How to Choose the Best Welder Certification Classes 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 so many schools to choose from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more notably, once you have fine tuned your alternatives, how do you select the right one? Many prospective students begin by reviewing the schools that are nearest to their homes. When they have found those that are within commuting distance, they gravitate toward the least costly one. Yes, location and tuition cost are important considerations when evaluating welding vocational schools, but they are not the only ones. Other considerations 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 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 Certificate and Degree Training
There are multiple options available to get training as a welder in a trade or vocational school. You can receive a diploma, a certificate or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are available in Welding Engineering or Welding Technology, but are more advanced programs than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Following are short descriptions of the most typical welding programs available in the Meadow Lakes AK area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are generally made available by trade and technical schools and require about a year to complete. They are more hands-on training in nature, fashioned primarily to teach welding skills. They can provide a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or specialized skills for experienced welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take 2 years to finish and are usually offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology offers a more well-rounded education than the diploma or certificate while still providing the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
A number of municipalities and states do have licensing requirements for welders, therefore be sure to check for your location of future employment. If required, the welding school you choose should prepare you for any licensing exams that you will have to pass in addition to furnishing the appropriate training to become a professional welder.
Welding Certification Choices
There are several institutions that offer welding certifications, which assess the knowledge and skill level of those applying. Numerous Meadow Lakes AK employers not only expect a certificate or degree from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a respected agency like 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 things that certification can attest to are the welder's ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specified metal thicknesses
- Work with specific kinds of welds
- Work in compliance with contract specifications
As formerly stated, some states, cities or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those mandating licensing, a number also require certification for various kinds of work. Certification is also a way to prove to employers that you are an exceptionally skilled and qualified welder. So just as with licensing, check the requirements for your location and make sure that the welder vocational school you choose preps you for certification as needed.
Points to Ask Welder Tech Schools
After you have decided on the credential you would like 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 welder vocational and trade schools in the Meadow Lakes AK area. That's why it's necessary to establish up front what qualifications your chosen school must have. We have already covered 2 significant ones that most people look at first, which are location and tuition cost. As mentioned, although they are very important qualifications, they are not the only ones that should be considered. After all, the school you decide on is going to provide the instruction that will be the foundation of your new career as a welder. So below are more factors you might need to consider before choosing a welder tech school.
Accreditation. It's essential that the welding technical school you choose is accredited by either a regional or a national 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 has, such as Welding Technology. So make certain that the program you select is accredited, not just the school alone. Additionally, 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 get a quality education, the accreditation might also help in getting financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases not offered 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 also.
Job Assistance and Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous welder degree or certificate programs are offered 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 looking at 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 refer their students. Older schools may have a more substantial network of graduates that they can utilize for placements. These programs can help students find employment and develop associations within the Meadow Lakes AK welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that enroll in an academic program and complete it. It's crucial that the welding program you choose has a high completion rate. A lower rate could signify that the students who were in 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 higher job placement rate will not only confirm that the school has a good reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of Meadow Lakes AK employer relationships to help students secure apprenticeships or employment upon graduation.
Up-to-date Facilities and Equipment. Once you have decreased your choice of welder programs to two or three options, you should think out going to the campuses to inspect their facilities. Verify that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are modern. In particular, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be using on the job. If you are not sure what to look for, and are already 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 suggestions.
School Location. Although we previously briefly discussed the importance of location, there are a few additional points that we need to address. You should keep in mind that unless you can relocate, the welding school you choose must be within commuting distance of your Meadow Lakes AK home. If you do opt to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides moving expenses there could be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially the case for welder diploma programs offered by community colleges. Furthermore, if the school provides a job placement or apprenticeship program, more than likely their placements are within the school's local community. So the location of the school should be in a region or state where you subsequently will desire to work.
Small Classes. Personalized training is essential for a manual trade such as welding. It's easy to be lost in bigger classes and not obtain much one-on-one instruction. Find out what the typical class size is for the welder schools you are considering. Ask if you can sit in on a couple of classes so that you can see how much individual attention the students are receiving. While there, speak with a few of the students and get their evaluations. Similarly, speak with a few of the trainers and ask what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they hold.
Flexible Class Scheduling. Lots of folks learn a new trade while still working at their present job. Confirm that the class schedules for the schools you are reviewing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Meadow Lakes AK, make sure that the schools you are looking at provide those choices. If you can only attend part-time, confirm that the school you pick offers part-time enrollment. Also, check to see what the policy is to make up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family responsibilities.
Choose the Best Meadow Lakes Welding School for Certification
Choosing the right welder school will probably be the most important decision you will make to start your new profession. As we have discussed in this article, there are many things that you will need to examine and compare among the schools you are considering. It's a necessity that any welder training that you are examining includes a lot of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be small in size and every student must have their personal welding machine to train on. Classroom education needs to offer a real-world context, and the training program should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Courses differ in length and the type of credential provided, so you will have to determine what length of program and credential will best serve your needs. Each program provides unique options for certification as well. Perhaps The ideal way to research your short list of schools is to check out each campus and speak with the teachers and students. Invest some time to monitor some classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the school you choose is the best one for you. With the proper training, effort and dedication, the final outcome will be a new career as a professional welder in Meadow Lakes AK.