How to Pick the Best Welder Training Classes near Palmer Alaska
Locating the ideal welding trade school near Palmer AK is an important first step to beginning your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are so many schools to choose from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more notably, once you have fine tuned your choices, how do you select the best one? Most prospective students begin by reviewing the schools that are nearest to their homes. Once they have found those that are within commuting distance, they are drawn toward the least costly one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are necessary concerns when reviewing welding technical 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 establish a list of qualifications that your chosen school must have. But before we explore our due diligence checklist, let's talk a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welding Certificate and Degree Training Programs
There are a number of options to receive training as a welder in a trade or technical 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 offered along with an apprenticeship program. Following are short descriptions of the most common welding programs offered in the Palmer AK area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are usually offered by technical and trade schools and require about a year to finish. They are more hands-on training in nature, fashioned largely to teach welding skills. They can provide a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or supplemental skills for working welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take 2 years to complete and are most often offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology offers a more extensive education than the diploma or certificate while still furnishing the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
Many states and municipalities do have licensing requirements for welders, so be sure to check for your location of future employment. As needed, the welder school you choose should prep you for any licensing examinations that you will have to take in addition to supplying the suitable training to become a qualified welder.
Welding Certification Choices
There are several institutions that provide welding certifications, which evaluate the skill level and knowledge of those applying. A large number of Palmer AK employers not only demand a degree or certificate from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a highly regarded agency such as the American Welding Society (AWS). Different certifications are available dependent on the kind of work that the welder does. Some of the skills that certification can attest to are the welder's ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with certain metal thicknesses
- Work with certain kinds of welds
- Work according to contract specifications
As already stated, various states, cities or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those calling for licensing, many also require certification for various kinds of work. Certification is also a means to prove to employers that you are an extremely skilled and qualified welder. So just as with licensing, look into the requirements for your location and make certain that the welding vocational school you select preps you for certification as needed.
Points to Ask Welding Tech Schools
After you have chosen the credential you would like to obtain, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can begin to compare schools. As you can imagine, there are many welding vocational and trade schools in the Palmer AK area. That's why it's essential to establish in advance what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have previously covered two important ones that most people look at 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 training that will be the foundation of your new vocation as a welder. So following are some additional factors you may need to consider before choosing a welder tech 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 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, such as Welding Technology. So make certain that the program you select is accredited, not just the school itself. Additionally, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, such as the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping ensure that you obtain a quality education, the accreditation can also help in securing financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases not offered in Palmer 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 as well.
Job Placement and Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous welder certificate or degree programs are provided in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Various other schools will help place you in a job or an apprenticeship after graduation. Find out if the schools you are considering help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. These schools should have associations with local unions and various metal working businesses to which they can refer their students. More established schools may have a more substantial network of graduates that they can utilize for placements. These programs can help students find employment and develop relationships within the Palmer AK welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that start an educational program and finish it. It's crucial that the welder program you choose has a high completion rate. A lower rate might mean 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 quality of training. A higher job placement rate will not only affirm that the program has a good reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of Palmer AK contacts to help students obtain apprenticeships or employment after graduation.
Up-to-date Facilities and Equipment. Once you have limited your choice of welder schools to 2 or 3 options, you should consider visiting the campuses to evaluate their facilities. Confirm that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be instructed on are modern. 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. Otherwise, ask a local Palmer AK welding contractor if they can give you some pointers.
School Location. Although we previously briefly covered the significance of location, there are a few additional issues that we should address. You should bear in mind that unless you can move, the welding school you pick needs to be within commuting distance of your Palmer AK home. If you do decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation expenses there may 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 offers a job placement or apprenticeship 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 desire to work.
Smaller Classes. Personalized instruction is important for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's easy to be overlooked in larger classes and not receive much personalized instruction. Ask what the typical class size is for the welding schools you are considering. Inquire if you can attend some classes so that you can see how much personal attention the students are receiving. While there, speak with several of the students and get their feedback. Similarly, talk to a few of the trainers and ask what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they have earned.
Flexible Class Schedules. Many people learn a new trade while still employed at their present job. Check to see that the class schedules for the schools you are reviewing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Palmer AK, make certain that the schools you are reviewing offer those choices. If you can only attend part-time, confirm that the school you pick offers part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the protocol is to make up classes if you you miss any due to work, sickness or family responsibilities.
Choose the Right Palmer Welding School for Certification
Choosing the right welder training program will probably be the most critical decision you will make to launch your new profession. As we have discussed in this article, there are several things that you will need to assess and compare between the schools you are considering. It's a necessity that any welder training program that you are considering includes a good deal of hands-on training. Classes need to be small in size and every student should have their personal welding machine to train on. Classroom teaching should offer a real-world context, and the training program should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Courses differ in length and the type of credential offered, so you will need to determine what length of program and certificate or degree will best fulfill your needs. Every training program provides unique options for certification as well. Probably the best approach to research your short list of schools is to check out each campus and talk with the students and faculty. Invest some time to sit in on some classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the training program you pick is the best one for you. With the proper training, effort and commitment, the end result will be a new occupation as a professional welder in Palmer AK.