How to Select the Right Welding Technical School near Wasilla Alaska
Selecting the right welding technical school near Wasilla AK is an essential first step to launching your new career as a professional welder. But since there are so many schools to choose from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more notably, once you have fine tuned your alternatives, how do you pick the right one? Most people start by checking out the schools that are nearest to their homes. When they have identified those that are within driving distance, they are drawn toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are crucial issues when reviewing welder technical schools, but they are not the only ones. Other concerns include such things as accreditation, reputation and job placement rates. So before initiating your search for a trade school to become a welder, it's wise to develop 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 Degree and Certificate Programs
There are a number of options to receive training as a welder in a trade or technical school. You can earn a diploma, a certificate or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are available in Welding Technology or Welding Engineering, but are more advanced courses than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available combined with an apprenticeship program. Following are brief explanations of the most common welding programs offered in the Wasilla AK area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are normally made available by technical and trade schools and require about a year to complete. They are more hands-on training in nature, fashioned primarily to teach 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 most often offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology provides a more well-rounded education than the certificate or diploma while still supplying the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
A number of municipalities and states do have licensing requirements for welders, so be sure to check for your location of future employment. If needed, the welder school you choose should prepare you for any licensing examinations that you will have to take in addition to providing the suitable training to become a professional welder.
Welder Certification Alternatives
There are several organizations that provide welder certifications, which test the knowledge and skill level of those applying. A large number of Wasilla AK employers not only expect a degree or certificate from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a highly regarded agency like the American Welding Society (AWS). A variety of certifications are offered based on the kind of work that the welder does. 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 specific kinds of welds
- Work based on contract specifications
As previously stated, some states, cities or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those calling for licensing, many additionally require certification for different types of work. Certification is also a means to demonstrate to employers that you are an extremely skilled and knowledgeable welder. So similarly as with licensing, look into the requirements for your location and make sure that the welding technical school you select readies you for certification if needed.
What to Ask Welding Tech Programs
When you have chosen the credential you would like to obtain, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can start to assess schools. As you probably know, there are numerous welding trade and vocational schools in the Wasilla AK area. That's why it's necessary to determine in advance what qualifications your selected school must have. We have previously discussed a couple of important ones that many people consider first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As stated, although they are essential qualifiers, they are not the only ones that must be considered. After all, the school you choose is going to provide the education that will be the foundation of your new vocation as a welder. So following are some additional factors you might need to consider before picking a welder technical school.
Accreditation. It's essential that the welding vocational school you pick is accredited by either a national or a regional organization. There are 2 basic kinds 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, for example Welding Technology. So confirm that the program you choose is accredited, not just the school itself. Additionally, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, for example the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping ensure that you obtain a superior education, the accreditation might also assist in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are often not offered in Wasilla 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.
Job Placement and Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of welding degree or certificate programs are offered combined with an apprenticeship program. Some other schools will assist in placing you in an apprenticeship or a job upon graduation. Find out if the schools you are considering assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. The schools should have partnerships with local unions and various metal working businesses to which they can place their students. Older schools may have a larger network of graduates that they can rely upon for referrals. These programs can help students find employment and establish associations within the Wasilla AK welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that begin an academic program and finish it. It's important that the welding program you select has a high completion rate. A reduced rate may signify that the students who joined the program were dissatisfied with the training, the teachers, or the facilities, and dropped out. The job placement rate is also a good indicator of the caliber of training. A high job placement rate will not only verify that the program has a good reputation within the trade, but additionally that it has the network of Wasilla AK contacts to help students obtain employment or apprenticeships after graduation.
Modern Equipment and Facilities. After you have decreased your selection of welder schools to two or three options, you should consider going to the campuses to inspect their facilities. Confirm that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are up-to-date. Specifically, 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 currently in an apprenticeship program, consult with the master welder you are working under for guidance. Otherwise, ask a local Wasilla AK welding contractor if they can give you a few pointers.
School Location. Although we previously briefly covered the relevance of location, there are a few additional issues that we need to deal with. You should remember that unless you can relocate, the welder school you select must be within commuting distance of your Wasilla AK home. If you do opt to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides moving costs there may be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly true for welding diploma 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 local community. So the location of the school needs to be in a region or state where you ultimately will desire to work.
Smaller Classes. Personalized training is important for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's possible to get overlooked in larger classes and not get much individualized training. Ask what the average class size is for the welder schools you are reviewing. Inquire if you can sit in on some classes so that you can experience just how much individual attention the students are receiving. While there, talk with a few of the students and get their evaluations. Also, talk to a few of the trainers and ask what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they hold.
Convenient Class Scheduling. Some people learn a new trade while still employed at their present job. Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are considering are convenient enough to meet your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Wasilla AK, confirm that the schools you are assessing offer those choices. If you can only enroll part-time, confirm that the school you pick offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the policy is to make up classes if you you miss any because of illness, work or family responsibilities.
Find the Right Wasilla Welding Course for Certification
Picking the ideal welding school will probably be the most critical decision you will make to begin your new career. As we have addressed in this article, there are a number of factors that you will need to examine and compare between the programs you are looking at. It's a must that any welder training that you are considering includes a good deal of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be small in size and each student must have their personal welding machine to train with. Classroom teaching should offer a real-world context, and the training program should be current and in-line with industry standards. Courses differ in duration and the kind of credential offered, so you will need to ascertain what length of program and credential will best serve your needs. Every training program provides unique possibilities for certification as well. Perhaps the best way to research your short list of schools is to check out each campus and speak with the teachers and students. Invest some time to attend some classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the training program you select is the best one for you. With the proper training, hard work and dedication, the final result will be a new trade as a professional welder in Wasilla AK.