How to Enroll In the Best Welder Degree Program near Sitka Alaska
Enrolling in the right welder school near Sitka AK is an important first step to beginning your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are numerous schools to select from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more notably, once you have narrowed down your choices, how do you pick the best one? Many prospective students start by looking at the schools that are closest to their homes. Once they have located those that are within driving distance, they are drawn toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and tuition cost are necessary issues when examining 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 prudent to develop a list of qualifications that your chosen school must have. But before we explore our due diligence checklist, let's talk a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welder Degree and Certificate Programs
There are multiple alternatives available to receive training as a welder in a trade or vocational 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 courses than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available along with an apprenticeship program. Below are brief explanations of the most typical welding programs available in the Sitka AK area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are generally offered by technical and trade schools and take about a year to complete. They are more hands-on training in scope, designed largely to teach welding skills. They can provide a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or additional skills for experienced welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take 2 years to complete and are most often offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology provides a more extensive education than the certificate or diploma while still providing the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
A number of states and municipalities do have licensing requirements for welders, so don't forget to find out for your location of potential employment. As needed, the welding school you pick should ready you for any licensing examinations that you will have to take in addition to furnishing the suitable training to become a qualified welder.
Welding Certification Choices
There are various institutions that offer welding certifications, which test the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Many Sitka AK employers not only require a certificate or degree from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a renowned agency such as the American Welding Society (AWS). A variety of certifications are offered based upon the type of work that the welder does. A few of the skills that certification can acknowledge are the welder's ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with certain metal thicknesses
- Work with specific kinds of welds
- Work based on contract specifications
As previously mentioned, many states, cities or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those calling for licensing, many also require certification for various types of work. Certification is also a means to prove to employers that you are a highly skilled and qualified welder. So similarly as with licensing, check the requirements for your local area and verify that the welding technical school you select prepares you for certification if needed.
Points to Ask Welding Trade Schools
As soon as you have decided on the credential you want to obtain, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can begin to evaluate schools. As you probably know, there are numerous welding trade and vocational schools in the Sitka AK area. That's why it's necessary to decide up front what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have previously covered 2 significant ones that most people consider first, which are location and tuition cost. As mentioned, although they are essential qualifications, they are not the only ones that must be considered. After all, the school you select is going to provide the instruction that will be the foundation of your new vocation as a welder. So below are some additional factors you may need to consider before selecting a welder technical school.
Accreditation. It's extremely important that the welding vocational school you choose is accredited by either a regional or a national agency. There are two basic kinds of accreditation. The school may earn Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a specific program the school offers, for example Welding Technology. So confirm that the program you pick is accredited, not just the school itself. Also, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, like the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping make sure that you receive a superior education, the accreditation might also assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are often not offered in Sitka AK for non-accredited schools. Finally, for those states or local governments that mandate licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited as well.
Apprenticeship and Job Assistance Programs. Many 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. Ask 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 place their students. More established schools may have a larger network of graduates that they can utilize for referrals. These programs can assist students in finding 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 enroll in an instructional program and finish it. It's essential that the welder school you pick has a high completion rate. A low rate could mean that the students who were in the program were dissatisfied with the instruction, the instructors, or the facilities, and quit. The job placement rate is also an indication of the caliber of training. A high job placement rate will not only affirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of Sitka AK contacts to help students secure employment or apprenticeships after graduation.
Modern Equipment and Facilities. Once you have decreased your choice of welding schools to two or three options, you should consider going to the campuses to evaluate their facilities. Verify 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 working with on the job. If you are not sure 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 professional if they can give you a few tips.
School Location. Although we already briefly talked about the significance of location, there are a couple of additional points that we should address. You should bear in mind that unless you can move, the welder program you pick must be within driving distance of your Sitka AK home. If you do choose to attend an out-of-state school, apart from moving costs there may be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially true for welding certificate programs offered by community colleges. Also, if the school offers an apprenticeship or job placement program, most likely their placements are within the school's regional community. So the location of the school should be in a region or state where you ultimately will want to work.
Small Classes. One-on-one training is important for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's easy to get overlooked in larger classes and not get much individualized training. Find out what the average class size is for the welder programs you are looking at. Inquire if you can sit in on a couple of classes so that you can observe just how much individual attention the students are getting. While there, talk with a few of the students and get their opinions. Also, chat with a few of the teachers and ask what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they have earned.
Convenient Class Scheduling. Many people learn a new profession while still employed at their current job. Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are looking at are flexible enough to satisfy your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Sitka AK, make certain that the schools you are looking at provide those choices. If you can only enroll part-time, make sure that the school you decide on offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the policy is to make up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family emergencies.
Find the Best Sitka Welding Course for Certification
Picking the best welding school will probably be the most important decision you will make to begin your new career. As we have discussed in this article, there are many 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 should be small in size and each student should have their own welding machine to train on. Classroom education should offer a real-world perspective, and the training program should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Training programs differ in length and the type of credential offered, so you will need to decide what length of program and credential will best serve your needs. Each program offers different options for certification also. Probably the best way to research your short list of schools is to check out each campus and talk with the students and faculty. Invest some time to monitor a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the school you pick is the ideal one for you. With the right training, effort and dedication, the end result will be a new career as a professional welder in Sitka AK.