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How to Find the Right Welder Trade School near Nikiski Alaska

Nikiski Alaska construction welder on the jobChoosing the ideal welding school near Nikiski AK is an important first step to beginning your new career 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 importantly, once you have narrowed down your choices, how do you select the best one? A number of people start by checking out the schools that are nearest to their residences. Once they have located those that are within commuting distance, they are drawn toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and tuition cost are necessary concerns when examining welding 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 sensible to establish 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 Courses

Nikiski Alaska welder working in metal shop

There are several options to obtain training as a welder in a technical or trade school. You can receive a a certificate, a diploma or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are offered in Welding Technology or Welding Engineering, but are more advanced courses than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also offered combined with an apprenticeship program. Below are short explanations of the most common welding programs available in the Nikiski AK area.

  • Certificate and Diploma Programs are usually made available by technical and trade schools and take about one year to complete. They are more hands-on training in nature, fashioned primarily to teach 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 2 years to finish and are usually offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology provides a more extensive education than the diploma or certificate while still furnishing the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.

A number of municipalities and states do have licensing prerequisites for welders, therefore make sure to find out for your location of potential employment. If required, the welding school you select should prepare you for any licensing exams that you will have to take in addition to furnishing the proper training to become a professional welder.

Welding Certification Options

Nikiski Alaska welder welding metal table

There are various institutions that provide welding certifications, which test the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Many Nikiski AK employers not only require a degree or certificate from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a renowned agency such as the American Welding Society (AWS). Different certifications are offered based upon the kind 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 various types of welds
  • Perform based on contract specifications

As previously stated, various cities, states or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those calling for licensing, many also require certification for different 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, look into the requirements for your local area and make sure that the welder technical school you select readies you for certification if needed.

Questions to Ask Welder Technical Schools

Nikiski Alaska electrician welding electrical beam

As soon as you have chosen the credential you want to attain, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can start to assess schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are many welder vocational and trade schools in the Nikiski AK area. That's why it's important to determine in advance what qualifications your chosen school must have. We have already discussed 2 important ones that most people look at first, which are location and tuition cost. As stated, although they are essential qualifiers, they are not the only ones that should be considered. After all, the program you pick is going to provide the training that will be the foundation of your new profession as a welder. So following are some additional factors you may want to evaluate before picking a welder trade school.

Accreditation. It's essential that the welder trade school you decide on is accredited by either a regional or a national organization. There are 2 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 offers, for instance Welding Technology. So confirm 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, like the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). In addition to helping make sure that you receive a quality education, the accreditation may also assist in getting financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases not available in Nikiski AK for schools that are not accredited. Finally, for those states or municipalities that mandate licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited as well.

Job Placement and Apprenticeship Programs. Many welding degree or certificate programs are provided in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Some other schools will help place you in an apprenticeship or a job upon graduation. Ask if the schools you are looking at help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. The schools should have associations with local unions and other metal working businesses to which they can refer their students. More established schools may have a larger network of graduates that they can rely upon for referrals. These programs can help students find employment and develop relationships within the Nikiski AK welding community.

Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that start an academic program and finish it. It's crucial that the welder school you pick has a high completion rate. A low rate could indicate 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 verify that the school has an excellent reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of Nikiski AK contacts to help students secure employment or apprenticeships upon graduation.

Up-to-date Facilities and Equipment. Once you have decreased your selection of welder schools to 2 or 3 options, you should consider going to the campuses to look over their facilities. Verify that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed 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 unsure 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 Nikiski AK welding contractor if they can give you some pointers.

School Location. Even though we already briefly covered the significance of location, there are a few additional points that we should deal with. You should keep in mind that unless you are able to relocate, the welder program you choose must be within commuting distance of your Nikiski AK home. If you do opt to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides relocation costs there may be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially the case for welding certificate programs offered by community colleges. Furthermore, if the school offers an apprenticeship or job placement program, most 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 subsequently will desire to work.

Smaller Classes. One-on-one training is essential for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's possible to be lost in larger classes and not obtain much one-on-one instruction. Ask what the average class size is for the welder schools you are reviewing. Inquire if you can attend some classes so that you can experience just how much personal attention the students are receiving. While there, talk with several of the students and get their evaluations. Also, chat with a couple of the trainers and find out what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they have earned.

Convenient Class Scheduling. Lots of folks learn a new trade while still employed at their current job. Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are looking at are flexible enough to satisfy your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Nikiski AK, verify that the schools you are reviewing offer those choices. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, confirm that the school you decide on offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the policy is to make up classes if you you miss any because of work, sickness or family responsibilities.

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Find the Best Nikiski Welding Training for Certification

Selecting the right welder school will undoubtedly be the most critical decision you will make to begin your new career. As we have addressed in this article, there are many things that you will need to assess and compare among the programs you are considering. It's a must that any welding school that you are reviewing includes a considerable amount of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be small in size and every student should have their personal welding machine to train with. Classroom instruction should offer a real-world perspective, and the course of study should be current and conform with industry standards. Courses differ in length and the type of credential provided, so you will have to ascertain what length of program and certificate or degree will best satisfy your needs. Each program offers different possibilities for certification as well. Perhaps The ideal way to research your short list of schools is to check out each campus and talk with the students and instructors. Invest some time to attend a few classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the program you decide on is the ideal one for you. With the right training, effort and commitment, the final outcome will be a new occupation as a professional welder in Nikiski AK.

 

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