How to Pick the Right Welding Certification Course near Palmer Alaska
Selecting the right welding school near Palmer AK is an important first step to launching 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 alternatives, how do you select the best one? Many prospective students begin by reviewing the schools that are nearest to their residences. Once they have located those that are within commuting distance, they gravitate toward the least costly one. Yes, location and tuition cost are important considerations when evaluating welding vocational schools, but they are not the only ones. Other concerns include such things as reputation, accreditation and job placement rates. So before starting your search for a trade school to become a welder, it's sensible to develop a list of qualifications that your chosen school must have. But before we examine our due diligence checklist, let's cover a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welder Degree and Certificate Programs
There are several options to receive training as a welder in a trade or vocational school. You can obtain a diploma, a certificate or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are offered in Welding Technology or Welding Engineering, but are more advanced degrees than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also offered combined with an apprenticeship program. Below are short descriptions of the most typical welding programs available in the Palmer AK area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are normally offered by trade and technical schools and take about a year to finish. They are more hands-on training in scope, created primarily to develop welding skills. They can provide 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 furnishes a more extensive education than the certificate or diploma while still providing the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
Some states and municipalities do have licensing prerequisites for welders, so make sure to find out for your location of future employment. If needed, the welder school you select should ready you for any licensing examinations that you will need to pass in addition to providing the suitable training to become a qualified welder.
Welder Certification Choices
There are several organizations that offer welding certifications, which evaluate the knowledge and skill level of those applying. A large number of Palmer AK employers not only demand a certificate or degree from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a renowned agency such as the American Welding Society (AWS). A variety of certifications are available based upon the type of work that the welder performs. Some of the skills that certification can acknowledge are the welder's ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with certain metal thicknesses
- Work with specific types of welds
- Perform according to contract specifications
As formerly mentioned, many states, cities or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those mandating licensing, some additionally require certification for various kinds of work. Certification is also a means to demonstrate to employers that you are a highly skilled and qualified welder. So just as with licensing, check the requirements for your location and confirm that the welder trade school you choose preps you for certification if needed.
Points to Ask Welder Vocational Programs
When you have chosen the credential you would like to earn, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can start to evaluate schools. As you probably know, there are a large number of welder trade and technical schools in the Palmer AK area. That's why it's essential to decide up front what qualifications your chosen school must have. We have already covered a couple of significant ones that many people look at first, which are location and tuition cost. As stated, although they are essential qualifications, they are not the only ones that need to be considered. After all, the program you pick is going to furnish the education that will be the foundation of your new career as a welder. So below are some additional factors you might need to evaluate before picking a welder vocational school.
Accreditation. It's very important that the welding vocational school you pick is accredited by either a regional or a national agency. There are two standard types of accreditation. The school may receive Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a single program the school offers, such as Welding Technology. So make sure that the program you pick is accredited, not just the school alone. Also, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, for example the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). In addition to helping make sure that you get a superior education, the accreditation may also help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases not offered in Palmer AK for schools that are not accredited. Finally, for those states or municipalities that require licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited as well.
Apprenticeship and Job Assistance Programs. Many welder certificate or degree programs are provided in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Other schools will assist in placing you in a job or an apprenticeship after graduation. Find out if the schools you are looking at assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. These schools must have relationships with local unions and other metal working businesses to which they can place their students. Older schools may have a more substantial network of graduates that they can rely upon for placements. These programs can help students find employment and establish relationships within the Palmer AK welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that start an academic program and finish it. It's essential that the welding program you select has a higher completion rate. A lower rate might mean that the students who were in the program were dissatisfied with the instruction, the teachers, or the facilities, and dropped out. 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 an excellent reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of Palmer AK employer relationships to help students obtain employment or apprenticeships upon graduation.
Up-to-date Facilities and Equipment. Once you have limited your choice of welder schools to two or three possibilities, you should consider visiting the campuses to look over their facilities. Confirm that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be trained 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 Palmer AK welding professional if they can give you a few tips.
School Location. Even though we already briefly covered the relevance of location, there are a few additional issues that we need to address. You should bear in mind that unless you have the ability to move, the welding school you choose must be within driving distance of your Palmer AK home. If you do decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides moving costs there might be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially true for welder degree programs offered by community colleges. Additionally, if the school provides a job placement or apprenticeship program, more than likely their placements are within the school's regional community. So the location of the school needs to be in an area or state where you subsequently will want to work.
Smaller Classes. Individualized training is important for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's possible to get overlooked in larger classes and not get much one-on-one instruction. Ask what the average class size is for the welding programs you are considering. Ask if you can attend a couple of classes so that you can see just how much individual attention the students are getting. While there, speak with a few of the students and get their feedback. Similarly, talk with some of the trainers and ask what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they have earned.
Convenient Class Scheduling. Some people learn a new profession while still employed at their current job. Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are considering are convenient enough to satisfy your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Palmer AK, confirm that the schools you are considering provide those choices. If you can only enroll 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 due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
Choose the Right Palmer Welding Course for Certification
Selecting the best welding training program will undoubtedly be the most important decision you will make to start your new profession. As we have addressed in this article, there are many factors that you will need to examine and compare between the programs you are reviewing. It's a must that any welding training program that you are assessing includes a considerable amount of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be small in size and every student must have their own welding machine to train on. Classroom teaching needs to offer a real-world perspective, and the training program should be current and conform with industry standards. Training programs differ in duration and the type of credential provided, so you will need to determine what length of program and degree or certificate will best fulfill your needs. Every program provides unique possibilities for certification also. Perhaps the best means to research your final list of schools is to go to each campus and speak with the students and instructors. Invest some time to monitor some classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the training program you choose is the ideal one for you. With the right training, effort and commitment, the final result will be a new trade as a professional welder in Palmer AK.