How to Select the Right Welder Certification Course near Nikiski Alaska
Locating the right welding school near Nikiski AK is an important first step to beginning your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are so many schools to select from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more importantly, once you have narrowed down your choices, how do you pick the best one? Many prospective students begin by reviewing the schools that are closest to their homes. Once they have located those that are within driving distance, they are drawn toward the least expensive one. Yes, location and tuition cost are crucial concerns when examining welding vocational schools, but they are not the only ones. Other concerns include such things as reputation, accreditation and job placement rates. So before beginning 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 examine our due diligence checklist, let's talk a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welder Certificate and Degree Training Courses
There are several alternatives available to receive training as a welder in a technical or trade school. You can earn 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 made available combined with an apprenticeship program. Below are brief descriptions of the most prevalent welding programs offered in the Nikiski AK area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are normally offered by trade and technical schools and take about one year to complete. They are more hands-on training in scope, created primarily to develop welding skills. They can furnish a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or specialized skills for working welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take two years to complete and are most often offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology offers a more well-rounded education than the certificate or diploma while still furnishing the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
Many states and municipalities do have licensing requirements for welders, so don't forget to check for your location of potential employment. If needed, the welding school you pick should prep you for any licensing exams that you will have to pass in addition to furnishing the suitable training to become a professional welder.
Welder Certification Choices
There are multiple institutions that provide welding certifications, which evaluate the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Many Nikiski AK employers not only demand a certificate or degree from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a renowned organization such as the American Welding Society (AWS). A wide range of certifications are offered dependent on the kind of work that the welder does. Just some of the things that certification can attest to are the welder's ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specified metal thicknesses
- Work with certain types of welds
- Perform according to contract specifications
As formerly stated, many cities, states or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those calling for licensing, many additionally require certification for different kinds of work. Certification is also a way to prove to employers that you are an extremely skilled and experienced welder. So just as with licensing, look into the requirements for your location and make certain that the welding vocational school you choose readies you for certification as needed.
Questions to Ask Welding Trade Schools
As soon as you have decided on the credential you want to obtain, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can begin to evaluate schools. As you can imagine, there are a large number of welding trade and technical schools in the Nikiski AK area. That's why it's important to determine up front what qualifications your selected school must have. We have already covered two 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 must be considered. After all, the school you pick is going to furnish the education that will be the foundation of your new profession as a welder. So below are some additional factors you may need to evaluate before selecting a welding technical school.
Accreditation. It's very important that the welder vocational school you choose is accredited by either a national or a regional organization. There are 2 standard types of accreditation. The school may earn Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a specific program the school has, such as Welding Technology. So verify 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, for example the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping make sure that you obtain a superior education, the accreditation can also help in getting financial aid or student loans, which are often unavailable in Nikiski AK for schools that are not accredited. Also, for those states or local governments that require licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited as well.
Job Placement and Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of welding diploma or degree programs are offered combined with an apprenticeship program. Various other schools will assist in placing you in an apprenticeship or a job after graduation. Ask if the schools you are reviewing assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. These schools must have associations with local unions and various metal working businesses to which they can place their students. Older schools may have a larger network of graduates that they can utilize for referrals. These programs can assist students in finding employment and establish relationships within the Nikiski AK welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that begin an educational program and finish it. It's essential that the welder program you pick has a high completion rate. A lower rate may signify that the students who were in the program were unhappy with the instruction, the instructors, or the facilities, and dropped out. The job placement rate is also an indication of the caliber of training. A higher job placement rate will not only verify that the school has a good reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of Nikiski AK employer relationships to help students secure apprenticeships or employment upon graduation.
Modern Facilities and Equipment. Once you have limited your selection of welding programs to two or three options, you should consider going to the campuses to inspect 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 on the job. If you are unsure what to look for, and are currently in an apprenticeship program, ask the master welder you are working under for guidance. Otherwise, ask a local Nikiski AK welding contractor if they can give you a few pointers.
School Location. Although we already briefly talked about the relevance of location, there are a couple of additional points that we need to address. You should bear in mind that unless you have the ability to relocate, the welder school you choose must be within commuting distance of your Nikiski AK home. If you do opt to attend an out-of-state school, apart from moving costs there might be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly true for welder certificate programs offered by community colleges. Also, 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 should be in a region or state where you ultimately will desire to work.
Smaller Classes. Individualized training is essential for a manual trade such as welding. It's possible to get overlooked in bigger classes and not receive much individualized instruction. Ask what the average class size is for the welding schools you are reviewing. Inquire if you can sit in on a couple of classes so that you can witness just how much individual attention the students are getting. While there, talk with some of the students and get their feedback. Also, speak with some of the instructors and find out what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they hold.
Flexible Class Scheduling. Many people learn a new trade while still working at their current job. Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are considering are convenient enough to meet your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Nikiski AK, confirm that the schools you are reviewing provide those choices. If you can only attend part-time, make certain that the school you choose offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the policy is to make up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family circumstances.
Choose the Best Nikiski Welding Course for Certification
Selecting the ideal welder school will undoubtedly be the most important decision you will make to start your new profession. As we have covered in this article, there are a number of factors that you will need to assess and compare between the schools you are reviewing. It's a must that any welding training that you are assessing includes a lot of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be smaller in size and every student must have their personal welding machine to train on. Classroom instruction needs to offer a real-world perspective, and the course of study should be current and in-line with industry standards. Training programs vary in length and the type of credential provided, so you will have to determine what length of program and certificate or degree will best fulfill your needs. Each training program offers different options for certification also. Perhaps the best way to research your final list of schools is to check out each campus and talk with the faculty and students. Take the time to sit in on a few classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the training program you pick is the right one for you. With the right training, hard work and dedication, the end result will be a new trade as a professional welder in Nikiski AK.