How to Choose a Welding Training Program near North Pole Alaska
Locating the right welding trade school near North Pole AK is an important first step to launching your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are numerous schools to choose from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more importantly, once you have narrowed down your choices, how do you pick the right one? A number of people start by reviewing the schools that are nearest to their residences. When they have found those that are within commuting distance, they gravitate toward the least costly one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are necessary concerns when reviewing welding trade schools, but they are not the only ones. Other factors include such things as accreditation, reputation and job placement rates. So before starting your search for a trade school to become a welder, it’s prudent to develop a list of qualifications that your chosen school must have. But before we examine our due diligence checklist, let’s talk a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welding Degree and Certificate Programs
There are multiple alternatives available to receive training as a welder in a trade or technical 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 offered combined with an apprenticeship program. Following are brief descriptions of the most prevalent welding programs offered in the North Pole AK.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are normally made available by trade and technical schools and require about one year to complete. They are more hands-on training in scope, designed mainly to teach welding skills. They can furnish a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or supplemental 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 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, therefore be sure to check for your location of potential employment. If needed, the welding school you choose should ready you for any licensing exams that you will have to take in addition to furnishing the suitable training to become a professional welder.
Welder Certification Options
There are various organizations that provide welder certifications, which assess the skill level and knowledge of those applying. A large number of North Pole AK employers not only demand a degree or certificate from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a renowned organization like the American Welding Society (AWS). A variety of certifications are offered based upon the type of work that the welder performs. Just some of the things that certification can attest to are the welder’s ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specified metal thicknesses
- Work with specific types of welds
- Perform according to contract specifications
As earlier stated, some cities, states or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those requiring licensing, a number additionally require certification for various types of work. Certification is also a way to prove to employers that you are a highly skilled and experienced welder. So just as with licensing, check the requirements for your local area and make sure that the welding technical school you decide on prepares you for certification if needed.
How to Select a Welding Tech School
As soon as you have chosen the credential you want to attain, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can start to evaluate schools. As you probably know, there are a large number of welder trade and vocational schools in the North Pole AK area. That’s why it’s important to establish up front what qualifications your selected school must have. We have previously covered two significant ones that many people consider first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As stated, although they are very important qualifiers, they are not the only ones that need to be considered. After all, the school you pick is going to furnish the instruction that will be the foundation of your new career as a welder. So following are some additional factors you may need to consider before selecting a welding technical school.
Accreditation. It’s extremely important that the welding trade school you pick is accredited by either a regional or a national agency. There are two basic 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 has, for example Welding Technology. So verify that the program you choose 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). Besides helping ensure that you receive an excellent education, the accreditation may also help in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are often not available in North Pole 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 as well.
Apprenticeship and Job Placement Programs. A large number of welding diploma or degree programs are provided combined with an apprenticeship program. Other schools will help place you in an apprenticeship or a job upon graduation. Ask if the schools you are looking at help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. These schools should have associations with local unions and other metal working businesses to which they can place their students. Older schools may have a more substantial network of graduates that they can utilize for placements. These programs can help students find employment and establish associations within the North Pole AK welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that enroll in an educational program and complete it. It’s essential that the welding program you choose has a higher completion rate. A reduced rate might signify that the students who were in the program were dissatisfied with the instruction, the teachers, 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 verify that the program has a good reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of North Pole AK contacts to assist students obtain employment or apprenticeships upon graduation.
Up-to-date Facilities and Equipment. After you have decreased your selection of welder schools to 2 or 3 options, you should think out visiting the campuses to look over their facilities. Make sure that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are modern. In particular, the training equipment should be comparable to what you will be using in the field. If you are uncertain what to look for, and are currently in an apprenticeship program, consult with the master welder you are working under for guidance. If not, ask a local North Pole AK welding professional if they can give you some suggestions.
School Location. Although we already briefly discussed the importance of location, there are a couple of additional issues that we need to cover. You should remember that unless you have the ability to move, the welder school you choose must be within commuting distance of your North Pole AK home. If you do decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to moving expenses there could be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially the case for welding certificate programs offered by community colleges. Furthermore, if the school provides a job placement or apprenticeship program, most 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.
Smaller Classes. Personalized training is essential for a hands-on trade such as welding. It’s easy to be overlooked in bigger classes and not get much personalized training. Find out what the usual class size is for the welder schools you are looking at. Inquire if you can sit in on some classes so that you can see just how much personal attention the students are receiving. While there, talk with several of the students and get their opinions. Also, talk with a few of the instructors and ask what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they have earned.
Flexible Class Scheduling. Some people learn a new profession while still working at their present 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 North Pole AK, confirm that the schools you are reviewing offer those options. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, verify 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 because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Will You Be Attending Welding School Near North Pole AK?
Perhaps you live in the North Pole 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.
North Pole, Alaska
North Pole is a small city in the Fairbanks North Star Borough, Alaska, United States. It is part of the Fairbanks, Alaska metropolitan statistical area. As of the 2016 United States Census, the city had a population of 2,232, up from 1,570 in 2000.
The name "North Pole" is often applied to the entire area covered by its zip code, 99705. This area stretches between Fort Wainwright and Eielson Air Force Base, and between the Chena River and the Tanana River, including subdivisions off of Badger Road, a loop road connecting the eastern edge of Fairbanks city limits with North Pole city limits, and in the nearby census-designated place of Moose Creek. Despite the name, the city is about 1,700 miles (2,700 km) south of Earth's geographic North Pole and 125 miles (200 km) south of the Arctic Circle.
The city is a summertime attraction for tourists visiting nearby Fairbanks and, due to its location on the Richardson Highway, those traveling to and from the Alaska Highway and Valdez. North Pole was home to two oil refineries, the town's major industry aside from tourism, but closed because of sulofane contamination in ground water. The larger refinery, operated by Flint Hills Resources, was a major source of jet fuel for Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport. Tanker car traffic on the Alaska Railroad, entering and leaving the refinery, frequently bisects the city.
Online Welder Classes
Welding is very much a hands-on kind of vocation, and consequently not very compatible with online training. Having said that, there are a small number of online welding courses offered by various community colleges and technical schools in the greater North Pole AK area that can count toward a certificate or degree program. These courses primarily cover such topics as safety, reading blueprints, and metallurgy. They can help provide a novice a basis to start their training and education. Nevertheless, the most important point is that you can’t learn how to weld or use 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 more appropriate for seasoned welders that desire to advance their expertise or perhaps attain a more advanced degree. So if you should discover an online welding certificate or degree program, be very careful and make sure that the larger part of the training is done on campus or in a workshop type of setting.
Select the Right Welding Vocational School North Pole AK
Picking the best welder school will probably be the most critical decision you will make to start your new trade. As we have covered in this article, there are many things that you will need to examine and compare between the schools you are considering. It’s a necessity that any welder training that you are examining includes a good deal of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be smaller in size and every student must have their own welding machine to train on. Classroom education needs to provide a real-world perspective, and the curriculum should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Programs differ in length and the kind of credential offered, so you will have to determine what length of program and degree or certificate will best serve your needs. Each program provides different options for certification also. Probably the best means to research your final list of schools is to check out each campus and speak with the students and instructors. Invest some time to attend a few classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the school you pick is the best one for you. With the proper training, effort and dedication, the end outcome will be a new trade as a professional welder in North Pole AK.