How to Pick a Welder Trade School near Girdwood Alaska
Locating the ideal welding school near Girdwood AK is an essential first step to beginning your new career as a professional welder. But since there are so many schools to pick from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more notably, once you have narrowed down your choices, how do you select the best one? Most people begin by looking at the schools that are closest to their homes. Once they have found those that are within commuting distance, they gravitate toward the least expensive one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are important issues when examining welding vocational schools, but they are not the only ones. Other factors include such things as reputation, accreditation and job placement rates. So before beginning your search for a trade school to become a welder, it’s sensible to develop a list of qualifications that your chosen school must have. But before we explore our due diligence checklist, let’s talk a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welder Certificate and Degree Training Programs
There are several alternatives available to get training as a welder in a trade or vocational school. You can obtain a diploma, a certificate 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 combined with an apprenticeship program. Following are brief descriptions of the most typical welding programs available in the Girdwood AK area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are usually made available by technical and trade schools and require about a year to finish. They are more hands-on training in scope, fashioned mainly to develop 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 two years to finish and are most often offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology provides a more extensive education than the certificate or diploma while still providing the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
A number of states and municipalities do have licensing prerequisites for welders, therefore don’t forget to check for your location of future employment. As required, the Girdwood AK welder school you pick should ready you for any licensing examinations that you will need to pass in addition to supplying the suitable training to become a qualified welder.
Welder Certification Choices
There are multiple organizations that provide welder certifications, which test the skill level and knowledge of those applying. A large number of Girdwood AK employers not only demand a degree or certificate from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a renowned agency such as 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 skills 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
- Work in compliance with contract specifications
As previously stated, many states, cities or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those mandating licensing, a number additionally require certification for different kinds of work. Certification is also a way to demonstrate to employers that you are an extremely skilled and qualified welder. So just as with licensing, look into the requirements for your location and make sure that the Girdwood AK welder trade school you select preps you for certification as needed.
Online Welder Courses
Welding is truly a hands-on kind of vocation, and for that reason not very suitable for training online. Having said that, there are a few online welding courses offered by certain community colleges and trade schools that may be credited toward a certificate or degree program. These classes primarily deal with such topics as reading blueprints, safety,, and metallurgy. They can help give a beginner a foundation to begin their education and training. However, the most critical point is that you can’t learn how to weld or work with welding materials until you actually do it. Naturally that can’t be accomplished online. These skills must be learned in an on-campus setting or in an apprenticeship. Online or distance learning is more appropriate for seasoned Girdwood AK welders that want to advance their expertise or possibly obtain a more advanced degree. So if you should discover an online welding certificate or degree program, be extremely careful and confirm that the greater part of the training is done on campus or in a workshop type of setting.
How to Select a Welder Trade School near Girdwood AK
After you have decided on the credential you would like to obtain, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can start to assess schools. As you can imagine, there are numerous welding trade and vocational schools in the Girdwood AK area. That’s why it’s necessary to determine in advance what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have already discussed two significant ones that many 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 considered. After all, the school you decide on is going to furnish the instruction that will be the foundation of your new profession as a welder. So following are some additional factors you may need to evaluate before choosing a welding trade school.
Accreditation. It’s essential that the Girdwood AK welding tech school you choose is accredited by either a national or a regional agency. There are two basic kinds of accreditation. The school may receive Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a specific program the school has, such as Welding Technology. So make certain that the program you pick is accredited, not just the school alone. Additionally, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, like the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping make sure that you get an excellent education, the accreditation may also assist in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable for schools that are not accredited. Finally, for those states or local governments that mandate licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited also.
Job Placement and Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous welder degree or certificate programs are offered combined with an apprenticeship program. Other schools will assist in placing you in an apprenticeship or a job upon graduation. Find out if the schools you are considering assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. The schools must have relationships with local unions and other Girdwood AK 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 referrals. These programs can help students find employment and develop relationships within the local welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that enroll in an academic program and complete it. It’s essential that the welder program you choose has a higher completion rate. A low rate may mean that the students who enrolled in the program were dissatisfied with the instruction, the instructors, or the facilities, and quit. The job placement rate is also an indication of the quality of training. A higher job placement rate will not only verify that the school has an excellent reputation within the trade, but additionally that it has the network of Girdwood AK employer relationships to assist students secure apprenticeships or employment upon graduation.
