How to Select the Right Welding Certificate Program near Girdwood Alaska
Enrolling in the right welding trade school near Girdwood AK is an important first step to starting your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are numerous schools to pick from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more significantly, once you have narrowed down your alternatives, how do you select the right one? Most people start by reviewing the schools that are closest to their homes. Once they have found those that are within driving distance, they gravitate toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and tuition cost are necessary issues when evaluating welder trade schools, but they are not the only ones. Other concerns include such things as accreditation, reputation and job placement rates. So before starting your search for a vocational school to become a welder, it’s wise to create 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.
Welder Certificate and Degree Training Programs
There are a number of options available to receive training as a welder in a technical or trade school. You can obtain a a certificate, a diploma or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are available in Welding Technology or Welding Engineering, but are more advanced degrees than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also offered combined with an apprenticeship program. Following are brief descriptions of the most typical welding programs available in the Girdwood AK.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are usually made available by trade and technical schools and take about one year to finish. They are more hands-on training in scope, fashioned primarily to teach 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 2 years to complete and are most often offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology offers a more extensive education than the diploma or certificate while still supplying the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
Some states and municipalities do have licensing requirements for welders, therefore make sure to check for your location of future employment. If needed, the welder school you pick should prep you for any licensing exams that you will have to pass in addition to furnishing the proper training to become a professional welder.
Welding Certification Choices
There are multiple institutions that provide welding certifications, which assess the knowledge and skill level of those applying. Many Girdwood AK employers not only require a degree or certificate from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a respected agency such as the American Welding Society (AWS). A variety of certifications are offered based on the kind of work that the welder does. A few of the skills that certification can acknowledge are the welder’s ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specific metal thicknesses
- Work with certain types of welds
- Operate based on contract specifications
As formerly mentioned, many states, cities or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those mandating licensing, many also require certification for different kinds of work. Certification is also a way to demonstrate to employers that you are an exceptionally skilled and knowledgeable welder. So just as with licensing, look into the requirements for your local area and confirm that the welder trade school you choose preps you for certification as needed.
Questions to Ask Welding Trade Schools
After you have decided on the credential you want to attain, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can begin to compare schools. As you probably know, there are a large number of welding trade and technical schools in the Girdwood AK area. That’s why it’s essential to decide in advance what qualifications your selected school must have. We have previously covered two significant ones that most people look at first, which are location and tuition cost. As mentioned, although they are essential qualifications, they are not the only ones that need to be considered. After all, the school you decide on is going to provide the training that will be the foundation of your new career as a welder. So below are more factors you may want to evaluate before selecting a welding tech school.
Accreditation. It’s extremely important that the welder tech school you decide on is accredited by either a regional or a national organization. There are 2 standard kinds 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 certain that the program you pick is accredited, not just the school alone. Also, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, for example the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping make sure that you receive a superior education, the accreditation might also help in securing financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not offered in Girdwood AK for non-accredited schools. Also, for those states or municipalities that mandate licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited also.
Job Placement and Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of welder certificate or degree programs are offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Some other schools will help place you in a job or an apprenticeship upon graduation. Ask if the schools you are looking at help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. The schools should have associations with local unions and various metal working businesses to which they can refer their students. More established schools may have a more substantial network of graduates that they can rely upon for placements. These programs can assist students in finding employment and develop relationships within the Girdwood AK welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that begin an educational program and finish it. It’s crucial that the welder program you choose has a higher completion rate. A lower rate might indicate that the students who were 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 verify that the school has an excellent reputation within the trade, but additionally that it has the network of Girdwood AK employer relationships to help students obtain employment or apprenticeships after graduation.
Modern Facilities and Equipment. Once you have narrowed down your choice of welder schools to 2 or 3 options, you should consider visiting the campuses to look over their facilities. Verify that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be instructed on are up-to-date. Specifically, the training equipment should be comparable to what you will be working with on the job. If you are not sure 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 Girdwood AK welding professional if they can give you a few suggestions.
School Location. Although we already briefly discussed the relevance of location, there are a couple of additional points that we need to cover. You should bear in mind that unless you have the ability to move, the welding school you select needs to be within driving distance of your Girdwood AK home. If you do choose to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides moving costs there may be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly the case for welder 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 local community. So the location of the school should be in an area or state where you ultimately will wish to work.
