How to Pick a Welder Certification Program near Kodiak Alaska
Locating the ideal welding trade school near Kodiak AK is an essential first step to launching your new career as a professional welder. But since there are a lot of schools to pick from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more notably, once you have narrowed down your alternatives, how do you select the best one? A number of people begin by looking at the schools that are nearest to their homes. Once they have identified those that are within driving distance, they gravitate toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and tuition cost are necessary considerations when evaluating welding vocational schools, but they are not the only ones. Other considerations include such things as accreditation, reputation and job placement rates. So before initiating your search for a vocational school to become a welder, it’s wise to establish a list of qualifications that your selected school must have. But before we delve into our due diligence checklist, let’s talk a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welding Certificate and Degree Training
There are a number of alternatives available to obtain training as a welder in a technical or trade school. You can receive a diploma, a certificate 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 made available combined with an apprenticeship program. Following are brief descriptions of the most typical welding programs available near Kodiak AK.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are usually made available by Kodiak AK area technical and trade schools and require about 1 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 experienced welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take 2 years to finish and are usually offered by Alaska community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology furnishes a more extensive education than the certificate or diploma while still supplying the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
Many municipalities and states do have licensing requirements for welders, so be sure to find out for your location of potential employment. As needed, the welding school you choose should prep you for any licensing examinations that you will need to pass in addition to providing the suitable training to become a professional welder in Kodiak AK.
Welding Certification Choices
There are various organizations that offer welder certifications, which evaluate the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Numerous Kodiak AK employers not only demand a degree or certificate from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a highly regarded agency such as the American Welding Society (AWS). A wide range of certifications are offered based on the type of work that the welder performs. A few of the skills 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
- Work according to contract specifications
As already mentioned, some states, cities or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those mandating licensing, some additionally require certification for various kinds of work. Certification is also a way to prove to Kodiak AK employers that you are an exceptionally skilled and experienced welder. So just as with licensing, look into the requirements for your location and make sure that the welder technical school you choose readies you for certification as needed.
Online Welding Courses
Welding is very much a hands-on kind of vocation, and for that reason not extremely compatible with online training. Even so, there are a few online welding courses offered by certain community colleges and technical schools that may be credited toward a certificate or degree program. These courses mainly deal with such topics as safety, reading blueprints, and metallurgy. They can help give 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 handle welding materials unless you actually do it. Naturally that can’t be done online. These skills must be learned in an on-campus environment or in an apprenticeship near Kodiak AK. Online or distance learning is more appropriate for seasoned welders that want to advance their knowledge or possibly obtain a more advanced degree. So if you should come across an online welding degree or certificate program, be extremely cautious and verify that the greater part of the training is done on campus or in a workshop type of environment.
How to Pick a Welding Vocational Program
When you have chosen the credential you would like to earn, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can start to evaluate schools. As you can imagine, there are numerous welding vocational and trade schools in the Kodiak AK area. That’s why it’s important to establish up front what qualifications your chosen school must have. We have already discussed a couple of significant ones that many people look at first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As mentioned, although they are very important qualifications, they are not the only ones that should be considered. After all, the school you decide on is going to provide the education that will be the foundation of your new profession as a welder. So below are some additional factors you might need to consider before selecting a welding technical school.
Accreditation. It’s essential that the Kodiak AK welder tech school you pick is accredited by either a national or a regional organization. There are two basic types 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 instance Welding Technology. So verify 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, such as the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping make sure that you obtain a superior education, the accreditation may also assist in securing financial aid or student loans, which are often unavailable for non-accredited schools. Finally, for those states or municipalities that mandate licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited as well.
Job Assistance and Apprenticeship Programs. Many welder certificate or degree programs are offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Other schools will assist in placing 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. These schools must have associations with local unions and various Kodiak AK metal working businesses to which they can place their students. Older schools may have a more substantial network of graduates that they can rely upon for placements. These programs can help students find employment and develop associations within the regional welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that begin an educational program and complete it. It’s important that the welder program you choose has a high completion rate. A lower rate might indicate that the students who joined the program were unhappy with the training, the instructors, or the facilities, and quit. The job placement rate is also a good indicator of the quality of training. A high job placement rate will not only verify that the school has a good reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of Kodiak AK employer relationships to help students secure apprenticeships or employment after graduation.
