How to Choose a Welder Trade School near Anchorage Alaska
Selecting the ideal welder trade school near Anchorage AK is an essential first step to beginning your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are so many schools to choose from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more significantly, once you have narrowed down your alternatives, how do you pick the right one? Most prospective students begin by reviewing the schools that are closest to their homes. Once they have located those that are within commuting distance, they gravitate toward the least expensive one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are crucial issues when examining welder trade schools, but they are not the only ones. Other factors 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 wise to establish a list of qualifications that your selected school must have. But before we examine our due diligence checklist, let’s talk a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welding Certificate and Degree Training Courses
There are multiple options to obtain training as a welder in a technical or trade school. You can receive a diploma, a certificate or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are offered in Welding Engineering or Welding Technology, but are more advanced courses than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available along with an apprenticeship program. Following are brief descriptions of the most typical welding programs offered in the Anchorage AK.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are usually made available by technical and trade schools and take about one year to complete. They are more hands-on training in nature, created largely to develop welding skills. They can furnish a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or specialized skills for experienced 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 extensive education than the certificate or diploma while still supplying the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
Some municipalities and states do have licensing requirements for welders, so don’t forget to check for your location of potential employment. As needed, the welder school you choose should prepare you for any licensing exams that you will need to pass in addition to furnishing the proper training to become a qualified welder.
Welding Certification Alternatives
There are multiple organizations that provide welding certifications, which test the skill level and knowledge of those applying. A large number of Anchorage AK employers not only require a certificate or degree from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a highly regarded agency like the American Welding Society (AWS). A wide range of certifications are offered based upon the type of work that the welder performs. Just some of the skills that certification can acknowledge are the welder’s ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with certain metal thicknesses
- Work with specific kinds of welds
- Operate in compliance with contract specifications
As already mentioned, various states, cities or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those mandating licensing, a number also require certification for various types of work. Certification is also a way to prove to employers that you are an exceptionally skilled and knowledgeable welder. So similarly as with licensing, look into the requirements for your location and make sure that the welder vocational school you choose readies you for certification as needed.
How to Decide on a Welding Tech Program
As soon as you have decided on the credential you want to obtain, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can begin to compare schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are numerous welder vocational and trade schools in the Anchorage AK area. That’s why it’s necessary to decide up front what qualifications your chosen school must have. We have previously discussed two significant ones that most 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 should be considered. After all, the school you choose is going to provide the training that will be the foundation of your new profession as a welder. So following are more factors you might want to evaluate before selecting a welder trade school.
Accreditation. It’s very important that the welding tech school you choose is accredited by either a national or a regional organization. There are 2 standard kinds of accreditation. The school may receive Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a single program the school has, for instance Welding Technology. So make certain that the program you select is accredited, not just the school itself. Additionally, 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 make sure that you get an excellent education, the accreditation can also help in getting financial aid or student loans, which are frequently unavailable in Anchorage AK for non-accredited schools. Also, for those states or local governments that mandate licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited also.
Job Placement and Apprenticeship Programs. Many welder diploma or degree programs are provided in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Various other schools will help place you in a job or an apprenticeship upon graduation. Find out if the schools you are considering help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. These schools must have associations 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 utilize for referrals. These programs can help students find employment and establish associations within the Anchorage AK welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that start an educational program and complete it. It’s essential that the welder school you pick has a higher completion rate. A lower rate may signify that the students who enrolled 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 higher 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 Anchorage AK employer relationships to assist students secure employment or apprenticeships upon graduation.
Up-to-date Facilities and Equipment. Once you have decreased your choice of welder schools to two or three options, you should consider going to the campuses to evaluate their facilities. Verify that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are up-to-date. Specifically, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be working with in the field. If you are not sure 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 Anchorage AK welding professional if they can give you a few suggestions.
School Location. Even though we already briefly covered the relevance of location, there are a couple of additional issues that we need to address. You should bear in mind that unless you are able to relocate, the welder school you select must be within driving distance of your Anchorage AK home. If you do choose to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation expenses there may be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially the case for welder certificate programs offered by community colleges. Also, if the school offers a job placement or apprenticeship program, often their placements are within the school’s regional community. So the location of the school should be in a region or state where you subsequently will want to work.
