How to Pick the Best Welder Training Program near Sterling Alaska
Enrolling in the ideal welding vocational school near Sterling AK is an important first step to launching your new career as a professional welder. But since there are so many schools to choose from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more significantly, once you have fine tuned your choices, how do you select the best one? A number of prospective students begin by checking out the schools that are closest to their homes. When they have located those that are within driving distance, they gravitate toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and tuition cost are crucial issues 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 vocational school to become a welder, it's prudent 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.
Welder Certificate and Degree Programs
There are a number of options available to obtain training as a welder in a technical or trade school. You can obtain a a certificate, a diploma or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are available in Welding Technology or Welding Engineering, but are more advanced programs than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also offered combined with an apprenticeship program. Below are brief summaries of the most common welding programs available in the Sterling AK area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are usually offered by trade and technical schools and take about one year to complete. They are more hands-on training in scope, designed primarily to develop welding skills. They can furnish a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or additional 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 certificate or diploma while still furnishing the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
Some states and municipalities do have licensing prerequisites for welders, therefore make sure to find out for your location of future employment. As required, the welder school you choose should prep you for any licensing examinations that you will have to take in addition to providing the appropriate training to become a professional welder.
Welding Certification Choices
There are a number of institutions that provide welding certifications, which evaluate the knowledge and skill level of those applying. A large number of Sterling AK employers not only demand a certificate or degree from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a renowned organization like the American Welding Society (AWS). Different certifications are offered dependent on the kind of work that the welder does. Just some 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
- Perform based on contract specifications
As formerly stated, various states, cities or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those requiring licensing, many additionally require certification for different kinds of work. Certification is also a means to prove to employers that you are a highly skilled and qualified welder. So just as with licensing, check the requirements for your location and make certain that the welding vocational school you decide on prepares you for certification if needed.
Questions to Ask Welder Vocational Schools
After you have chosen the credential you would like to obtain, a certificate, diploma or degree, 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 Sterling AK area. That's why it's necessary to determine up front what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have already discussed two significant ones that many 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 looked at. After all, the program you select is going to provide the training that will be the foundation of your new vocation as a welder. So following are some additional factors you may need to evaluate before selecting a welder trade school.
Accreditation. It's very important that the welder technical school you decide on is accredited by either a national or a regional organization. There are 2 basic types of accreditation. The school may receive Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a specific program the school has, such as Welding Technology. So confirm that the program you choose is accredited, not just the school alone. Additionally, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, such as the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). In addition to helping ensure that you receive an excellent education, the accreditation can also assist in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases 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. Numerous welder certificate or degree programs are offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Other schools will help place you in an apprenticeship or a job after graduation. Ask if the schools you are looking at assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. These schools must 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 utilize for placements. These programs can help students find employment and establish associations 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 complete it. It's crucial that the welding school you select has a higher completion rate. A lower rate may indicate that the students who were in the program were unhappy with the instruction, the teachers, or the facilities, and dropped out. The job placement rate is also a good indicator of the quality of training. A higher job placement rate will not only confirm that the program has an excellent reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of Sterling AK contacts to assist students secure apprenticeships or employment after graduation.
Up-to-date Equipment and Facilities. Once you have decreased your selection of welder programs to two or three possibilities, you should think out going to the campuses to evaluate their facilities. Verify that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be trained on are modern. In particular, the training equipment should be comparable to what you will be using in the field. 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 Sterling AK welding professional if they can give you a few suggestions.
School Location. Even though we previously briefly covered the relevance of location, there are a couple of additional issues that we need to cover. You should keep in mind that unless you can move, the welding school you pick must be within driving distance of your Sterling AK home. If you do choose to enroll in an out-of-state school, apart from moving costs there might be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly the case for welder degree programs offered by community colleges. Furthermore, if the school offers a job placement or apprenticeship 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 subsequently will wish to work.
Small Classes. Personalized training is essential for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's easy to be overlooked in bigger classes and not receive much individualized instruction. Ask what the average class size is for the welder programs you are looking at. Ask if you can attend a few 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 feedback. Also, speak with some of the instructors and ask what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they have earned.
Convenient Class Schedules. Lots of folks learn a new profession while still working at their present job. Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are convenient enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Sterling AK, make certain that the schools you are reviewing provide those choices. If you can only enroll part-time, verify that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the protocol is to make up classes if you you miss any because of work, sickness or family circumstances.
Choose the Right Sterling Welding Training for Certification
Selecting the best welding school will undoubtedly be the most critical decision you will make to launch your new profession. As we have addressed in this article, there are several factors that you will need to assess and compare among the programs you are considering. It's a prerequisite that any welding training program that you are examining includes a considerable amount of hands-on training. Classes need to be small in size and every student should have their own welding machine to train on. Classroom education needs to provide a real-world context, and the course of study should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Training programs differ in duration and the type of credential offered, so you will need to decide what length of program and degree or certificate will best serve your needs. Every program offers different possibilities for certification also. Probably The ideal means to research your final list of schools is to check out each campus and speak with the students and faculty. Invest some time to sit in on some classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the training program you pick is the best one for you. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, the end result will be a new trade as a professional welder in Sterling AK.