Up-to-date Facilities and Equipment. After you have limited your selection of welder programs to two or three options, you should consider going to the campuses to evaluate their facilities. Confirm that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are up-to-date. In particular, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be using 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. If not, ask a local Kodiak AK welding contractor if they can give you some pointers.
School Location. Although we previously briefly talked about the importance of location, there are a couple of additional issues that we should address. You should keep in mind that unless you have the ability to move, the welding school you choose needs to be within driving distance of your Kodiak AK home. If you do decide to attend an out-of-state school, apart from relocation costs there may be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially the case for welder certificate 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 needs to be in an area or state where you subsequently will wish to work.
Small Classes. Individualized instruction is important for a manual trade such as welding. It’s possible to be overlooked in bigger classes and not get much individualized instruction. Find out what the average class size is for the welder programs you are looking at. Inquire if you can sit in on a couple of classes so that you can see how much individual attention the students are receiving. While there, speak with some of the students and get their feedback. Similarly, chat with some of the teachers and ask what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they have earned.
Flexible Class Schedules. Lots of folks learn a new profession while still working at their current job. Make sure that the class schedules for the schools you are looking at are flexible enough to satisfy your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Kodiak AK, confirm that the schools you are considering offer those choices. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, confirm that the school you pick offers part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the protocol is to make up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family emergencies.
Being a Welder in Kodiak AK
Kodiak (Alutiiq: Sun'aq; Russian: Кадьяк, tr. Kadʹyak) is one of seven communities and the main city on Kodiak Island, Kodiak Island Borough, in the U.S. state of Alaska. All commercial transportation between the entire island and the outside world goes through this city either via ferryboat or airline. The population was 6,130 as of the 2010 census. 2014 estimates put the population at 6,304.
After the Alaska Purchase by the United States in 1867, Kodiak became a commercial fishing center which continues to be the mainstay of its economy. A lesser economic influence includes tourism, mainly by those seeking outdoor adventure trips. Salmon, halibut, the unique Kodiak bear, elk, Sitka deer (black tail), and mountain goats attract hunting tourists as well as fishermen to the Kodiak Archipelago. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game maintains an office in the city and a website to help hunters and fishermen obtain the proper permits and learn about the laws specific to the Kodiak area.
The city has four public elementary schools, a middle and high school, as well as a branch of the University of Alaska. An antenna farm at the summit of Pillar Mountain above the city historically provided communication with the outside world before fiber optic cable was run. Transportation to and from the island is provided by ferry service on the Alaska Marine Highway as well as local commercial airlines.
The Kodiak Archipelago has been home to the Alutiiq for over 7,000 years. In their language, qikertaq means "island". In 1763, the Russian explorer Stephan Glotov discovered the island, calling it Kad’yak (Кадьяк). He was followed by the British captain James Cook fifteen years later, who first recorded "Kodiak" in his journals in 1778.
Pick the Right Welding Tech School Kodiak AK
Selecting the ideal welding training program will probably be the most important decision you will make to launch your new profession. As we have covered in this article, there are many things that you will need to evaluate and compare among the schools you are reviewing. It’s a necessity that any welding training program that you are examining includes a lot of hands-on training. Classes should be small in size and each student should have their own welding machine to train on. Classroom teaching should provide a real-world frame of reference, and the curriculum should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Courses vary in duration and the kind of credential provided, so you will need to determine what length of program and credential will best fulfill your needs. Each program offers different options for certification as well. Perhaps the best means to research your final list of schools is to visit 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 sure that you are confident that the program you pick is the best one for you. With the right training, hard work and commitment, the final outcome will be a new career as a professional welder in Kodiak AK.