Up-to-date Facilities and Equipment. Once you have narrowed down your selection of welding schools to 2 or 3 possibilities, you should think out visiting the campuses to inspect their facilities. Verify that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are up-to-date. In particular, the training equipment should be comparable to what you will be using on the job. If you are uncertain 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 Girdwood AK welding professional if they can give you some pointers.
School Location. Although we already briefly covered the relevance of location, there are a couple of additional points that we need to deal with. You should remember that unless you are able to move, the welding school you select needs to be within commuting distance of your Girdwood AK home. If you do choose to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation expenses there could be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially the case for welder degree programs offered by community colleges. Furthermore, if the school offers an apprenticeship or job placement program, most likely their placements are within the school’s regional community. So the location of the school should be in a region or state where you ultimately will want to work.
Small Classes. Personalized training is essential for a manual trade such as welding. It’s easy to get overlooked in larger classes and not get much one-on-one instruction. Find out what the average class size is for the welding programs you are looking at. Inquire if you can sit in on a few classes so that you can witness how much personal attention the students are getting. While there, speak with a few of the students and get their feedback. Also, speak with some of the teachers and find out what their welding experience has been in Alaska and what credentials and certifications they have earned.
Convenient Class Scheduling. Many people learn a new profession while still employed at their current job. Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are looking at are convenient enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Girdwood AK, make sure that the schools you are reviewing provide those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you decide on offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the protocol is to make up classes if you you miss any because of work, illness or family circumstances.
Looking at Welding Schools in Girdwood AK?
Girdwood is a resort town within the southern extent of the Municipality of Anchorage in the state of Alaska. Located near the end of the Turnagain Arm of Cook Inlet, Girdwood lies in a valley in the southwestern Chugach Mountains, surrounded by seven glaciers feeding into a number of creeks, which either converge within the valley or empty directly into the arm. Girdwood is typically accessed by the Seward Highway (Milepost 90), with the main line of the Alaska Railroad paralleling the highway. By road distance, most of the community lies within 35 to 40 miles (56 to 64 km) of downtown Anchorage. According to 2014 estimates, a little under 2,000 people live in the valley.
Founded as a community to supply miners during the Turnagain Arm gold rushes of the 1890s, Girdwood was mostly a small, quiet place until the middle of the 20th century. Two events drastically altered that. The first was the establishment of Alyeska Resort along the slopes of Mount Alyeska, which became an international destination coincidental with Anchorage's civic promotion of itself as "The Air Crossroads of the World". The second was the 1964 earthquake, which devastated the original townsite located directly along the arm. Following the earthquake, most of the town moved further up the valley to a new townsite, though a few homes remained and a strip mall was later constructed along the Seward Highway. Historically dominated in the years since the resort's opening by seasonally-occupied vacation homes and seasonal activity at the resort, the opening of the Alyeska Prince Hotel during the 1990s has shifted the resort, and hence Girdwood as a whole, more towards year-round activity and a year-round economy. This has led to periodic debates about community growth and affordability of housing for resort workers, many of whom over the years have resorted to camping illegally on public lands.
Girdwood still revolves heavily around seasonal activity, with skiing and snowboarding at Alyeska Resort bringing visitors and their money into the community. Summer activities are also popular, which include hiking, fishing and rafting. The Girdwood Forest Fair, held every July, is the community's most significant visitor attraction apart from resort-related activities. Girdwood is located within the northernmost extent of rain forest on Earth, and also serves as the closest point of access to Chugach National Forest from Anchorage proper.
Originally called "Glacier City," Girdwood was founded as a supply camp for placer gold miners with claims along the creeks feeding Turnagain Arm. It was renamed for Colonel James Girdwood, a Belfast-born, Scots-Irish entrepreneur and linen merchant who staked the first four gold claims along Crow Creek in 1896.
Pick the Best Welding Technical School near Girdwood AK
Choosing the ideal welder school will probably be the most critical decision you will make to begin your new trade. As we have covered in this article, there are a number of things that you will need to assess and compare among the programs you are looking at. It’s a must that any welder training program that you are reviewing includes a lot of hands-on training. Classes need to be smaller in size and each student must have their personal welding machine to train on. Classroom teaching should offer a real-world frame of reference, and the course of study should be current and conform with industry standards. Courses vary in length and the kind of credential provided, so you will have to determine what length of program and certificate or degree will best serve your needs. Each training program provides different options for certification also. Probably the best way to research your final list of schools is to check out each campus and speak with the faculty and students. Take the time to sit in on a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the training program you select is the right one for you. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, the final outcome will be a new trade as a professional welder in Girdwood AK.
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