How to Choose the Right Welding Technical School near Anchorage Alaska
Locating the right welding technical school near Anchorage AK is an important first step to launching your new career as a professional welder. But since there are so many schools to select from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more significantly, once you have narrowed down your options, how do you pick the right one? A number of prospective students start by reviewing the schools that are nearest to their homes. When they have located those that are within driving distance, they are drawn toward the least costly one. Yes, location and tuition cost are necessary considerations when examining welding technical schools, but they are not the only ones. Other considerations 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 sensible to develop a list of qualifications that your selected 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 Programs
There are several alternatives available to receive training as a welder in a technical or trade school. You can earn a diploma, a certificate or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are available in Welding Engineering or Welding Technology, but are more advanced programs than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also offered combined with an apprenticeship program. Below are short descriptions of the most typical welding programs available in the Anchorage AK.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are usually made available by technical and trade schools and require about a year to complete. They are more hands-on training in scope, designed 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 two years to finish and are usually offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology furnishes a more extensive education than the certificate or diploma while still furnishing 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 required, the welding school you select should prepare you for any licensing exams that you will have to take in addition to furnishing the suitable training to become a qualified welder.
Welder Certification Choices
There are a number of institutions that offer welding certifications, which test the skill level and knowledge of those applying. A large number of Anchorage AK employers not only demand a certificate or degree from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a renowned organization such as the American Welding Society (AWS). A wide range of certifications are available based upon the type 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 various types of welds
- Perform according to contract specifications
As formerly mentioned, many states, cities or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those calling for licensing, a number also require certification for different types of work. Certification is also a means to prove to employers that you are a highly skilled and knowledgeable welder. So similarly as with licensing, check the requirements for your local area and verify that the welder vocational school you select preps you for certification as needed.
Points to Ask Welder Tech Schools
As soon as you have chosen the credential you would like to obtain, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can start to evaluate schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are many welding trade and vocational schools in the Anchorage AK area. That’s why it’s necessary to determine up front what qualifications your chosen school must have. We have already covered 2 important ones that many people look at first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As mentioned, although they are very important qualifiers, they are not the only ones that need to be looked at. After all, the program you decide on is going to provide the training that will be the foundation of your new vocation as a welder. So following are more factors you may want to consider before selecting a welder trade school.
Accreditation. It’s extremely important that the welder tech school you select is accredited by either a national or a regional organization. There are 2 basic types of accreditation. The school may receive 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 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, like the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping ensure that you receive a quality education, the accreditation might also help in getting financial aid or student loans, which are often unavailable in Anchorage AK for schools that are not accredited. Also, 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. A large number of welder certificate or degree programs are provided in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Other schools will assist in placing you in an apprenticeship or a job upon graduation. Ask if the schools you are reviewing assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. The schools must have associations with local unions and various 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 referrals. These programs can help students find employment and develop associations within the Anchorage AK welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that start an academic program and complete it. It’s crucial that the welder school you pick has a high completion rate. A reduced rate could indicate that the students who joined the program were dissatisfied with the instruction, the instructors, or the facilities, and dropped out. The job placement rate is also a good indicator of the quality of training. A higher job placement rate will not only affirm that the school has a good reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of Anchorage AK employer relationships to help students obtain employment or apprenticeships after graduation.
Modern Facilities and Equipment. Once you have narrowed down your selection of welding schools to 2 or 3 options, you should think out visiting the campuses to look over their facilities. Verify that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be taught on are up-to-date. In particular, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be using on the job. If you are uncertain what to look for, and are already in an apprenticeship program, consult with the master welder you are working under for guidance. Otherwise, ask a local Anchorage AK welding professional if they can give you some suggestions.
School Location. Although we previously briefly covered the importance of location, there are a couple of additional issues that we need to cover. You should bear in mind that unless you have the ability to relocate, the welding program you choose needs to be within commuting distance of your Anchorage AK home. If you do opt to enroll in an out-of-state school, apart from relocation costs there may be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially true for welding diploma programs offered by community colleges. Additionally, if the school offers a job placement or apprenticeship 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 ultimately will wish to work.
Small Classes. Personalized instruction is important for a hands-on trade such as welding. It’s possible to be overlooked in larger classes and not get much one-on-one instruction. Find out what the usual class size is for the welder schools you are considering. Inquire if you can sit in on a few classes so that you can see just how much personal attention the students are getting. While there, speak with a few of the students and get their opinions. Also, chat with some of the teachers and ask what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they have earned.
Convenient Class Scheduling. Lots of folks learn a new profession while still employed at their current job. Check to see that the class schedules for the schools you are looking at are convenient enough to satisfy your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Anchorage AK, make certain that the schools you are reviewing provide those choices. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the school you decide on offers part-time enrollment. Also, check to see what the protocol is to make up classes if you you miss any due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
Online Welder Degree and Certificate Programs
Welding is very much a hands-on kind of profession, and consequently not very compatible with training online. Even so, there are a small number of online welding courses offered by certain community colleges and technical schools in the greater Anchorage AK area that may count toward a degree or certificate program. These courses primarily cover such subjects as reading blueprints, safety,, and metallurgy. They can help provide a beginner a foundation to begin their training and education. Nevertheless, the most critical point is that you can’t learn how to weld or use welding materials unless you actually do it. Naturally that can’t be accomplished online. These skills must be learned in an on-campus environment or in an apprenticeship. Online or distance learning is better suited 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 degree or certificate program, be very careful and confirm that the greater part of the training is done on campus or in a workshop type of environment.
Attending a Welding School in Anchorage AK?
If you have decided to enroll in a welder training program in the Anchorage Alaska area, you may find the following information both informative and helpful about the location of your new school campus.
Anchorage (officially called the Municipality of Anchorage; Dena'ina: Dgheyaytnu) is a unified home rule municipality in the U.S. state of Alaska, located on 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 area 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, Ted Stevens 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.
Pick the Right Welding Trade Program Anchorage AK
Selecting the best welding training program will undoubtedly be the most critical decision you will make to launch your new profession. You originally stopped by our website because you had an interest in I Want To Learn To Weld. However, as we have addressed in this article, there are a number of factors that you will need to assess and compare among the programs you are considering. It’s a necessity that any welding training program that you are evaluating includes a lot of hands-on instruction. Classes should be smaller in size and each student must have their own welding machine to train with. Classroom teaching needs to offer a real-world context, and the training program should be current and in-line with industry standards. Programs differ in duration and the kind of credential provided, so you will have to decide what length of program and credential will best satisfy your needs. Every training program offers different options for certification also. Probably the best approach to research your short list of schools is to check out each campus and talk with the faculty and students. Take the time to monitor some classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the training program you pick is the best one for you. With the right training, hard work and dedication, the final result will be a new occupation as a professional welder in Anchorage AK.
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Welding Education Requirements and Career Information
Welding education programs may culminate in a Welding Certificate of Achievement, Associate of Science in Welding or Bachelor of Science in Welding Engineering. Formal education programs may take anywhere from a few weeks to a few years to complete. Students in a welding program learn the art of heating and shaping metals.
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