How to Enroll In the Best Welding Certificate Program near Wasilla Alaska
Enrolling in the right welding trade 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 pick from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more importantly, once you have fine tuned your alternatives, how do you select the best one? Many prospective students start by reviewing the schools that are closest to their residences. Once they have identified those that are within commuting distance, they are drawn toward the least costly one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are important issues when evaluating welder technical 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 create a list of qualifications that your selected 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
There are multiple options to receive training as a welder in a trade or technical school. You can obtain a diploma, a certificate or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are available 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 short summaries of the most prevalent welding programs offered 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, fashioned mainly to develop welding skills. They can provide a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or specialized skills for experienced welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take 2 years to finish and are most often offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology furnishes a more extensive education than the certificate or diploma while still providing the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
Some municipalities and states do have licensing prerequisites for welders, therefore make sure to check for your location of potential employment. If needed, the welder school you choose should prep you for any licensing examinations that you will need to take in addition to providing the proper training to become a qualified welder.
Welding Certification Alternatives
There are several institutions that offer welding 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 program, but also certification from a renowned organization like the American Welding Society (AWS). A variety of certifications are offered based upon the kind of work that the welder performs. A few of the things that certification can acknowledge are the welder's ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specific metal thicknesses
- Work with certain kinds of welds
- Operate based on contract specifications
As earlier stated, some cities, states 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 a highly skilled and qualified welder. So just as with licensing, check the requirements for your local area and confirm that the welding tech school you choose readies you for certification if needed.
What to Ask Welder Trade Programs
As soon as you have decided on the credential you want to earn, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can begin to evaluate schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are numerous welding vocational and trade schools in the Wasilla AK area. That's why it's essential to determine in advance what qualifications your selected school must have. We have already covered two significant ones that most people look at 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 program you decide on is going to provide the training that will be the foundation of your new career as a welder. So following are more factors you may want to consider before picking a welder technical school.
Accreditation. It's essential that the welder technical school you pick is accredited by either a national or a regional organization. There are two standard 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 make certain that the program you pick is accredited, not just the school itself. Additionally, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, for example the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping make sure that you obtain a superior education, the accreditation may also help in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable in Wasilla AK for non-accredited schools. Finally, for those states or local governments that mandate licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited also.
Apprenticeship and Job Placement Programs. Many welder certificate or degree programs are offered combined with an apprenticeship program. Some other schools will assist in placing you in a job or an apprenticeship after graduation. Find out if the schools you are looking at help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. These schools should have relationships with local unions and other metal working businesses to which they can place their students. More established schools may have a larger network of graduates that they can utilize for placements. These programs can assist students in finding employment and establish relationships within the Wasilla AK welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that enroll in an academic program and complete it. It's important that the welder program you pick has a high completion rate. A low rate could mean that the students who enrolled in the program were unhappy with the training, the instructors, 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 an excellent reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of Wasilla AK employer relationships to assist students obtain apprenticeships or employment after graduation.
Modern Equipment and Facilities. Once you have limited your selection of welding schools to 2 or 3 options, you should consider visiting the campuses to look over their facilities. Verify 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 using in the field. 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 professional if they can give you some pointers.
School Location. Even though we previously briefly covered the importance of location, there are a couple of additional points that we need to cover. You should keep in mind that unless you have the ability to relocate, the welding program you choose needs to be within driving distance of your Wasilla AK home. If you do opt to enroll in an out-of-state school, apart from moving expenses there might be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly the case for welder degree programs offered by community colleges. Also, if the school provides an apprenticeship or job placement program, most likely their placements are within the school's regional community. So the location of the school needs to be in an area or state where you subsequently will desire to work.
Small Classes. Personalized training is important for a manual trade such as welding. It's easy to get lost in bigger classes and not obtain much individualized instruction. Find out what the usual class size is for the welder schools you are reviewing. Inquire 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. Also, speak with a couple of the trainers and ask what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they have earned.
Flexible Class Scheduling. Some people learn a new profession while still working at their present job. Check to see that the class schedules for the programs you are considering are flexible enough to satisfy your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Wasilla AK, make sure that the schools you are looking at 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 work, sickness or family emergencies.
Choose the Right Wasilla Welding Program for Certification
Choosing the ideal welding school will undoubtedly be the most important decision you will make to begin your new profession. As we have covered in this article, there are several factors that you will need to assess and compare between the schools you are looking at. It's a necessity that any welding training that you are evaluating includes a good deal of hands-on instruction. Classes should be small in size and every student should have their own 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. Training programs vary in length and the type of credential provided, so you will need to ascertain what length of program and degree or certificate will best satisfy your needs. Every program offers unique possibilities for certification as well. Perhaps The ideal approach to research your final 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 choose is the ideal one for you. With the proper training, effort and dedication, the final outcome will be a new trade as a professional welder in Wasilla AK.