How to Select a Welder Certification Class near Soldotna Alaska
Locating the right welding vocational school near Soldotna AK is an important first step to launching your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are so many schools to pick from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more significantly, once you have fine tuned your alternatives, how do you pick the best one? Many people begin by reviewing the schools that are nearest to their homes. Once they have found those that are within commuting distance, they are drawn toward the least expensive one. Yes, location and tuition cost are important considerations when reviewing welder vocational 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 trade school to become a welder, it’s wise to create 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.
Welding Certificate and Degree 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 Engineering or Welding Technology, but are more advanced degrees than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Below are short explanations of the most common welding programs available in the Soldotna AK.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are usually made available by technical and trade schools and require about one year to finish. They are more hands-on training in nature, designed primarily to teach welding skills. They can furnish a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or additional skills for working 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 well-rounded education than the diploma or certificate while still supplying the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
Some municipalities and states do have licensing prerequisites for welders, therefore be sure to find out for your location of future employment. As required, the welder school you pick should ready you for any licensing examinations that you will need to pass in addition to furnishing the appropriate training to become a professional welder.
Welding Certification Choices
There are a number of institutions that provide welder certifications, which evaluate the knowledge and skill level of those applying. Numerous Soldotna AK employers not only require a degree or certificate from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a renowned organization such as the American Welding Society (AWS). Different certifications are offered dependent on the kind of work that the welder does. Some of the things 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 stated, some cities, states or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those requiring licensing, a number additionally require certification for different types of work. Certification is also a means to prove to employers that you are an extremely skilled and qualified welder. So similarly as with licensing, look into the requirements for your local area and make sure that the welder trade school you select readies you for certification as needed.
How to Pick a Welder Technical School
After you have decided on the credential you would like to obtain, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can begin to assess schools. As you probably know, there are numerous welder trade and technical schools in the Soldotna AK area. That’s why it’s important to establish up front what qualifications your chosen school must have. We have previously discussed 2 important ones that many people consider first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As mentioned, although they are essential qualifiers, they are not the only ones that need to be looked at. After all, the school you choose is going to furnish the instruction that will be the foundation of your new vocation as a welder. So following are some additional factors you might want to consider before choosing a welder vocational school.
Accreditation. It’s very important that the welding technical school you decide on is accredited by either a regional or a national agency. There are two standard types of accreditation. The school may earn Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a specific program the school has, for instance Welding Technology. So make sure 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 organization, like the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). In addition to helping ensure that you get a quality education, the accreditation can also assist in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases not offered in Soldotna AK for non-accredited schools. Also, for those states or municipalities that require licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited also.
Job Placement and Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of welding degree or certificate programs are offered combined with an apprenticeship program. Other schools will help place you in a job or an apprenticeship after graduation. Ask if the schools you are looking at assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. These schools must have associations with local unions and other metal working businesses to which they can place their students. Older schools may have a larger network of graduates that they can rely upon for referrals. These programs can assist students in finding employment and establish relationships within the Soldotna AK welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that enroll in an instructional program and complete it. It’s essential that the welding program you select has a high completion rate. A reduced rate might signify 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 verify that the program has an excellent reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of Soldotna AK contacts to help students obtain apprenticeships or employment after graduation.
Up-to-date Facilities and Equipment. After you have decreased your choice of welding 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 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 uncertain what to look for, and are currently in an apprenticeship program, consult with the master welder you are working under for guidance. Otherwise, ask a local Soldotna AK welding professional if they can give you some suggestions.
School Location. Although we previously briefly talked about the significance of location, there are a couple of additional points that we should cover. You should bear in mind that unless you can relocate, the welder school you select must be within driving distance of your Soldotna AK home. If you do decide 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 welder diploma programs offered by community colleges. Furthermore, if the school offers an apprenticeship or job placement program, often their placements are within the school’s local community. So the location of the school should be in a region 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 be overlooked in bigger classes and not receive much personalized training. Find out what the usual class size is for the welding schools you are looking at. Ask if you can attend a couple of classes so that you can experience just how much personal attention the students are getting. While there, speak with some of the students and get their opinions. Also, speak with some 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 employed at their present job. Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are looking at are convenient enough to meet your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Soldotna AK, confirm that the schools you are assessing provide those choices. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, verify that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the protocol is to make up classes if you you miss any due to work, sickness or family emergencies.
Will You Be Attending Welding School Near Soldotna AK?
Perhaps you live in the Soldotna 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.
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.
In 1947, after World War II, the United States government withdrew a number of townships along Cook Inlet and the lower Kenai River from the Kenai National Moose Range, opening up the area to settlement under the Homestead Act. Veterans of the United States armed services were given a 90-day preference over non-veterans in selecting land and filing for property. Also in that year, the Sterling Highway right-of-way was cleared of trees from Cooper Landing to Kenai. The location of present-day Soldotna was selected as the site for the highway's bridge crossing the Kenai River.
Online Welding Training Programs
Welding is truly a hands-on type of vocation, and consequently not extremely compatible with online training. Having said that, there are a few online welding courses offered by certain community colleges and trade schools in the greater Soldotna AK area that may be credited toward a degree or certificate program. These classes mainly cover such subjects as reading blueprints, safety,, and metallurgy. They can help provide a beginner a foundation to start their education and training. Nevertheless, the most significant point is that you can’t learn how to weld or use welding materials until you actually do it. Obviously that can’t be done 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 degree or certificate program, be extremely cautious and make sure that the larger part of the training is done on campus or in a workshop type of setting.
Pick the Ideal Welding Technical School Soldotna AK
Picking the best welding training program will undoubtedly be the most critical decision you will make to begin your new career. As we have discussed in this article, there are several factors that you will need to evaluate and compare between the schools you are considering. It’s a necessity that any welding training program that you are examining includes a lot of hands-on instruction. Classes should be smaller in size and each student must have their own welding machine to train on. Classroom instruction should offer a real-world frame of reference, and the course of study should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Training programs vary in length and the type of credential offered, so you will have to decide what length of program and degree or certificate will best satisfy your needs. Each training program provides unique possibilities for certification as well. Probably the best way to research your short list of schools is to visit each campus and speak with the students and faculty. Take the time to monitor some classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the program you choose is the ideal one for you. With the proper training, effort and dedication, the final result will be a new trade as a professional welder in Soldotna AK.