How to Select the Right Welder Vocational School near Wasilla Alaska
Selecting the ideal welding school near Wasilla AK is an essential first step to launching your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are so many schools to select from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more significantly, once you have narrowed down your alternatives, how do you select the best one? Most prospective students begin by looking at the schools that are closest to their homes. When they have identified those that are within driving distance, they are drawn toward the least costly one. Yes, location and tuition cost are crucial considerations when reviewing welder trade schools, but they are not the only ones. Other concerns include such things as accreditation, reputation and job placement rates. So before starting your search for a vocational school to become a welder, it's sensible 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 Programs
There are multiple alternatives available to obtain training as a welder in a trade or technical school. You can earn a diploma, a certificate or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are offered in Welding Engineering or Welding Technology, but are more advanced programs than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available along with an apprenticeship program. Following are short explanations of the most prevalent welding programs available in the Wasilla AK area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are generally offered by technical and trade schools and require about 1 year to finish. 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 two 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 diploma or certificate while still providing the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
A number of states and municipalities do have licensing prerequisites for welders, therefore don't forget to check for your location of future employment. If needed, the welder school you select should prep you for any licensing exams that you will have to take in addition to supplying the suitable training to become a qualified welder.
Welding Certification Alternatives
There are a number of institutions that offer welder certifications, which evaluate 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 renowned organization like the American Welding Society (AWS). A variety of certifications are available based on the type 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 specific kinds of welds
- Work according to contract specifications
As formerly stated, various states, cities or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those mandating licensing, some also require certification for different kinds of work. Certification is also a way to prove to employers that you are an extremely skilled and knowledgeable welder. So just as with licensing, check the requirements for your location and verify that the welder vocational school you select readies you for certification if needed.
Questions to Ask Welding Trade Schools
Once you have chosen the credential you would like to attain, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can start to evaluate schools. As you probably know, there are numerous welding vocational and trade schools in the Wasilla AK area. That's why it's essential to decide up front what qualifications your selected school must have. We have already discussed a couple of significant ones that many people consider first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As stated, although they are very important qualifications, they are not the only ones that should be considered. After all, the program you pick is going to provide the training that will be the foundation of your new profession as a welder. So below are some additional factors you might want to evaluate before choosing a welder tech school.
Accreditation. It's essential that the welding tech school you select is accredited by either a regional or a national agency. There are 2 standard kinds of accreditation. The school may attain Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a single program the school offers, for instance Welding Technology. So verify 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 organization, such as the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). In addition to helping ensure that you get a quality education, the accreditation may also help in getting financial assistance or student loans, which are often not available 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.
Apprenticeship and Job Placement Programs. Many welding degree or diploma programs are offered combined with an apprenticeship program. Various other schools will assist in placing you in an apprenticeship or a job upon graduation. Find out if the schools you are reviewing help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. These schools must have partnerships with local unions and other metal working businesses to which they can place 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 Wasilla AK welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that start an educational program and complete it. It's important that the welder school you pick has a high completion rate. A lower rate might mean that the students who were in the program were unhappy with the training, the teachers, or the facilities, and quit. The job placement rate is also an indication of the quality of training. A high job placement rate will not only verify that the school has an excellent reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of Wasilla AK employer relationships to help students secure employment or apprenticeships after graduation.
Modern Equipment and Facilities. After you have narrowed down your selection of welder programs to two or three options, you should consider going to the campuses to evaluate their facilities. Confirm 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 in the field. If you are unsure 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 Wasilla AK welding professional if they can give you some tips.
School Location. Even though we previously briefly covered the significance of location, there are a few additional issues that we should address. You should keep in mind that unless you are able to move, the welder program you pick needs to be within driving distance of your Wasilla AK home. If you do decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, apart from relocation expenses there might be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially true for welding certificate programs offered by community colleges. Furthermore, if the school offers 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 subsequently will wish to work.
Small Classes. Individualized instruction is essential for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's easy to be overlooked in bigger classes and not obtain much individualized training. Ask what the typical class size is for the welding programs you are reviewing. Inquire if you can attend a couple of classes so that you can observe just how much personal attention the students are getting. While there, talk with a few of the students and get their feedback. Similarly, chat with a few of the instructors and ask what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they have earned.
Convenient Class Schedules. Some people learn a new trade while still working at their current job. Make sure that the class schedules for the schools you are reviewing are convenient enough to satisfy your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Wasilla AK, make certain that the schools you are considering provide those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the protocol is to make up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Find the Best Wasilla Welding Training for Certification
Choosing the right welder school will probably be the most important decision you will make to launch your new trade. As we have addressed in this article, there are several factors that you will need to examine and compare among the schools you are reviewing. It's a necessity that any welder training program that you are examining includes a considerable amount of hands-on instruction. Classes should be smaller in size and every student should have their own welding machine to train on. Classroom instruction needs to offer a real-world context, and the training program should be current and conform with industry standards. Programs vary in length and the kind of credential provided, so you will have to ascertain what length of program and credential will best serve your needs. Each program offers unique possibilities for certification also. Perhaps the best approach to research your final list of schools is to check out each campus and talk with the students and instructors. Invest some time to sit in on a few classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the program you decide on is the ideal one for you. With the right training, effort and commitment, the end result will be a new trade as a professional welder in Wasilla AK.