How to Enroll In the Best Welding Certification Classes near Sterling Alaska
Locating the right welder technical school near Sterling AK is an important first step to beginning your new career as a professional welder. But since there are a lot of schools to pick from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more significantly, once you have narrowed down your options, how do you pick the right one? Many prospective students start by checking out the schools that are closest to their homes. When they have found those that are within commuting distance, they are drawn toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and tuition cost are crucial concerns when evaluating welding trade schools, but they are not the only ones. Other considerations 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 establish 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 Certificate and Degree Training
There are several alternatives available to obtain training as a welder in a trade or technical school. You can obtain 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 prevalent welding programs available in the Sterling AK area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are normally made available by technical and trade schools and take about 1 year to finish. They are more hands-on training in scope, designed primarily to develop 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 two years to complete and are usually offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology furnishes a more well-rounded education than the certificate or diploma while still furnishing the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
Many states and municipalities do have licensing requirements for welders, so be sure to find out for your location of future employment. As needed, the welder school you choose should ready you for any licensing exams that you will have to take in addition to supplying the suitable training to become a qualified welder.
Welder Certification Alternatives
There are several organizations that provide welding certifications, which test the knowledge and skill level of those applying. Numerous Sterling AK employers not only expect a certificate or degree from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a highly regarded agency like the American Welding Society (AWS). Different certifications are offered based upon the type of work that the welder does. A few of the things that certification can acknowledge are the welder's ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specific metal thicknesses
- Work with certain kinds of welds
- Work based on contract specifications
As formerly stated, various cities, states or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those requiring licensing, a number additionally require certification for various kinds of work. Certification is also a way to prove to employers that you are an exceptionally skilled and experienced welder. So similarly as with licensing, check the requirements for your local area and make sure that the welder technical school you choose readies you for certification as needed.
What to Ask Welder Technical Programs
Once you have chosen the credential you would like to earn, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can begin to compare schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are numerous welding vocational and trade schools in the Sterling AK area. That's why it's important to determine in advance what qualifications your chosen school must have. We have already discussed two important ones that many people look at first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As stated, although they are very important qualifiers, they are not the only ones that need to be considered. After all, the program you decide on is going to furnish the training that will be the foundation of your new career as a welder. So following are some additional factors you might want to consider before choosing a welding vocational school.
Accreditation. It's very important that the welder tech school you decide on is accredited by either a national or a regional agency. There are two 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, such as Welding Technology. So make sure that the program you choose is accredited, not just the school alone. 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). In addition to helping make sure that you get a quality education, the accreditation may also assist in securing financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not available in Sterling AK for non-accredited schools. Also, for those states or local governments that mandate licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited also.
Apprenticeship and Job Placement Programs. A large number of welding degree or certificate programs are provided combined with an apprenticeship program. Some 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 placement program. The schools should have partnerships with local unions and other metal working businesses to which they can refer their students. Older 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 Sterling 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 important that the welder school you pick has a higher completion rate. A lower rate could indicate that the students who enrolled in the program were dissatisfied with the instruction, the instructors, or the facilities, and quit. The job placement rate is also a good indicator of the quality of training. A higher job placement rate will not only verify that the program has an excellent reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of Sterling AK employer relationships to assist students secure employment or apprenticeships after graduation.
Modern Equipment and Facilities. After you have narrowed down your selection of welder programs to 2 or 3 possibilities, you should think out going to the campuses to look over their facilities. Make sure that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are up-to-date. In particular, 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. Otherwise, ask a local Sterling AK welding contractor if they can give you some pointers.
School Location. Even though we already briefly talked about the importance of location, there are a couple of additional points that we should deal with. You should keep in mind that unless you are able to move, the welder school you pick must be within driving distance of your Sterling AK home. If you do decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides moving expenses there may be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially the case for welding degree programs offered by community colleges. Furthermore, 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 want to work.
Smaller Classes. One-on-one training is essential for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's possible to be overlooked in bigger classes and not receive much one-on-one instruction. Ask what the typical class size is for the welder programs you are looking at. Inquire if you can attend a couple of classes so that you can see how much individual attention the students are getting. While there, talk with some of the students and get their evaluations. Similarly, talk with some of the teachers and ask what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they hold.
Flexible Class Scheduling. Lots of folks learn a new trade while still working at their present job. Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are reviewing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Sterling AK, make sure that the schools you are assessing provide those alternatives. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you pick offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the protocol is to make up classes if you you miss any because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Choose the Right Sterling Welding School for Certification
Choosing the best welder school will probably be the most important decision you will make to start your new career. As we have discussed in this article, there are several things that you will need to evaluate and compare between the schools you are considering. It's a necessity that any welding school that you are considering includes a lot of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be small in size and every student should have their own welding machine to train with. Classroom education should provide a real-world context, and the course of study should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Training programs differ in length and the type of credential provided, so you will have to ascertain what length of program and credential will best satisfy your needs. Every program offers different options for certification also. Perhaps the best means to research your final list of schools is to check out each campus and speak with the faculty and students. Take the time to monitor a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the school you pick is the ideal one for you. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, the end result will be a new occupation as a professional welder in Sterling AK.