How to Choose the Right Welding Technical School near Sitka Alaska
Selecting the right welder school near Sitka AK is an essential first step to beginning your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are a lot of 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 right one? Most prospective students start by reviewing the schools that are nearest to their residences. Once they have found those that are within driving distance, they are drawn toward the least expensive one. Yes, location and tuition cost are necessary considerations when reviewing welding technical schools, but they are not the only ones. Other factors 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 develop a list of qualifications that your chosen school must have. But before we explore our due diligence checklist, let's cover a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welding Certificate and Degree Programs
There are a number of options available to receive training as a welder in a trade or technical school. You can obtain a diploma, a certificate or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are offered in Welding Engineering or Welding Technology, but are more advanced degrees than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available combined with an apprenticeship program. Following are brief descriptions of the most prevalent welding programs offered in the Sitka AK area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are generally offered by trade and technical schools and take about a year to finish. They are more hands-on training in scope, fashioned largely to develop welding skills. They can furnish a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or additional skills for experienced welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take 2 years to finish and are usually offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology provides a more extensive education than the diploma or certificate while still providing the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
A number of municipalities and states do have licensing requirements for welders, so make sure to find out for your location of potential employment. As required, the welding school you select should prep you for any licensing examinations that you will have to pass in addition to furnishing the proper training to become a professional welder.
Welder Certification Choices
There are a number of institutions that offer welder certifications, which evaluate the knowledge and skill level of those applying. A large number of Sitka AK employers not only require a degree or certificate from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a highly regarded agency such as the American Welding Society (AWS). A variety of certifications are offered based upon the type of work that the welder performs. Some of the things that certification can attest to are the welder's ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specific metal thicknesses
- Work with certain kinds of welds
- Perform based on contract specifications
As previously stated, some states, cities or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those mandating licensing, some additionally require certification for different kinds of work. Certification is also a way to demonstrate 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 welder vocational school you decide on preps you for certification as needed.
What to Ask Welder Trade Programs
After you have decided on the credential you would like to earn, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can begin to assess schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are a large number of welder vocational and trade schools in the Sitka AK area. That's why it's essential to establish up front what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have previously covered a couple of significant ones that most people look at first, which are location and tuition cost. As stated, although they are essential qualifiers, they are not the only ones that should be considered. After all, the school you choose is going to provide the training that will be the foundation of your new vocation as a welder. So following are more factors you might need to consider before selecting a welder vocational school.
Accreditation. It's essential that the welder tech school you choose is accredited by either a regional or a national organization. There are 2 basic 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 has, such as Welding Technology. So verify that the program you choose is accredited, not just the school itself. 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 receive a superior education, the accreditation can also help in getting financial assistance or student loans, which are often not available 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. Numerous welder degree or diploma programs are offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Various other schools will assist in placing you in a job or an apprenticeship upon graduation. Find out if the schools you are looking at assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. These schools should have associations with local unions and other metal working businesses to which they can refer their students. More established schools may have a more substantial network of graduates that they can rely upon for referrals. These programs can help students find employment and develop associations within the Sitka AK welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that begin an instructional program and finish it. It's essential that the welder program you pick has a high completion rate. A low rate may signify that the students who joined the program were unhappy with the training, the teachers, or the facilities, and quit. The job placement rate is also an indication of the caliber of training. A higher job placement rate will not only verify that the school has a good reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of Sitka AK contacts to assist students secure apprenticeships or employment upon graduation.
Up-to-date Facilities and Equipment. Once you have narrowed down your choice of welding schools to 2 or 3 options, you should consider going to the campuses to evaluate their facilities. Make sure that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are modern. Specifically, the training equipment should be comparable to what you will be using in the field. If you are unsure 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 Sitka AK welding professional if they can give you some pointers.
School Location. Although we already briefly talked about the relevance of location, there are a couple of additional issues that we should cover. You should bear in mind that unless you have the ability to relocate, the welding program you select must be within commuting distance of your Sitka AK home. If you do opt 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 certificate programs offered by community colleges. Also, 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 an area or state where you subsequently will want to work.
Small Classes. One-on-one training is essential for a manual trade such as welding. It's possible to get lost in bigger classes and not obtain much personalized training. Find out what the typical class size is for the welder programs you are looking at. Ask if you can sit in on a couple of classes so that you can see how much individual attention the students are receiving. While there, talk with a few 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 have earned.
Convenient Class Scheduling. Lots of folks learn a new trade while still employed at their current job. Confirm that the class schedules for the schools you are considering are convenient enough to meet your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Sitka AK, confirm that the schools you are assessing offer those choices. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you pick offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the policy is to make up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family responsibilities.
Find the Best Sitka Welding Course for Certification
Picking the ideal welding training program will undoubtedly be the most important decision you will make to launch your new trade. As we have discussed in this article, there are many things that you will need to evaluate and compare among the schools you are looking at. It's a prerequisite that any welding training program that you are evaluating includes a lot 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 provide a real-world context, and the course of study should be current and in-line with industry standards. Courses differ in duration and the kind of credential provided, so you will have to ascertain what length of program and certificate or degree will best serve your needs. Every training program offers different possibilities for certification as well. Perhaps the best way to research your short list of schools is to visit each campus and speak with the students and instructors. Invest some time to attend some classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the training program you select is the best 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.