How to Pick the Best Welding Degree Program near Sitka Alaska
Locating the ideal welder school near Sitka AK is an important first step to beginning your new career as a professional welder. But since there are so many schools to choose from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more importantly, once you have narrowed down your options, how do you pick the best one? A number of people start by checking out the schools that are closest to their homes. When they have found those that are within driving distance, they are drawn toward the least costly one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are crucial concerns when reviewing welding technical schools, but they are not the only ones. Other concerns include such things as reputation, accreditation and job placement rates. So before beginning your search for a trade school to become a welder, it's sensible to develop a list of qualifications that your selected school must have. But before we delve into our due diligence checklist, let's talk a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welder Degree and Certificate Training Programs
There are several options available to get training as a welder in a technical or trade school. You can obtain 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 in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Below are brief summaries of the most prevalent welding programs offered in the Sitka AK area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are normally offered by trade and technical schools and require about a year to finish. They are more hands-on training in scope, created primarily 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.
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 needed, the welding school you select should prep you for any licensing examinations that you will need to take in addition to furnishing the appropriate training to become a professional welder.
Welding Certification Choices
There are multiple organizations that offer welder certifications, which assess the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Numerous Sitka AK employers not only require a degree or certificate from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a renowned agency such as the American Welding Society (AWS). A wide range of certifications are available based upon the type of work that the welder does. A few 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 various types of welds
- Perform in compliance with contract specifications
As formerly stated, various cities, states or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those calling for licensing, a number also require certification for different types 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, check the requirements for your local area and make sure that the welding vocational school you choose readies you for certification if needed.
What to Ask Welding Vocational Schools
As soon as you have chosen the credential you want to earn, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can start to compare schools. As you can imagine, there are numerous welder trade and vocational schools in the Sitka AK area. That's why it's necessary to determine in advance what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have already discussed a couple of significant ones that most people consider first, which are location and tuition cost. As mentioned, although they are essential qualifiers, they are not the only ones that need to be considered. After all, the program you decide on is going to provide the training that will be the foundation of your new career as a welder. So below are some additional factors you might want to consider before choosing a welder tech school.
Accreditation. It's essential that the welder vocational school you decide on is accredited by either a regional or a national agency. There are 2 basic kinds 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 instance 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 acknowledged accrediting organization, such as the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). In addition to helping make sure that you get an excellent education, the accreditation can also help in getting financial aid or student loans, which are frequently unavailable in Sitka AK for schools that are not accredited. Also, for those states or local governments that require licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited also.
Job Placement and Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of welder diploma or degree programs are offered combined with an apprenticeship program. Other schools will assist in placing you in a job or an apprenticeship upon graduation. Find out if the schools you are reviewing help 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 refer their students. Older schools may have a larger network of graduates that they can rely upon for referrals. These programs can help students find employment and develop relationships within the Sitka AK welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that enroll in an academic program and complete it. It's important that the welder program you pick has a high completion rate. A low rate may signify that the students who were in the program were unhappy with the training, the teachers, or the facilities, and dropped out. The job placement rate is also a good indicator of the quality of training. A higher job placement rate will not only confirm that the program has an excellent reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of Sitka AK contacts to assist students secure apprenticeships or employment after graduation.
Up-to-date Equipment and Facilities. After you have limited your choice of welding schools to 2 or 3 options, you should think out going to the campuses to evaluate their facilities. Verify that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are modern. Specifically, the training equipment should be comparable to what you will be using on the job. If you are uncertain 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 Sitka AK welding contractor if they can give you some tips.
School Location. Although we previously briefly talked about the significance of location, there are a few additional points that we need to deal with. You should bear in mind that unless you have the ability to move, the welding school you choose must be within commuting distance of your Sitka AK home. If you do choose to attend an out-of-state school, apart from relocation expenses there could be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly true for welding diploma programs offered by community colleges. Additionally, if the school provides 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 a region or state where you ultimately will wish to work.
Small Classes. Individualized instruction is essential for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's easy to get overlooked in bigger classes and not receive much individualized training. Find out what the average class size is for the welding programs you are looking at. Ask if you can attend some classes so that you can witness just how much personal attention the students are receiving. While there, talk with some of the students and get their evaluations. Similarly, talk to a few of the trainers and find out what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they hold.
Convenient Class Schedules. Lots of folks learn a new trade while still working at their present job. Check to see that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are flexible enough to satisfy your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Sitka AK, make sure that the schools you are considering offer those alternatives. If you can only attend part-time, make certain that the school you choose offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the policy is to make up classes if you you miss any due to work, illness or family circumstances.
Choose the Best Sitka Welding Training for Certification
Picking the right welding school will probably be the most critical decision you will make to launch your new trade. As we have covered in this article, there are several things that you will need to assess and compare among the schools you are reviewing. It's a must that any welder training program that you are considering includes a good deal of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be small in size and each student should have their own welding machine to train on. Classroom teaching needs to provide a real-world perspective, and the training program should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Programs differ in length and the type of credential provided, so you will need to determine what length of program and certificate or degree will best fulfill your needs. Every program offers unique options for certification as well. Probably The ideal way to research your final list of schools is to go to each campus and talk with the students and instructors. Take the time to monitor some classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the training program you decide on is the ideal one for you. With the right training, effort and dedication, the end outcome will be a new career as a professional welder in Sitka AK.