How to Choose the Right Welding Vocational School near Meadow Lakes Alaska
Finding the ideal welding technical school near Meadow Lakes AK is an important first step to starting your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are a lot of schools to pick from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more notably, once you have fine tuned your options, how do you pick the right one? Most prospective students start by reviewing the schools that are nearest to their homes. When they have located those that are within commuting distance, they gravitate toward the least costly one. Yes, location and tuition cost are necessary issues when reviewing 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 establish a list of qualifications that your chosen 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 Programs
There are a number of options to receive training as a welder in a trade or technical school. You can obtain 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 offered along with an apprenticeship program. Following are short explanations of the most common welding programs available in the Meadow Lakes AK area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are normally made available by technical and trade schools and take about a year to complete. They are more hands-on training in scope, designed largely to develop welding skills. They can furnish 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 extensive education than the certificate or diploma while still providing the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
Some states and municipalities do have licensing prerequisites for welders, so don't forget to find out for your location of potential employment. If needed, the welder school you pick should prepare you for any licensing examinations that you will have to pass in addition to furnishing the appropriate training to become a professional welder.
Welding Certification Options
There are several institutions that offer welding certifications, which test the knowledge and skill level of those applying. A large number of Meadow Lakes AK employers not only require a certificate or degree from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a respected agency such as the American Welding Society (AWS). Different certifications are offered based on the kind of work that the welder does. Some of the things that certification can acknowledge are the welder's ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with certain metal thicknesses
- Work with certain types of welds
- Perform according to contract specifications
As formerly mentioned, various states, cities or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those requiring licensing, some also require certification for various kinds of work. Certification is also a means to prove to employers that you are an exceptionally skilled and experienced welder. So similarly as with licensing, check the requirements for your location and verify that the welder vocational school you select prepares you for certification if needed.
Subjects to Ask Welding Technical Programs
When you have decided on the credential you would like to obtain, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can start to evaluate schools. As you can imagine, there are many welder trade and technical schools in the Meadow Lakes AK area. That's why it's essential to decide up front what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have already covered 2 significant ones that most people look at first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As mentioned, although they are very important qualifiers, they are not the only ones that need to be considered. After all, the program you pick is going to provide the instruction that will be the foundation of your new vocation as a welder. So below are more factors you may want to consider before choosing a welding vocational school.
Accreditation. It's extremely important that the welding trade school you select is accredited by either a national or a regional agency. There are 2 basic kinds of accreditation. The school may receive Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on an individual program the school offers, for example Welding Technology. So make certain that the program you choose is accredited, not just the school alone. Additionally, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, such as the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). In addition to helping ensure that you receive a quality education, the accreditation may also help in getting financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently not offered in Meadow 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 also.
Job Assistance and Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous welding degree or diploma programs are offered combined 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 assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. The schools must 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 referrals. These programs can assist students in finding 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 begin an instructional program and complete it. It's crucial that the welding school you select has a high completion rate. A reduced rate might mean that the students who joined the program were unhappy with the instruction, the instructors, or the facilities, and quit. The job placement rate is also an indication of the caliber of training. A high job placement rate will not only confirm that the program has an excellent reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of Meadow Lakes AK contacts to help students obtain employment or apprenticeships upon graduation.
Modern Facilities and Equipment. Once you have narrowed down your selection of welder schools to two or three possibilities, you should think out going to the campuses to inspect their facilities. Confirm that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be taught on are up-to-date. In particular, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be using in the field. If you are not sure what to look for, and are currently in an apprenticeship program, consult with the master welder you are working under for guidance. If not, ask a local Meadow Lakes AK welding contractor if they can give you a few suggestions.
School Location. Although we already briefly covered the significance of location, there are a couple of additional issues that we should deal with. You should keep in mind that unless you can move, the welding program you select needs to be within commuting distance of your Meadow Lakes AK home. If you do choose to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides moving costs there might be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially the case for welding certificate programs offered by community colleges. Additionally, if the school offers a job placement or apprenticeship program, more than likely their placements are within the school's local community. So the location of the school needs to be in a region or state where you ultimately will want to work.
Smaller Classes. One-on-one instruction is essential for a manual trade such as welding. It's possible to be overlooked in larger classes and not obtain much one-on-one training. Find out what the typical class size is for the welding schools you are reviewing. Ask if you can attend a few classes so that you can experience just how much personal attention the students are getting. While there, talk with a few of the students and get their feedback. Also, talk to some of the trainers and find out what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they have earned.
Flexible Class Schedules. Lots of folks learn a new trade while still employed at their present job. Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are convenient enough to fulfill 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 assessing provide those options. If you can only enroll part-time, verify that the school you decide on offers part-time enrollment. Also, check to see what the protocol is to make up classes if you you miss any due to work, sickness or family responsibilities.
Choose the Right Meadow Lakes Welding Course for Certification
Choosing the right welder 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 a number of things that you will need to evaluate and compare between the schools you are reviewing. It's a must that any welder school that you are reviewing 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 needs to offer a real-world context, and the curriculum should be current and in-line with industry standards. Courses vary in length and the type of credential offered, so you will have to determine what length of program and degree or certificate will best fulfill your needs. Every training program provides different options for certification also. Perhaps The ideal way to research your final list of schools is to visit each campus and talk with the faculty and students. Invest some time to sit in on some classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the school you select is the best one for you. With the right training, effort and commitment, the end outcome will be a new trade as a professional welder in Meadow Lakes AK.