How to Select the Right Welder Training Class near Soldotna Alaska
Enrolling in the ideal welding vocational school near Soldotna AK is an important first step to starting your new career 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 fine tuned your alternatives, how do you pick the best one? Many prospective students start by looking at the schools that are closest to their residences. Once they have found those that are within driving distance, they are drawn toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are necessary considerations when examining welder technical schools, but they are not the only ones. Other factors 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 sensible to develop a list of qualifications that your chosen school must have. But before we examine our due diligence checklist, let’s cover a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welding Certificate and Degree Training Programs
There are several options available to get training as a welder in a trade or vocational school. You can obtain a a certificate, a diploma 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. Following are brief descriptions of the most common welding programs offered in the Soldotna AK.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are normally made available by technical and trade schools and require about a year to complete. They are more hands-on training in nature, designed mainly to develop welding skills. They can furnish 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 furnishes a more well-rounded education than the diploma or certificate while still providing the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
Many municipalities and states do have licensing prerequisites for welders, therefore make sure to find out for your location of potential employment. As required, the welding school you select should ready you for any licensing examinations that you will need to take in addition to providing the appropriate training to become a qualified welder.
Welder Certification Alternatives
There are a number of institutions that provide welder certifications, which test the knowledge and skill level of those applying. Numerous Soldotna AK employers not only expect a certificate or degree from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a highly regarded organization such as the American Welding Society (AWS). A wide range of certifications are offered based upon the kind of work that the welder does. Just some of the skills that certification can acknowledge are the welder’s ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with certain metal thicknesses
- Work with specific kinds of welds
- Work in compliance with contract specifications
As already mentioned, many states, cities or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those requiring licensing, some additionally require certification for different types of work. Certification is also a way to prove to employers that you are an extremely skilled and experienced welder. So similarly as with licensing, look into the requirements for your local area and make certain that the welder trade school you select preps you for certification if needed.
Questions to Ask Welding Tech Schools
Once you have chosen the credential you would like to obtain, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can begin to evaluate schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are many welder trade and vocational schools in the Soldotna AK area. That’s why it’s important to establish in advance what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have previously covered 2 significant ones that most people consider first, which are location and tuition cost. As stated, although they are essential qualifiers, they are not the only ones that must be looked at. After all, the program you select is going to furnish the education that will be the foundation of your new vocation as a welder. So following are more factors you may need to consider before picking a welder tech school.
Accreditation. It’s extremely important that the welding technical school you decide on is accredited by either a national or a regional agency. There are 2 basic kinds of accreditation. The school may earn Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on an individual program the school offers, for example 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 acknowledged accrediting organization, like the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping ensure that you get a quality education, the accreditation might also help in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are often not offered in Soldotna AK for schools that are not accredited. Also, for those states or municipalities that require licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited also.
Job Placement and Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of welder diploma or degree programs are provided combined with an apprenticeship program. Some other schools will assist in placing you in an apprenticeship or a job upon graduation. Ask if the schools you are reviewing help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. The schools should have relationships with local unions and other 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 assist students in finding employment and develop relationships within the Soldotna 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 crucial that the welder program you choose has a high completion rate. A low rate could indicate that the students who joined the program were unhappy 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 confirm that the school has a good reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of Soldotna AK contacts to help students obtain apprenticeships or employment after graduation.
Up-to-date Equipment and Facilities. After you have limited your selection of welder programs to 2 or 3 options, you should consider going to the campuses to inspect their facilities. Verify that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be instructed on are up-to-date. In particular, the training equipment should be comparable to what you will be using in the field. 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. If not, ask a local Soldotna AK welding professional if they can give you some tips.
School Location. Although we already briefly talked about the significance of location, there are a few additional issues that we need to cover. You should bear in mind that unless you can move, the welder program you select must be within commuting distance of your Soldotna AK home. If you do decide to attend an out-of-state school, apart from moving expenses there could be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly true for welding degree programs offered by community colleges. Furthermore, if the school offers an apprenticeship or job placement program, more than likely their placements are within the school’s local community. So the location of the school needs to be in an area or state where you ultimately will wish to work.
Smaller Classes. Personalized instruction is essential for a manual trade such as welding. It’s possible to get lost in bigger classes and not obtain much individualized instruction. Find out what the usual class size is for the welding schools you are reviewing. Inquire if you can attend some classes so that you can observe just how much individual 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 credentials and certifications they have earned.
Convenient Class Schedules. Some people learn a new profession while still working at their current job. Check to see that the class schedules for the schools you are considering are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Soldotna AK, make sure that the schools you are considering offer those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you pick offers part-time enrollment. Also, check to see what the protocol is to make up classes if you you miss any because of work, sickness or family circumstances.
Online Welder Classes
Welding is very much a hands-on kind of trade, and consequently not extremely compatible with training online. However, there are some online welding courses offered by specific community colleges and vocational schools in the greater Soldotna AK area that can be credited toward a certificate or degree program. These classes primarily cover such topics as safety, reading blueprints, and metallurgy. They can help provide a novice a basis to initiate their training and education. However, 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 performed 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 want to advance their knowledge or perhaps earn a more advanced degree. So if you should find an online welding certificate or degree program, be very careful and make sure that the bulk of the training is done on campus or in a workshop type of environment.
Attending a Welding School in Soldotna AK?
If you have decided to enroll in a welder training program in the Soldotna Alaska area, you may find the following information both informative and helpful about the location of your new school campus.
Soldotna is a home rule city in the Kenai Peninsula Borough, in the U.S. state of Alaska. At the 2010 census the population was 4,163, up from 3,759 in 2000. It is the seat of the Kenai Peninsula Borough.
Soldotna is located in the Southcentral portion of Alaska on the central-western portion of the Kenai Peninsula. The city limits span 7 square miles along the Kenai River, which empties into the Cook Inlet in the nearby city of Kenai. The Kenai River was selected by CNN Travel as one of the "World's 15 Best Rivers for Travelers," due to its fishing and hunting opportunities. Soldotna is located on the western edge of the vast Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, a protected area spanning nearly 2 million acres and home to bears, moose, caribou, sheep, and many fish and bird species.
The city is located at the junction of the Sterling Highway and the Kenai Spur Highway, which has enabled Soldotna to develop as a service and retail hub for the Central Peninsula as well as for travelers between Anchorage and Homer. The Central Peninsula Hospital serves the medical needs of the region's residents and tourists. The Kenai Peninsula College, a branch of the University of Alaska Anchorage, operates the Kenai River Campus in Soldotna. Additionally, the headquarters of the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, the Kenai Peninsula Borough, and the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District are located in the city.
Find the Right Welding Technical Program Soldotna AK
Choosing the best welder school will undoubtedly be the most critical decision you will make to begin your new trade. You originally stopped by our website because you had an interest in Welding Training Courses. However, as we have covered in this article, there are a number of things that you will need to assess and compare among the schools you are reviewing. It’s a necessity that any welding training that you are considering includes a considerable amount of hands-on instruction. Classes should be small in size and every student should have their own welding machine to train with. Classroom instruction needs to provide a real-world frame of reference, and the course of study should be current and in-line with industry standards. Training programs vary in duration and the kind of credential offered, so you will need to decide what length of program and credential will best fulfill your needs. Each training program offers different options for certification as well. Perhaps the best means to research your short list of schools is to visit each campus and talk with the students and faculty. Invest some time to sit in on a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the school you decide on is the right one for you. With the right training, hard work and dedication, the final result will be a new trade as a professional welder in Soldotna AK.