How to Select a Welder Degree Program near Eielson Afb Alaska
Finding the ideal welding trade school near Eielson Afb AK is an essential first step to beginning your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are numerous schools to choose from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more importantly, once you have narrowed down your options, how do you select the right one? Many people begin by checking out the schools that are closest to their homes. When they have found those that are within driving distance, they gravitate toward the least expensive one. Yes, location and tuition cost are important considerations when reviewing welding vocational schools, but they are not the only ones. Other factors include such things as reputation, accreditation and job placement rates. So before starting your search for a trade school to become a welder, it’s sensible to establish a list of qualifications that your chosen school must have. But before we delve into our due diligence checklist, let’s cover a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welder Degree and Certificate Training Programs
There are several options to receive 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 offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Following are short descriptions of the most typical welding programs available in the Eielson Afb AK.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are normally made available by trade and technical schools and take about a year to complete. They are more hands-on training in nature, fashioned primarily to teach welding skills. They can provide 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 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, so make sure to check for your location of potential employment. As needed, the welder school you select should prepare you for any licensing exams that you will have to pass in addition to furnishing the suitable training to become a professional welder.
Welding Certification Options
There are various institutions that provide welder certifications, which evaluate the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Many Eielson Afb AK employers not only expect a degree or certificate from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a renowned agency such as the American Welding Society (AWS). A variety of certifications are available based upon the type of work that the welder does. Some of the skills that certification can acknowledge are the welder’s ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specified metal thicknesses
- Work with various kinds of welds
- Operate based on contract specifications
As formerly mentioned, many states, cities or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those calling for licensing, a number additionally require certification for different types of work. Certification is also a way to prove to employers that you are an extremely skilled and qualified welder. So similarly as with licensing, look into the requirements for your location and verify that the welding technical school you select prepares you for certification if needed.
How to Decide on a Welder Tech School
Once you have decided on the credential you want to earn, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can start to assess schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are numerous welding trade and vocational schools in the Eielson Afb AK area. That’s why it’s essential to establish in advance what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have previously covered 2 significant ones that many people look at first, which are location and tuition cost. As mentioned, although they are very important qualifiers, they are not the only ones that should be looked at. After all, the program you pick is going to provide the instruction that will be the foundation of your new career as a welder. So following are more factors you might need to consider before selecting a welder trade school.
Accreditation. It’s extremely important that the welding vocational school you decide on is accredited by either a national or a regional organization. There are two 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 has, for instance Welding Technology. So confirm that the program you select is accredited, not just the school alone. Additionally, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, for example the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). In addition to helping ensure that you receive an excellent education, the accreditation might also help in getting financial aid or student loans, which are often unavailable in Eielson Afb AK for schools that are not accredited. Finally, for those states or municipalities that require licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited as well.
Job Placement and Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous welding degree or diploma programs are offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Some other schools will assist in placing you in a job or an apprenticeship 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 other metal working businesses to which they can refer their students. Older schools may have a larger network of graduates that they can utilize for placements. These programs can assist students in finding employment and develop relationships within the Eielson Afb AK welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that start an academic program and finish it. It’s important that the welding program you select has a high completion rate. A reduced rate could mean that the students who were in the program were unhappy with the instruction, the instructors, or the facilities, and dropped out. The job placement rate is also a good indicator of the caliber of training. A higher job placement rate will not only verify that the program has a good reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of Eielson Afb AK employer relationships to help students secure employment or apprenticeships upon graduation.
Modern Equipment and Facilities. After you have limited your selection of welder schools to 2 or 3 possibilities, you should consider going to the campuses to evaluate their facilities. Confirm that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be taught on are modern. Specifically, the training equipment should be comparable to what you will be working with on the job. If you are unsure what to look for, and are already in an apprenticeship program, ask the master welder you are working under for guidance. Otherwise, ask a local Eielson Afb AK welding professional if they can give you a few tips.
School Location. Although we already briefly discussed the importance of location, there are a couple of additional points that we should cover. You should keep in mind that unless you are able to relocate, the welder school you pick must be within commuting distance of your Eielson Afb AK home. If you do decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there could be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly true for welding degree programs offered by community colleges. Also, if the school provides a job placement or apprenticeship program, more than likely their placements are within the school’s regional community. So the location of the school needs to be in a region or state where you ultimately will desire to work.
Small Classes. Individualized instruction is important for a manual trade such as welding. It’s possible to be lost in bigger classes and not receive much individualized training. Ask what the usual class size is for the welding programs you are looking at. Ask if you can attend a few classes so that you can experience just how much personal attention the students are receiving. While there, speak with a few of the students and get their feedback. Similarly, chat with some of the teachers and find out what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they have earned.
Flexible Class Schedules. Some people learn a new profession while still employed at their present job. Make sure that the class schedules for the schools you are looking at are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Eielson Afb AK, confirm that the schools you are assessing offer those alternatives. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the protocol is to make up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family circumstances.
Will You Be Attending Welding School Near Eielson Afb AK?
Perhaps you live in the Eielson Afb 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.
Eielson Air Force Base
Eielson Air Force Base (AFB) (IATA: EIL, ICAO: PAEI, FAA LID: EIL) is a United States Air Force base located approximately 26 miles (42 km) southeast of Fairbanks, Alaska and just southeast of Moose Creek, Alaska. It was established in 1943 as Mile 26 Satellite Field and taken off deployment in 2007. It has been a Superfund site since 1989.
Its host unit is the 354th Fighter Wing (354 FW) assigned to the Eleventh Air Force of the Pacific Air Forces. The 354 FW's primary mission is to support Red Flag – Alaska, a series of Pacific Air Forces commander–directed field training exercises for U.S. Forces, joint offensive counter-air, interdiction, close-air support, and large force employment training in a simulated combat environment. These exercises are conducted on the Joint Pacific Alaskan Range complex with air operations flown out of the two bases.
Eielson is home to the 354th Fighter Wing which is part of the Eleventh Air Force (11 AF) of Pacific Air Forces. The 354th Fighter Wing mission is "To train, deliver, maintain and support combat power across the globe while taking care of our people, their families and our infrastructure." To accomplish that mission, the wing implements flying operations, mission support, maintenance and medical care functions and is host to 10 tenant units.
Online Welder Training
Welding is very much a hands-on type of trade, and consequently not extremely suitable for online training. Having said that, there are a small number of online welding programs offered by specific community colleges and technical schools in the greater Eielson Afb AK area that can be credited toward a degree or certificate program. These courses primarily cover such subjects as safety, reading blueprints, and metallurgy. They can help provide a novice a basis to begin their training and education. However, the most important point is that you can’t learn how to weld or use welding materials unless you actually do it. Obviously that can’t be performed 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 desire to advance their expertise or perhaps obtain a more advanced degree. So if you should come across an online welding certificate or degree program, be extremely careful and verify that the bulk of the training is done on campus or in a workshop type of setting.
Select the Best Welding Tech Program Eielson Afb AK
Selecting the ideal welder school will undoubtedly be the most important 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 examine and compare among the schools you are looking at. It’s a prerequisite that any welder school that you are assessing includes a lot of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be small in size and each student should have their personal welding machine to train with. Classroom instruction should provide a real-world perspective, and the training program should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Training programs vary in duration and the type of credential provided, so you will have to decide what length of program and credential will best fulfill your needs. Each program provides unique options for certification also. Probably the best way to research your short list of schools is to check out each campus and speak with the faculty and students. Invest some time to sit in on some classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the program you pick is the best one for you. With the right training, effort and commitment, the final outcome will be a new career as a professional welder in Eielson Afb AK.