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How to Pick the Right Welder Certification Course near Palmer Alaska

Palmer Alaska construction welder on the jobChoosing the right welder school near Palmer AK is an important first step to beginning your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are numerous schools to pick from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more significantly, once you have fine tuned your choices, how do you pick the right one? Many prospective students begin by checking out the schools that are nearest to their residences. When they have located those that are within commuting distance, they are drawn toward the least expensive one. Yes, location and tuition cost are important issues when reviewing welding trade schools, but they are not the only ones. Other considerations 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 wise to develop 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.

Welding Degree and Certificate Programs

Palmer Alaska welder welding in fabrication shop

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 Technology or Welding Engineering, but are more advanced degrees than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Below are short summaries of the most common welding programs available in the Palmer AK area.

  • Diploma and Certificate Programs are normally offered by trade and technical schools and require about one year to complete. They are more hands-on training in nature, fashioned largely to teach welding skills. They can furnish a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or supplemental 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 supplying the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.

A number of states and municipalities do have licensing prerequisites for welders, so don't forget to check for your location of future employment. As required, the welder school you choose should ready you for any licensing exams that you will need to pass in addition to supplying the appropriate training to become a qualified welder.

Welder Certification Options

Palmer Alaska welder welding metal frame

There are a number of organizations that provide welding certifications, which evaluate the knowledge and skill level of those applying. Numerous Palmer AK employers not only demand a certificate or degree from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a highly regarded organization like the American Welding Society (AWS). A wide range of certifications are offered based on the type of work that the welder does. Some of the skills 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
  • Work according to contract specifications

As already mentioned, some states, cities or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those requiring licensing, some additionally require certification for various types of work. Certification is also a means to demonstrate to employers that you are a highly skilled and knowledgeable welder. So just as with licensing, look into the requirements for your location and confirm that the welding technical school you select readies you for certification as needed.

Questions to Ask Welder Trade Schools

Palmer Alaska electrician welding electrical pole

When you have chosen the credential you would like to earn, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can begin to assess schools. As you probably know, there are many welding trade and vocational schools in the Palmer AK area. That's why it's necessary to decide in advance what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have previously covered a couple of significant ones that most people consider first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As stated, although they are essential qualifications, they are not the only ones that must 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 some additional factors you might want to evaluate before selecting a welder vocational school.

Accreditation. It's extremely important that the welder trade school you decide on is accredited by either a national or a regional 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 specific program the school has, for instance 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 organization, such as the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). In addition to helping ensure that you obtain an excellent education, the accreditation might also help in getting financial assistance or student loans, which are often not offered in Palmer AK for schools that are not accredited. Also, for those states or municipalities that mandate licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited as well.

Job Assistance and Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous welder diploma or degree programs are provided combined with an apprenticeship program. Some other schools will assist in placing you in an apprenticeship or a job after graduation. Find out if the schools you are looking at help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement 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 placements. These programs can assist students in finding employment and establish relationships within the Palmer AK welding community.

Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that start an instructional program and finish it. It's important that the welder program you select has a high completion rate. A lower rate might mean that the students who were in the program were dissatisfied with the training, the teachers, or the facilities, and quit. The job placement rate is also a good indicator of the caliber of training. A higher job placement rate will not only affirm that the school has a good reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of Palmer AK contacts to help students obtain apprenticeships or employment upon graduation.

Up-to-date Equipment and Facilities. After you have limited your choice of welding programs 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 instructed 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 uncertain 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 Palmer AK welding professional if they can give you a few pointers.

School Location. Even though we already briefly talked about the significance of location, there are a couple of additional issues that we should address. You should bear in mind that unless you can relocate, the welding school you choose needs to be within driving distance of your Palmer AK home. If you do decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation expenses there may be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly the case for welding degree programs offered by community colleges. Furthermore, if the school offers an apprenticeship or job placement program, more than likely their placements are within the school's regional community. So the location of the school should be in a region or state where you subsequently will wish to work.

Smaller Classes. One-on-one instruction is essential for a manual trade such as welding. It's easy to get overlooked in bigger classes and not get much personalized instruction. Ask what the typical class size is for the welding programs you are looking at. Inquire if you can sit in on a few classes so that you can witness just how much individual attention the students are getting. While there, speak with a few of the students and get their feedback. Similarly, chat with some of the teachers and ask what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they have earned.

Convenient Class Scheduling. Some people learn a new trade while still working at their current job. Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are convenient enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Palmer AK, verify that the schools you are assessing offer those choices. If you can only enroll part-time, verify that the school you choose offers part-time enrollment. Also, check to see what the policy is to make up classes if you you miss any due to illness, work or family emergencies.

Find out More About Palmer Welder Training Programs

Choose the Right Palmer Welding Course for Certification

Choosing the right welder training program will probably be the most important decision you will make to start your new career. As we have discussed in this article, there are a number of factors that you will need to assess and compare between the programs you are looking at. It's a necessity that any welder training that you are reviewing includes a good deal of hands-on instruction. Classes should be small in size and each student should have their personal welding machine to train on. Classroom teaching needs to offer a real-world perspective, and the course of study should be current and conform with industry standards. Courses vary in length and the type of credential provided, so you will have to decide what length of program and credential will best serve your needs. Every training program offers different possibilities for certification as well. Probably the best approach to research your final list of schools is to go to each campus and speak with the students and faculty. Invest some time to sit in on a few classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the training program you select is the ideal one for you. With the right training, hard work and dedication, the end result will be a new career as a professional welder in Palmer AK.

 

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