How to Enroll In a Welding Technical School near Gakona Alaska
Finding the ideal welding technical school near Gakona AK is an important first step to launching your new career as a professional welder. But since there are numerous schools to choose from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more notably, once you have fine tuned your choices, how do you select the right one? A number of people start by looking at the schools that are closest to their homes. Once they have identified those that are within driving distance, they gravitate toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are crucial concerns when examining welding vocational schools, but they are not the only ones. Other concerns include such things as accreditation, reputation and job placement rates. So before beginning your search for a vocational school to become a welder, it’s wise to create a list of qualifications that your chosen school must have. But before we explore our due diligence checklist, let’s talk a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welder Certificate and Degree Training Classes
There are several options available to obtain training as a welder in a trade or vocational school. You can receive a diploma, a certificate or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are offered in Welding Technology or Welding Engineering, but are more advanced degrees than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available along with an apprenticeship program. Below are short summaries of the most prevalent welding programs offered in the Gakona AK.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are usually offered by trade and technical schools and take about 1 year to complete. They are more hands-on training in nature, created mainly to develop 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 complete 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 furnishing the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
Some states and municipalities do have licensing requirements for welders, therefore be sure to find out for your location of potential employment. If needed, the welding school you pick should prepare you for any licensing exams that you will need to take in addition to supplying the suitable training to become a professional welder.
Welding Certification Options
There are several institutions that offer welding certifications, which assess the knowledge and skill level of those applying. A large number of Gakona AK employers not only expect a certificate or degree from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a highly regarded agency like the American Welding Society (AWS). Different certifications are available based on the kind of work that the welder does. Some of the things that certification can attest to are the welder’s ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specific metal thicknesses
- Work with certain types of welds
- Work in compliance with contract specifications
As earlier stated, some cities, states or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those mandating licensing, a number additionally require certification for various types of work. Certification is also a means to demonstrate to employers that you are an extremely skilled and knowledgeable welder. So just as with licensing, check the requirements for your location and make sure that the welder vocational school you select prepares you for certification if needed.
Points to Ask Welding Vocational Schools
Once you have chosen the credential you would like to obtain, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can begin to evaluate schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are a large number of welding trade and technical schools in the Gakona AK area. That’s why it’s necessary to decide in advance what qualifications your chosen school must have. We have already covered a couple of significant ones that most people consider first, which are location and tuition cost. As mentioned, although they are essential qualifications, they are not the only ones that must be considered. After all, the school you pick is going to furnish the training that will be the foundation of your new vocation as a welder. So below are some additional factors you might need to consider before choosing a welder vocational school.
Accreditation. It’s essential 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 attain Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a single program the school offers, for example Welding Technology. So make certain 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 organization, like the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping ensure that you receive a superior education, the accreditation may also help in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently unavailable in Gakona AK for schools that are not accredited. Finally, for those states or municipalities that mandate licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited as well.
Job Assistance and Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous welding diploma or degree programs are offered combined with an apprenticeship program. Some other schools will assist in placing you in a job or an apprenticeship upon graduation. Ask if the schools you are considering 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 refer their students. Older schools may have a more substantial network of graduates that they can utilize for placements. These programs can assist students in finding employment and develop relationships within the Gakona 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 pick has a high completion rate. A reduced rate could mean that the students who were in the program were dissatisfied with the training, the instructors, or the facilities, and quit. The job placement rate is also a good indicator of the caliber of training. A higher job placement rate will not only confirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the trade, but additionally that it has the network of Gakona AK contacts to assist students secure apprenticeships or employment upon graduation.
Modern Facilities and Equipment. Once you have narrowed down your selection of welding schools to two or three possibilities, you should consider visiting the campuses to evaluate their facilities. Make sure that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be instructed on are modern. In particular, the training equipment should be comparable to what you will be working with 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. If not, ask a local Gakona AK welding contractor if they can give you a few tips.
