How to Select the Best Welding Trade School near Sitka Alaska
Choosing the right welder technical school near Sitka AK is an essential 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 determine which ones to consider? And more importantly, once you have fine tuned your options, how do you select the best one? A number of prospective students start by looking at the schools that are closest to their residences. Once they have found those that are within commuting distance, they are drawn toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are important considerations when examining welder trade schools, but they are not the only ones. Other concerns include such things as reputation, accreditation and job placement rates. So before initiating your search for a trade school to become a welder, it's prudent 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.
Welding Certificate and Degree Training Courses
There are several options to get training as a welder in a trade or technical school. You can obtain a a certificate, a diploma or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are offered in Welding Engineering or Welding Technology, but are more advanced programs than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available along with an apprenticeship program. Following are short descriptions of the most common welding programs available in the Sitka AK area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are generally made available by trade and technical schools and take about 1 year to complete. They are more hands-on training in scope, created mainly to teach welding skills. They can provide a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or supplemental skills for experienced welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take 2 years to complete and are usually offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology provides a more extensive education than the certificate or diploma while still furnishing the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
Some municipalities and states do have licensing requirements for welders, so make sure to find out for your location of potential employment. If needed, the welder school you select should prepare you for any licensing examinations that you will have to take in addition to furnishing the suitable training to become a professional welder.
Welding Certification Choices
There are multiple organizations that provide welding certifications, which evaluate the knowledge and skill level of those applying. Numerous Sitka AK employers not only expect a certificate or degree from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a renowned agency like the American Welding Society (AWS). A wide range of certifications are available based upon the kind of work that the welder performs. A few of the things that certification can attest to are the welder's ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specified metal thicknesses
- Work with various types of welds
- Perform according to contract specifications
As formerly mentioned, various states, cities or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those mandating licensing, a number also require certification for various types of work. Certification is also a means to demonstrate to employers that you are an extremely skilled and experienced welder. So just as with licensing, check the requirements for your location and make certain that the welding tech school you select preps you for certification if needed.
Subjects to Ask Welder Tech Programs
When you have chosen the credential you would like to attain, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can begin to compare schools. As you probably know, there are numerous welder vocational and trade schools in the Sitka AK area. That's why it's necessary to determine in advance what qualifications your selected school must have. We have previously discussed 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 should be looked at. After all, the program you select is going to furnish the education that will be the foundation of your new profession as a welder. So below are some additional factors you may want to consider before picking a welding tech school.
Accreditation. It's very important that the welding trade school you pick is accredited by either a national or a regional organization. There are two basic 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 has, for example Welding Technology. So verify 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). Besides helping ensure that you obtain an excellent education, the accreditation can also help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are often not available in Sitka AK for non-accredited schools. Finally, for those states or local governments that require licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited also.
Apprenticeship and Job Assistance Programs. A large number of welding diploma or degree programs are offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Some other schools will help place you in a job or an apprenticeship after graduation. Ask if the schools you are looking at assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance 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 larger network of graduates that they can utilize for placements. These programs can assist students in finding employment and establish relationships within the Sitka AK welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that enroll in an academic program and finish it. It's important that the welder program you select has a high completion rate. A low rate could indicate that the students who joined 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 confirm that the program has a good reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of Sitka AK contacts to assist students obtain apprenticeships or employment after graduation.
Up-to-date Facilities and Equipment. Once you have limited your choice of welding schools to two or three options, you should consider visiting the campuses to inspect their facilities. Confirm that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be taught 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, ask the master welder you are working under for guidance. Otherwise, ask a local Sitka AK welding professional if they can give you some suggestions.
School Location. Although we already briefly discussed the relevance of location, there are a couple of additional points that we need to cover. You should remember that unless you can move, the welder program you select needs to be within commuting distance of your Sitka AK home. If you do opt to enroll in an out-of-state school, apart from moving expenses there may be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially the case for welding degree programs offered by community colleges. Additionally, if the school offers a job placement or apprenticeship program, more than 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 ultimately will wish to work.
Smaller Classes. Personalized instruction is essential for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's easy to get overlooked in bigger classes and not obtain much one-on-one instruction. Ask what the average class size is for the welding programs you are considering. Ask if you can sit in on a couple of classes so that you can observe how much personal attention the students are receiving. While there, talk with several of the students and get their opinions. Similarly, talk to a few of the instructors and find out what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they have earned.
Convenient Class Scheduling. Lots of folks learn a new profession while still working at their present job. Confirm that the class schedules for the schools you are looking at are convenient enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Sitka AK, verify that the schools you are assessing offer those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you decide on offers part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the policy is to make up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family circumstances.
Choose the Right Sitka Welding Course for Certification
Picking the ideal welder school will undoubtedly be the most critical decision you will make to launch your new career. As we have covered in this article, there are many things that you will need to assess and compare between the schools you are looking at. It's a must that any welder training that you are considering includes a good deal of hands-on training. Classes should be small in size and each student must have their own welding machine to train with. Classroom teaching needs to offer a real-world context, and the course of study should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Training programs vary in duration and the type of credential offered, so you will need to ascertain what length of program and certificate or degree will best satisfy your needs. Each program offers unique options for certification as well. Perhaps The ideal way to research your final list of schools is to check out each campus and talk with the teachers and students. Invest some time to attend a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the program you select is the ideal one for you. With the proper training, effort and commitment, the final result will be a new trade as a professional welder in Sitka AK.