How to Select the Right Welding Certification Classes near Steele Creek Alaska
Finding the right welding vocational school near Steele Creek AK is an essential 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 significantly, once you have narrowed down your alternatives, how do you pick the best one? Most prospective students begin by looking at the schools that are closest to their homes. Once they have identified those that are within driving distance, they gravitate toward the least costly one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are important concerns when examining welder vocational schools, but they are not the only ones. Other considerations include such things as accreditation, reputation and job placement rates. So before initiating your search for a vocational school to become a welder, it's wise to create a list of qualifications that your chosen 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 Degree and Certificate Training Programs
There are several options available to get training as a welder in a trade or vocational school. You can earn a a certificate, a diploma or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are offered in Welding Engineering or Welding Technology, but are more advanced courses 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 common welding programs offered in the Steele Creek AK area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are normally made available by trade and technical schools and take about one year to complete. They are more hands-on training in nature, created primarily to develop welding skills. They can provide a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or specialized skills for working welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take 2 years to finish and are usually offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology offers 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 prerequisites for welders, so don't forget to check for your location of potential employment. As required, the welding school you choose should prep you for any licensing exams that you will have to take in addition to furnishing the proper training to become a professional welder.
Welding Certification Choices
There are multiple institutions that provide welding certifications, which evaluate the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Many Steele Creek AK employers not only require a certificate or degree from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a highly regarded organization like the American Welding Society (AWS). Different certifications are available based on the kind 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 specified metal thicknesses
- Work with certain kinds of welds
- Work according to contract specifications
As earlier mentioned, various cities, states or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those calling for licensing, many additionally require certification for various kinds of work. Certification is also a means to prove to employers that you are a highly skilled and knowledgeable welder. So similarly as with licensing, check the requirements for your local area and make certain that the welding tech school you decide on readies you for certification as needed.
Subjects to Ask Welding Tech Schools
As soon as you have decided on the credential you would like to attain, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can start to compare schools. As you can imagine, there are a large number of welder vocational and trade schools in the Steele Creek AK area. That's why it's necessary to determine up front what qualifications your selected school must have. We have already discussed 2 significant ones that many people consider first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As mentioned, although they are essential qualifiers, they are not the only ones that must be looked at. After all, the school you select 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 may need to consider before selecting a welding tech school.
Accreditation. It's extremely important that the welding tech school you choose is accredited by either a national or a regional organization. There are two standard types of accreditation. The school may attain Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a single program the school has, for instance 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 acknowledged accrediting organization, like the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). In addition to helping ensure that you receive an excellent education, the accreditation may also help in getting financial assistance or student loans, which are often not available in Steele Creek AK for schools that are not accredited. Also, for those states or municipalities that mandate licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited as well.
Apprenticeship and Job Assistance Programs. A large number of welding certificate or degree 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 considering assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. These schools must have relationships with local unions and various metal working businesses to which they can refer their students. More established schools may have a more substantial network of graduates that they can utilize for referrals. These programs can assist students in finding employment and develop relationships within the Steele Creek AK welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that begin an academic program and finish it. It's essential that the welder school you choose has a higher completion rate. A lower rate may mean that the students who were in the program were unhappy with the instruction, the instructors, 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 an excellent reputation within the trade, but additionally that it has the network of Steele Creek AK contacts to help students secure employment or apprenticeships after graduation.
Up-to-date Equipment and Facilities. After you have narrowed down your selection of welding programs to 2 or 3 possibilities, you should consider visiting the campuses to look over their facilities. Confirm that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be taught 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 uncertain 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 Steele Creek AK welding contractor if they can give you some pointers.
School Location. Even though we previously briefly covered the importance of location, there are a few additional points that we need to address. You should bear in mind that unless you have the ability to move, the welder program you choose must be within driving distance of your Steele Creek AK home. If you do decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, apart from moving expenses there could be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly true for welder degree programs offered by community colleges. Also, if the school provides an apprenticeship or job placement program, more than likely their placements are within the school's regional community. So the location of the school should be in an area or state where you ultimately will wish to work.
Smaller Classes. Individualized instruction is essential for a manual trade such as welding. It's possible to get lost in larger classes and not get much one-on-one training. Ask what the average class size is for the welder programs you are reviewing. Ask if you can attend some classes so that you can observe just how much individual attention the students are getting. While there, speak with a few of the students and get their opinions. Similarly, talk with a couple of the teachers and ask 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 employed at their present job. Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are considering are convenient enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Steele Creek AK, confirm that the schools you are reviewing offer those choices. If you can only enroll part-time, make certain that the school you pick offers part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the protocol is to make up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family circumstances.
Choose the Best Steele Creek Welding Training for Certification
Selecting the ideal welding training program will probably be the most critical decision you will make to start your new profession. As we have covered in this article, there are many factors that you will need to assess and compare between the programs you are looking at. It's a must that any welder school that you are evaluating includes a good deal of hands-on training. Classes need to be small in size and each student must have their personal welding machine to train on. Classroom education should offer a real-world perspective, and the curriculum should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Courses vary in length and the kind of credential offered, so you will need to ascertain what length of program and certificate or degree will best satisfy your needs. Every program provides different possibilities for certification also. Probably the best way to research your final list of schools is to go to each campus and speak with the teachers and students. Take the time to sit in on some classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the school you choose is the ideal one for you. With the right training, hard work and commitment, the final result will be a new career as a professional welder in Steele Creek AK.