consider first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As stated, although they are very important qualifiers, they are not the only ones that need to be looked at. After all, the school you pick is going to furnish the education that will be the foundation of your new career as a welder. So following are more factors you might want to evaluate before picking a welding vocational school.
Accreditation. It's extremely important that the welder vocational school you decide on is accredited by either a national or a regional organization. There are two basic kinds of accreditation. The school may attain Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a specific program the school has, for example Welding Technology. So make sure that the program you choose is accredited, not just the school alone. Also, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, like the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). In addition to helping ensure that you obtain an excellent education, the accreditation might also help in securing financial aid or student loans, which are frequently unavailable in Meadow Lakes AK for schools that are not accredited. Finally, for those states or local governments that require licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited as well.
Apprenticeship and Job Assistance Programs. Numerous welder certificate or degree programs are provided in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Other schools will assist in placing you in a job or an apprenticeship upon graduation. Ask if the schools you are reviewing assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. The schools should have associations with local unions and various metal working businesses to which they can place their students. More established 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 Meadow Lakes AK welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that start an academic program and finish it. It's crucial that the welder school you pick has a higher completion rate. A low rate might mean that the students who joined the program were unhappy with the instruction, the instructors, or the facilities, and dropped out. The job placement rate is also a good indicator of the caliber of training. A higher job placement rate will not only affirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of Meadow Lakes AK employer relationships to help students obtain apprenticeships or employment after graduation.
Up-to-date Facilities and Equipment. Once you have limited your selection of welder programs to two or three possibilities, you should think out going to the campuses to look over their facilities. Confirm that both the equipment and the facilities 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 Meadow Lakes AK welding contractor if they can give you some tips.
School Location. Although we already briefly discussed the significance of location, there are a couple of additional issues that we need to deal with. You should keep in mind that unless you can relocate, the welder program you pick needs to be within driving distance of your Meadow Lakes AK home. If you do decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, apart from moving expenses there could be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly the case for welding degree 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 wish to work.
Small Classes. Personalized training is essential for a manual trade such as welding. It's possible to get lost in larger classes and not receive much one-on-one instruction. Find out what the typical class size is for the welding schools you are looking at. Inquire 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, talk with some of the teachers and find out what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they hold.
Convenient Class Scheduling. Lots of folks learn a new profession while still employed at their present job. Check to see that the class schedules for the schools you are considering are flexible enough to satisfy your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Meadow Lakes AK, make sure that the schools you are reviewing offer those choices. If you can only attend part-time, make certain 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 work, illness or family circumstances.
Find the Right Meadow Lakes Welding Program for Certification
Choosing the right welding school will undoubtedly 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 examine and compare between the schools you are looking at. It's a must that any welder training that you are assessing includes a lot of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be small in size and each student should have their own welding machine to train with. Classroom teaching should offer a real-world frame of reference, and the course of study should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Programs vary in duration and the kind of credential provided, so you will need to determine what length of program and credential will best fulfill your needs. Every program provides different options for certification as well. Probably the best approach to research your short list of schools is to visit each campus and speak with the students and faculty. Take the time to attend a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the training program you choose is the right one for you. With the right training, hard work and commitment, the end outcome will be a new career as a professional welder in Meadow Lakes AK.