School Location. Even though we already briefly talked about the importance of location, there are a couple of additional issues that we need to deal with. You should bear in mind that unless you are able to move, the welding program you pick must be within driving distance of your Gakona AK home. If you do opt to attend an out-of-state school, besides moving expenses there might be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly the case for welding certificate programs offered by community colleges. Furthermore, if the school provides 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 an area or state where you ultimately will desire to work.
Small Classes. Individualized training is important for a manual trade such as welding. It’s easy to be lost in larger classes and not obtain much individualized instruction. Find out what the usual class size is for the welding schools you are looking at. Ask if you can attend a few classes so that you can see how much personal attention the students are receiving. While there, speak with several of the students and get their opinions. Also, talk with a couple of the trainers and ask what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they hold.
Flexible Class Schedules. Lots of folks learn a new profession while still working at their current job. Check to see that the class schedules for the programs you are looking at are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Gakona AK, verify that the schools you are assessing offer those choices. If you can only enroll part-time, make certain that the school you choose offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the protocol is to make up classes if you you miss any due to work, sickness or family responsibilities.
Enrolling in a Welding School Near Gakona AK?
Perhaps you live in the Gakona Alaska area, or have decided to enroll in a Welding Program that has a campus near there. In either case, you may find this bit of history both interesting and informative.
Gakona /ɡəˈkoʊnə/ (Ggax Kuna’ in Ahtna Athabascan) is a census-designated place (CDP) in the Valdez-Cordova Census Area in the U.S. state of Alaska. As of the 2010 census, the population of the CDP was 218, up from 215 in 2000.
Gakona is located at 62°18′17″N 145°16′24″W / 62.30472°N 145.27333°W / 62.30472; -145.27333 (62.301940, -145.30194) (Sec. 18, T006N, R001E, Copper River Meridian). It is positioned in the Chitina Recording District in the center of Copper Valley, surrounded by mountains and the Copper River.
Gakona is at the confluence of the Copper and Gakona rivers, 15 miles (24 km) northeast of Glennallen. It lies at mile 2 on the Tok Cut-Off to the Glenn Highway, just east of the Richardson Highway. Gakona is located in the continental climate zone, with long, cold winters and relatively warm summers. Temperature extremes have been recorded from −62 to 91 °F (−52 to 33 °C). Snowfall averages 61 inches (150 cm), with total precipitation of 13 inches (330 mm) per year.
Online Welding Degree and Certificate Programs
Welding is truly a manual kind of vocation, and therefore not very suitable for training online. However, there are a few online welding programs offered by various community colleges and trade schools in the greater Gakona AK area that may be credited toward a degree or certificate program. These courses mainly cover such topics as safety, reading blueprints, and metallurgy. They can help provide a beginner a foundation to begin their education and training. Nevertheless, the most significant point is that you can’t learn how to weld or work with welding materials until you actually do it. Obviously that can’t be done online. These skills have to be learned in an on-campus setting or in an apprenticeship. Online or distance learning is more appropriate for seasoned welders that want to advance their knowledge or perhaps obtain a more advanced degree. So if you should find an online welding certificate or degree program, be extremely careful and make sure that the majority of the training is done on campus or in a workshop type of environment.
Find the Right Welding Technical Program Gakona AK
Selecting the ideal welder school will undoubtedly be the most important decision you will make to start your new profession. As we have covered in this article, there are a number of things that you will need to evaluate and compare among the programs you are reviewing. It’s a prerequisite that any welder training that you are assessing includes a considerable amount of hands-on training. Classes should be smaller in size and every student must have their own welding machine to train with. Classroom teaching needs to offer a real-world perspective, and the course of study should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Training programs differ in length and the kind of credential provided, so you will have to decide what length of program and certificate or degree will best satisfy your needs. Every program provides unique options for certification as well. Perhaps the best way to research your final list of schools is to go to each campus and speak with the students and faculty. Take the time to sit in on a few classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the school you choose is the right one for you. With the right training, hard work and dedication, the final result will be a new career as a professional welder in Gakona AK.