Smaller Classes. One-on-one instruction is essential for a manual trade such as welding. It’s possible to be overlooked in larger classes and not receive much personalized instruction. Ask what the usual class size is for the welder programs you are reviewing. Inquire if you can sit in on some classes so that you can witness just how much personal attention the students are getting. While there, talk with some of the students and get their feedback. Similarly, talk with some of the teachers and find out 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 convenient enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Girdwood AK, verify that the schools you are considering provide those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, confirm that the school you choose offers part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the policy is to make up classes if you you miss any due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
Online Welding Schools
Welding is very much a manual kind of vocation, and for that reason not extremely suitable for training online. However, there are some online welding programs offered by various community colleges and trade schools in the greater Girdwood AK area that can be credited toward a degree or certificate program. These courses primarily deal with such subjects as safety, reading blueprints, and metallurgy. They can help provide a novice a basis to start their education and training. Nevertheless, the most important 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 need to be learned in an on-campus environment or in an apprenticeship. Online or distance learning is better suited for seasoned welders that would like to advance their knowledge or possibly obtain a more advanced degree. So if you should find an online welding certificate or degree program, be very cautious and make sure that the bulk of the training is done on campus or in a workshop type of setting.
Attending a Welding School in Girdwood AK?
If you have decided to enroll in a welder training program in the Girdwood Alaska area, you may find the following information both informative and helpful about the location of your new school campus.
Girdwood is a resort town within the southern extent of the Municipality of Anchorage in the state of Alaska. Located near the end of the Turnagain Arm of Cook Inlet, Girdwood lies in a valley in the southwestern Chugach Mountains, surrounded by seven glaciers feeding into a number of creeks, which either converge within the valley or empty directly into the arm. Girdwood is typically accessed by the Seward Highway (Milepost 90), with the main line of the Alaska Railroad paralleling the highway. By road distance, most of the community lies within 35 to 40 miles (56 to 64 km) of downtown Anchorage. According to 2014 estimates, a little under 2,000 people live in the valley.
Founded as a community to supply miners during the Turnagain Arm gold rushes of the 1890s, Girdwood was mostly a small, quiet place until the middle of the 20th century. Two events drastically altered that. The first was the establishment of Alyeska Resort along the slopes of Mount Alyeska, which became an international destination coincidental with Anchorage's civic promotion of itself as "The Air Crossroads of the World". The second was the 1964 earthquake, which devastated the original townsite located directly along the arm. Following the earthquake, most of the town moved further up the valley to a new townsite, though a few homes remained and a strip mall was later constructed along the Seward Highway. Historically dominated in the years since the resort's opening by seasonally-occupied vacation homes and seasonal activity at the resort, the opening of the Alyeska Prince Hotel during the 1990s has shifted the resort, and hence Girdwood as a whole, more towards year-round activity and a year-round economy. This has led to periodic debates about community growth and affordability of housing for resort workers, many of whom over the years have resorted to camping illegally on public lands.
Girdwood still revolves heavily around seasonal activity, with skiing and snowboarding at Alyeska Resort bringing visitors and their money into the community. Summer activities are also popular, which include hiking, fishing and rafting. The Girdwood Forest Fair, held every July, is the community's most significant visitor attraction apart from resort-related activities. Girdwood is located within the northernmost extent of rain forest on Earth, and also serves as the closest point of access to Chugach National Forest from Anchorage proper.
Pick the Right Welding Trade Program Girdwood AK
Selecting the right welder school will undoubtedly be the most important decision you will make to start your new trade. You originally stopped by our website because you had an interest in Welding School. However, as we have discussed in this article, there are several things that you will need to evaluate and compare among the schools you are reviewing. It’s a prerequisite that any welding training that you are reviewing includes a good deal of hands-on instruction. Classes should be smaller in size and every student must have their own welding machine to train on. Classroom instruction needs to offer a real-world frame of reference, and the curriculum should be current and conform with industry standards. Programs differ in length and the type of credential provided, so you will need to ascertain what length of program and credential will best satisfy your needs. Each program offers unique options 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 students and instructors. Invest some time to sit in on a few classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the school you pick is the ideal one for you. With the right training, hard work and commitment, the final result will be a new occupation as a professional welder in Girdwood AK.