How to Find the Best Welding Vocational School near Nikiski Alaska
Finding the right welding trade school near Nikiski AK is an important first step to starting your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are numerous schools to select from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more notably, once you have narrowed down your choices, how do you pick the right one? A number of people start by reviewing the schools that are closest to their homes. When they have identified those that are within commuting distance, they are drawn toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and tuition cost are important considerations when reviewing welding trade schools, but they are not the only ones. Other considerations 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 create a list of qualifications that your chosen school must have. But before we explore our due diligence checklist, let's cover a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welder Certificate and Degree Training Courses
There are several alternatives available to obtain training as a welder in a trade or vocational school. You can receive a a certificate, a diploma or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are available in Welding Technology or Welding Engineering, 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 common welding programs offered in the Nikiski AK area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are generally made available by technical and trade schools and take about a year to finish. They are more hands-on training in scope, created largely to develop welding skills. They can furnish a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or additional skills for working welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take 2 years to finish and are most often offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology offers a more extensive education than the certificate or diploma while still supplying the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
Many states and municipalities do have licensing prerequisites for welders, therefore don't forget to find out for your location of future employment. If required, the welder school you choose should prep you for any licensing examinations that you will have to take in addition to supplying the proper training to become a qualified welder.
Welding Certification Alternatives
There are multiple institutions that offer welding certifications, which assess the knowledge and skill level of those applying. Numerous Nikiski AK employers not only require a certificate or degree from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a highly regarded agency such as the American Welding Society (AWS). Different certifications are available based on the kind of work that the welder does. A few of the things that certification can acknowledge are the welder's ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specific metal thicknesses
- Work with various kinds of welds
- Perform according to contract specifications
As already mentioned, many states, cities or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those requiring licensing, some also require certification for different kinds of work. Certification is also a way to prove to employers that you are an extremely skilled and qualified welder. So similarly as with licensing, look into the requirements for your location and verify that the welder technical school you select readies you for certification if needed.
Questions to Ask Welding Technical Schools
Once you have chosen the credential you would like to attain, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can start to assess schools. As you probably know, there are numerous welding trade and technical schools in the Nikiski AK area. That's why it's necessary to establish in advance what qualifications your chosen school must have. We have previously 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 choose is going to furnish the education that will be the foundation of your new vocation as a welder. So below are more factors you might want to evaluate before picking a welding technical school.
Accreditation. It's essential that the welder trade school you decide on is accredited by either a national or a regional organization. There are two standard types of accreditation. The school may receive Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on an individual program the school has, for example Welding Technology. So make sure that the program you choose is accredited, not just the school itself. Additionally, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, for example the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping ensure that you obtain an excellent education, the accreditation may also assist in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are often not available in Nikiski AK for schools that are not accredited. Also, for those states or municipalities that require licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited also.
Job Placement and Apprenticeship Programs. Many welder diploma or degree programs are offered combined with an apprenticeship program. Some other schools will help place you in an apprenticeship or a job upon 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 refer their students. Older schools may have a more substantial network of graduates that they can rely upon for placements. These programs can assist students in finding employment and develop associations within the Nikiski AK welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that enroll in an educational program and complete it. It's essential that the welding program you pick has a higher completion rate. A lower rate might indicate that the students who were in the program were dissatisfied with the training, the instructors, or the facilities, and dropped out. The job placement rate is also an indication of the caliber of training. A high job placement rate will not only verify that the program has an excellent reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of Nikiski AK contacts to assist students obtain employment or apprenticeships after graduation.
Up-to-date Equipment and Facilities. After you have decreased your selection of welding schools to two or three possibilities, you should think out visiting the campuses to look over their facilities. Make sure 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 working with on the job. 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 Nikiski AK welding professional if they can give you some tips.
School Location. Although we previously briefly talked about the importance of location, there are a couple of additional issues that we need to address. You should keep in mind that unless you have the ability to move, the welding program you select needs to be within driving distance of your Nikiski AK home. If you do opt to attend an out-of-state school, besides relocation costs there may be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly true for welder diploma programs offered by community colleges. Also, 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 should be in an area or state where you subsequently will wish to work.
Small Classes. Individualized instruction is essential for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's possible to get overlooked in larger classes and not get much one-on-one training. Find out what the typical class size is for the welding schools you are looking at. Inquire if you can sit in on some classes so that you can witness just how much individual attention the students are receiving. While there, talk with several of the students and get their evaluations. Similarly, speak with a couple of the instructors and ask what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they have earned.
Convenient Class Schedules. Many people learn a new trade while still employed at their present job. Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are considering are convenient enough to satisfy your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Nikiski AK, make certain that the schools you are considering offer those choices. If you can only attend part-time, make sure 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 emergencies.
Choose the Best Nikiski Welding School for Certification
Choosing the best welder school will probably be the most important decision you will make to begin your new career. As we have covered in this article, there are many things that you will need to examine and compare between the programs you are looking at. It's a must that any welder school that you are examining includes a lot of hands-on training. Classes should be smaller in size and each student must have their own welding machine to train with. Classroom education needs to offer a real-world context, and the training program should be current and conform with industry standards. Courses vary in length and the type of credential offered, so you will need to decide what length of program and degree or certificate will best satisfy your needs. Each training program offers different possibilities for certification as well. Probably the best way to research your final list of schools is to go to each campus and speak with the faculty and students. Invest some time to attend some classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the school you select is the right one for you. With the right training, hard work and dedication, the end outcome will be a new career as a professional welder in Nikiski AK.