How to Pick a Welding Technical School near Nikiski Alaska
Locating the right welding trade school near Nikiski AK is an important first step to beginning 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 narrowed down your choices, how do you pick the right one? Many prospective students start by checking out the schools that are nearest to their homes. Once they have located those that are within commuting distance, they gravitate toward the least costly one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are crucial issues when evaluating welding trade 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 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.
Welding Certificate and Degree Training Classes
There are multiple options available to get training as a welder in a trade or vocational school. You can obtain 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 offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Following are short summaries of the most common welding programs offered in the Nikiski AK.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are normally offered by trade and technical schools and require about one year to complete. They are more hands-on training in nature, created primarily to develop welding skills. They can provide a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or specialized skills for working welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take two years to complete and are usually offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology offers a more well-rounded education than the certificate or diploma while still providing the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
Some states and municipalities do have licensing prerequisites for welders, therefore be sure to check for your location of potential employment. If needed, the welder school you select should prep you for any licensing exams that you will need to pass in addition to providing the proper training to become a professional welder.
Welding Certification Choices
There are multiple organizations that offer welder certifications, which test the knowledge and skill level of those applying. A large number of Nikiski AK employers not only require a certificate or degree from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a renowned agency like the American Welding Society (AWS). Different certifications are offered based upon the type of work that the welder performs. Just some of the things that certification can acknowledge are the welder’s ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specified metal thicknesses
- Work with certain kinds of welds
- Operate according to contract specifications
As earlier mentioned, some states, cities or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those requiring licensing, a number also require certification for different kinds of work. Certification is also a means to prove to employers that you are an extremely skilled and experienced welder. So just as with licensing, check the requirements for your location and confirm that the welder tech school you choose prepares you for certification as needed.
Questions to Ask Welder Trade Programs
When you have chosen the credential you would like to attain, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can start to evaluate schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are numerous welding trade and vocational schools in the Nikiski AK area. That’s why it’s important to establish in advance what qualifications your selected school must have. We have already covered two important ones that many people consider first, which are location and tuition cost. As mentioned, although they are very important qualifiers, they are not the only ones that need to be considered. 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 some additional factors you might need to consider before choosing a welder tech school.
Accreditation. It’s essential that the welding tech school you choose is accredited by either a national or a regional agency. There are 2 standard types of accreditation. The school may attain Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a specific program the school offers, such as Welding Technology. So make sure that the program you pick is accredited, not just the school alone. Additionally, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, like the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping make sure that you receive a superior education, the accreditation may also help in getting financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable in Nikiski AK for schools that are not accredited. Also, for those states or local governments that require licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited also.
Apprenticeship and Job Placement Programs. A large number of welding certificate or degree programs are offered combined with an apprenticeship program. 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 assistance program. These schools should have associations with local unions and other metal working businesses to which they can refer 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 develop associations within the Nikiski AK welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that start an educational program and complete it. It’s important that the welder school you select has a high completion rate. A reduced rate might mean that the students who enrolled in the program were dissatisfied with the instruction, 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 affirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of Nikiski AK contacts to help students obtain employment or apprenticeships upon graduation.
Up-to-date Equipment and Facilities. Once you have narrowed down your choice of welding schools to 2 or 3 options, you should consider visiting the campuses to evaluate their facilities. Make sure that both the equipment and the facilities 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 uncertain 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 Nikiski AK welding professional if they can give you a few suggestions.
School Location. Although we previously briefly covered the relevance of location, there are a couple of additional points that we need to deal with. You should bear in mind that unless you have the ability to relocate, the welder school you select must be within driving distance of your Nikiski AK home. If you do opt to attend an out-of-state school, apart from relocation expenses there may be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially true for welding degree programs offered by community colleges. Also, 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 ultimately will wish to work.
Small Classes. Personalized instruction is essential for a manual trade such as welding. It’s easy to get lost in bigger classes and not get much personalized training. Find out what the usual class size is for the welder programs you are looking at. Ask if you can sit in on some classes so that you can see how much personal attention the students are receiving. While there, talk with several of the students and get their feedback. Similarly, speak with a couple of the trainers and ask what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they hold.
Convenient Class Schedules. Some people learn a new profession while still working at their present job. Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are convenient enough to meet your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Nikiski AK, make sure that the schools you are assessing provide those alternatives. If you can only enroll part-time, confirm that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the policy is to make up classes should you miss any because of illness, work or family circumstances.
Enrolling in a Welding School Near Nikiski AK?
Perhaps you live in the Nikiski 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.
Nikiski is located at 60°42′28″N 151°15′46″W / 60.70778°N 151.26278°W / 60.70778; -151.26278 (60.707891, -151.262646) on the west side of the Kenai Peninsula. It lies along the shore of Cook Inlet between Salamatof to the south and the Swanson River to the northeast. It is bordered across the Swanson River by the Point Possession CDP.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the Nikiski CDP has a total area of 75.9 square miles (196.7 km2), of which 69.4 square miles (179.8 km2) are land and 6.5 square miles (16.8 km2), or 8.57%, are water. The CDP is in a low-lying region covered by several lakes, including Stormy Lake, Suneva Lake, Daniels Lake, Timberlost Lake, Island Lake, Foreland Lake, Bernice Lake, and Cabin Lake.
Nikiski first appeared on the 1880 U.S. Census as the unincorporated Tinneh villages of "Kultuk" (AKA Nikishka No. 3) and "Titukilsk and Nikishka". Kultuk had a population of 17, and Titukilsk and Nikishka had a population of 57, all of whom were Tinneh Natives. There apparently were no census reports from 1880 until 1980, when the area was organized as "Nikishka" and made a census-designated place (CDP). The name was altered to "Nikiski" in 1990 and has reported as such on each successive census.
Online Welder Training
Welding is very much a hands-on type of vocation, and therefore not very compatible with training online. However, there are a few online welding programs offered by certain community colleges and trade schools in the greater Nikiski AK area that may count toward a certificate or degree program. These courses mainly cover such topics as safety, reading blueprints, and metallurgy. They can help provide a beginner a basis to start their training and education. Nevertheless, the most critical point is that you can’t learn how to weld or use welding materials until you actually do it. Obviously that can’t be performed online. These skills must be learned in an on-campus setting or in an apprenticeship. Online or distance learning is more appropriate for experienced welders that would like to advance their expertise or perhaps attain a more advanced degree. So if you should come across an online welding certificate or degree program, be extremely careful and verify that the majority of the training is done on campus or in a workshop type of environment.
Select the Best Welding Tech Program Nikiski AK
Picking the right welding school will undoubtedly be the most critical decision you will make to launch your new trade. As we have discussed in this article, there are several factors that you will need to evaluate and compare between the schools you are considering. It’s a must that any welder training program that you are evaluating includes a lot of hands-on training. Classes should be smaller in size and each student must have their own welding machine to train with. Classroom instruction 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 kind of credential provided, so you will have to decide what length of program and degree or certificate will best fulfill your needs. Every program provides unique possibilities for certification as well. Perhaps the best means to research your short list of schools is to go to each campus and speak with the faculty and students. Take the time to sit in on a few classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the school you decide on is the ideal one for you. With the right training, effort and dedication, the final result will be a new career as a professional welder in Nikiski AK.