Small Classes. One-on-one instruction is essential for a hands-on trade such as welding. It’s easy to get overlooked in bigger classes and not get much individualized instruction. Ask what the typical class size is for the welder schools you are looking at. Inquire if you can sit in on some classes so that you can witness just how much individual attention the students are receiving. While there, talk with several of the students and get their feedback. Similarly, speak with a couple of the teachers and find out what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they have earned.
Flexible Class Scheduling. Many people learn a new profession while still working at their present job. Make sure that the class schedules for the schools you are considering are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Anchorage AK, make certain that the schools you are reviewing offer those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, verify that the school you decide on offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the protocol is to make up classes if you you miss any because of illness, work or family circumstances.
Will You Be Attending Welding School Near Anchorage AK?
Perhaps you live in the Anchorage 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.
Anchorage (officially called the Municipality of Anchorage; Dena'ina: Dgheyaytnu) is a unified home rule municipality in the U.S. state of Alaska, located in the West Coast of the United States. With an estimated 291,538 residents in 2018, it is Alaska's most populous city and contains more than 40 percent of the state's total population; among the 50 states, only New York has a higher percentage of residents who live in its most populous city. All together, the Anchorage metropolitan area, which combines Anchorage with the neighboring Matanuska-Susitna Borough, had a population of 399,148 in 2018, which accounts for more than half of the state's population. At 1,706 square miles (4,420 km2) of land area, the city is the fourth largest city by land in the United States and larger than the smallest state, Rhode Island, which is 1,212 square miles (3,140 km2) in area.
Anchorage is in the south-central portion of Alaska, at the terminus of the Cook Inlet, on a peninsula formed by the Knik Arm to the north and the Turnagain Arm to the south. The city limits span 1,961.1 square miles (5,079.2 km2) which encompass the urban core, a joint military base, several outlying communities and almost all of Chugach State Park.
Due to its location, almost equidistant from New York City, Frankfurt, and Tokyo, Anchorage lies within 9 1⁄2 hours by air of nearly 90% of the industrialized world. For this reason, the Anchorage International Airport is a common refueling stop for many international cargo flights and home to a major FedEx hub, which the company calls a "critical part" of its global network of services.
Online Welder Degree and Certificate Programs
Welding is very much a hands-on kind of vocation, and therefore not very suitable for online training. Even so, there are a few online welding classes offered by various community colleges and vocational schools in the greater Anchorage AK area that may be credited toward a certificate or degree program. These classes mainly cover such topics as safety, reading blueprints, and metallurgy. They can help provide a beginner a basis to start their training and education. However, the most critical point is that you can’t learn how to weld or work with welding materials until you actually do it. Naturally that can’t be accomplished online. These skills must be learned in an on-campus setting or in an apprenticeship. Online or distance learning is better suited for experienced welders that would like to advance their knowledge or possibly attain a more advanced degree. So if you should find an online welding certificate or degree program, be extremely careful and confirm that the larger part of the training is done on campus or in a workshop type of setting.
Pick the Best Welding Tech School Anchorage AK
Picking the right welder training program will undoubtedly be the most important decision you will make to start your new trade. As we have discussed in this article, there are a number of things that you will need to assess and compare between the schools you are looking at. It’s a prerequisite that any welder school that you are evaluating includes a good deal of hands-on training. Classes need to be smaller in size and each student must have their personal welding machine to train on. Classroom education needs to offer a real-world perspective, and the training program should be current and conform with industry standards. Training programs vary in length and the type of credential provided, so you will have to determine what length of program and degree or certificate will best fulfill your needs. Each training program provides different possibilities for certification as well. Probably The ideal means to research your short list of schools is to check out each campus and talk with the teachers and students. Invest some time to monitor a few classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the program you pick is the best one for you. With the right training, hard work and commitment, the end outcome will be a new occupation as a professional welder in Anchorage AK.
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