How to Find the Right Welder Certification Program near Sitka Alaska
Enrolling in the ideal welding trade school near Sitka AK is an essential first step to beginning your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are so many schools to select from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more significantly, once you have narrowed down your choices, how do you pick the right one? Many people start by reviewing the schools that are closest to their homes. When they have found those that are within commuting distance, they are drawn toward the least expensive one. Yes, location and tuition cost are necessary considerations when examining welding vocational schools, but they are not the only ones. Other concerns include such things as accreditation, reputation and job placement rates. So before beginning your search for a vocational school to become a welder, it's sensible to develop a list of qualifications that your selected school must have. But before we explore our due diligence checklist, let's cover a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welding Degree and Certificate Training Courses
There are multiple options to obtain 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 Engineering or Welding Technology, but are more advanced degrees than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available along with an apprenticeship program. Following are brief descriptions of the most typical welding programs available in the Sitka AK area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are usually offered by trade and technical schools and require about one year to complete. They are more hands-on training in nature, created largely to teach welding skills. They can furnish 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 usually 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 readies students to enter the workforce.
Many states and municipalities do have licensing requirements for welders, so make sure to find out for your location of future employment. If needed, the welding school you select should prepare you for any licensing examinations that you will need to pass in addition to providing the appropriate training to become a qualified welder.
Welding Certification Alternatives
There are various institutions that provide welding certifications, which evaluate the knowledge and skill level of those applying. A large number of Sitka AK employers not only expect a certificate or degree from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a renowned organization like the American Welding Society (AWS). A wide range of certifications are offered based upon the kind of work that the welder does. A few of the skills that certification can acknowledge are the welder's ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specific metal thicknesses
- Work with various types of welds
- Operate in compliance with contract specifications
As formerly mentioned, many cities, states or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those requiring licensing, many also require certification for various kinds of work. Certification is also a means to prove to employers that you are an exceptionally skilled and experienced welder. So just as with licensing, check the requirements for your location and make sure that the welding tech school you select readies you for certification as needed.
Points to Ask Welder Vocational Programs
Once you have chosen the credential you want to attain, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can begin to evaluate schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are numerous welder vocational and trade schools in the Sitka AK area. That's why it's essential to determine in advance what qualifications your chosen school must have. We have already discussed a couple of significant ones that most people look at first, which are location and tuition cost. As stated, although they are very important qualifiers, they are not the only ones that must be considered. After all, the program you choose is going to provide the instruction that will be the foundation of your new vocation as a welder. So below are more factors you may want to evaluate before selecting a welding trade school.
Accreditation. It's essential that the welder trade school you choose is accredited by either a national or a regional 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 an individual program the school offers, for example Welding Technology. So confirm that the program you select 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). Besides helping make sure that you obtain a superior education, the accreditation may also assist in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently not offered in Sitka AK for non-accredited schools. Also, for those states or local governments that require licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited as well.
Job Placement and Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of welding degree or certificate programs are provided in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Various other schools will help place you in a job or an apprenticeship after graduation. Ask if the schools you are reviewing assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. These schools should have relationships with local unions and various metal working businesses to which they can refer their students. Older schools may have a more substantial network of graduates that they can rely upon for placements. These programs can assist students in finding employment and establish associations within the Sitka AK welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that start an instructional program and complete it. It's essential that the welding school you choose has a higher completion rate. A lower rate might mean that the students who enrolled in the program were dissatisfied with the training, the teachers, or the facilities, and quit. The job placement rate is also an indication of the quality of training. A higher job placement rate will not only verify that the school has a good reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of Sitka AK contacts to help students obtain employment or apprenticeships upon graduation.
Modern Facilities and Equipment. Once you have decreased your selection of welder schools to 2 or 3 possibilities, you should think out going to the campuses to inspect their facilities. Verify that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are modern. In particular, the training equipment should be comparable to what you will be working with in the field. 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. If not, ask a local Sitka AK welding professional if they can give you some suggestions.
School Location. Although we already briefly covered the relevance of location, there are a few additional points that we should address. You should remember that unless you can move, the welding school you pick needs to be within driving distance of your Sitka AK home. If you do choose to attend an out-of-state school, besides moving costs there could be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly the case for welding certificate programs offered by community colleges. Also, if the school offers a job placement or apprenticeship program, often 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 ultimately will desire to work.
Smaller Classes. Individualized instruction is essential for a manual trade such as welding. It's easy to get overlooked in larger classes and not get much personalized training. Ask what the usual class size is for the welder programs you are looking at. Ask if you can attend a couple of classes so that you can observe just how much individual attention the students are receiving. While there, speak with some of the students and get their evaluations. Also, speak with a couple of the trainers and ask what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they hold.
Convenient Class Schedules. Some people learn a new profession while still working at their present job. Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are looking at are convenient enough to meet your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Sitka AK, make certain that the schools you are considering offer those choices. If you can only enroll part-time, confirm that the school you decide on offers part-time enrollment. Also, check to see what the protocol is to make up classes if you you miss any because of work, sickness or family responsibilities.
Find the Right Sitka Welding Program for Certification
Choosing the right welding training program will probably be the most important decision you will make to start your new profession. As we have discussed in this article, there are several factors that you will need to assess and compare between the programs you are reviewing. It's a necessity that any welder school that you are examining includes a lot of hands-on instruction. Classes should be smaller in size and each student should have their personal welding machine to train with. Classroom instruction should offer a real-world context, and the training program should be current and conform with industry standards. Courses vary in duration and the type of credential offered, so you will need to decide what length of program and certificate or degree will best serve your needs. Every training program provides different options for certification as well. Perhaps The ideal approach to research your short list of schools is to visit each campus and speak with the students and instructors. Invest some time to sit in on some classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the program you choose is the right one for you. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, the final result will be a new career as a professional welder in Sitka AK.