How to Select the Right Plumber Technical School near Anchorage Alaska
The first step to learning to be a plumbing contractor or tradesman is finding a plumbing trade school near Anchorage AK. But with numerous vocational schools to pick from, just how do you tackle making certain that you enroll in the best one? Especially since there are a number of points to consider. For instance, some potential students will commence by looking for schools that are close to their residence. Once they have located some that are within commuting range, they will pick the one with the most affordable tuition. Even though cost and location are of importance, they are not the only qualifications that should be evaluated. Also important are the reputations of the schools, their accreditation, as well as their job placement and graduation rates. These and additional qualifiers should contribute toward your final decision when selecting a plumbing trade school. We will talk about that checklist in more detail later in this article. But first, let's review a little bit about becoming a plumber and the educational choices that are accessible.
What is a Plumber?
Almost everyone at one time or another has needed the services of a professional plumber. It may have been due to a leaky faucet or perhaps a hot water heater needed to be replaced. Plumbers provide a valuable service for the maintenance of both commercial and residential buildings. They are skilled tradesmen who are trained in the installation, repair and replacement of plumbing systems. These systems include pipes, plumbing fixtures, water based heating and cooling, sewage removal and sprinklers. A local Anchorage AK plumber will typically advance through three phases during their professional career.
- Apprentice. The majority of Anchorage AK plumbers begin their careers as an Apprentice. Apprenticeships are often completed in tandem with a formalized plumbing training program. Apprentices are typically paid but unlicensed and work under the guidance of a licensed plumber during working hours and attend plumber training classes at night. The second phase of their career begins once the apprenticeship and the training program have been completed.
- Journeyman Plumber. Once the apprenticeship has been completed as well as any required training program, application for Journeyman Plumber licensing can be made. Most often licensing is controlled by the state but can be managed more locally at the county or city level. A Journeyman license will only be issued after all requirements have been met, including a passing score on the licensing exam. Even though a Journeyman is more knowledgeable and experienced than an Apprentice, they generally must continue to be supervised, in this case by a Master Plumber.
- Master Plumber. After attaining the necessary work experience and completing any additional educational requirements, the Journeyman can apply to become a Master Plumber. Once again a passing score must be achieved on the licensing exam before a license will be issued. There are several benefits to advancing to the Master Plumber level, including earnings at the highest pay level, unsupervised working conditions, and the ability to start and own a business. Master Plumbers may also hire and supervise both Journeymen and Apprentices.
As a technical field requiring a high level of skill and competence, plumbing can take years of both training and experience to master. As a consequence, the best opportunity for success for a new Apprentice in Anchorage AK is to enroll in a plumbing technology program that will provide the comprehensive quality training needed to embark on this challenging career.
Plumber Certificate and Degree ProgramsThere are several educational options available near Anchorage AK to receive the necessary training to begin your career as a plumber. As far as the schools offering programs, you can enroll in a trade, technical or vocational school as well as a local community college. The programs offered will vary, but in general the shortest is the certificate program which will focus on the fundamentals and generally take about a year to complete. An Associate Degree will take 2 years to complete and will provide a more comprehensive education. There are some colleges that do offer a Bachelor Degree in plumbing technology, which are 4 year programs and much broader in nature. When choosing a school and program, naturally the completion time and the cost will be important factors. Tuition can vary significantly among the various schools and colleges and for some private schools can be quite expensive. State schools and community colleges typically offer their programs at the lower end of the tuition scale. However, when making your comparisons, keep in mind that many schools offer financial aid and even scholarships to help offset some of the financial burden. So be sure to find out what is available for each school and program before making your final decision.
Questions to Ask Plumbing Technical Schools
Now that you have made a decision to obtain a diploma, certificate or degree, you can begin to focus your school options. Since there are so many plumbing vocational and trade schools in the Anchorage AK area, it's essential to have a checklist of criteria that each school must satisfy. The first two that we discussed were location and tuition expense. And while both qualifiers may be crucial when making your selection, there are other variables that need to be taken into account as well. Following is a checklist of those added qualifiers that you will need to research before choosing a plumber vocational school.
Is the Plumbing School Accredited? Many plumbing technical schools have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They can attain Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, such as electrical technology. Make certain that the Anchorage AK program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping make certain that you acquire a quality education, it may help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable for non-accredited programs. Additionally, a number of states mandate that the plumbing training course be accredited for it to qualify for licensing or certification.
Is the Plumbing School Licensed? In addition to accreditation, another way of determining if a vocational school you’re considering is reputable is by checking that it’s properly licensed. Licensing is usually controlled and regulated by state agencies, such as the Alaska Department of Education. If you don’t know, ask the school which state agency regulates its licensing and then verify that it’s up to date.
How Long has the School been in Business? Another means of determining the quality of a technical school is to find out how long it’s been in business. The longer a school has been in operation, the more likely that its programs are highly rated and regarded. Conversely, schools that are not well regarded or that provide low quality training generally don’t stand the test of time. However, keep in mind that even the best of Anchorage AK schools had to start from their first day of operation, so only use it as one of several qualifications for each school you are considering.
What are the School’s Completion and Placement Rates? Ask the plumbing training programs you are reviewing what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and finish the program. A lower completion rate may suggest that students were disappointed with the course and quit. It might also indicate that the instructors were not qualified to train the students. It's similarly essential that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader directory of alumni, which may mean more contacts for the school to employ for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only affirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of contacts to assist grads acquire apprenticeships or employment in the Anchorage AK area.
Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored? Many plumber training programs are taught in conjunction with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating trade and technical schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of plumbing contractors or trade unions. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have referring partnerships with local Anchorage AK plumbers or plumbing contractors. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by furnishing practical training, but it also furnishes employment opportunities and helps to build relationships in the regional plumbing professional community.
Are there Modern Facilities? Make certain that the school facilities and the tools that you will be instructed on are state-of-the-art and what you will be using in the field. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the master plumber you are working with regarding what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Anchorage AK plumbing contractor if they can give you some tips.
Where is the School Located? Unless you are able to relocate, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Anchorage AK residence. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there may be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Are there Smaller Classes? It's important that you receive as much personalized training as possible, which can be challenging in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor a couple of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and instructors. Speak with a few of the students and get their comments concerning class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk with some of the instructors and learn what their level of experience is in Anchorage AK and what certifications or degrees they have earned.
Is the Class Schedule Convenient? Make sure that the class schedules for the schools you are assessing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you are only able to attend classes at night or on weekends near Anchorage AK, check that the schools you are comparing offer those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, be sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Additionally, find out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family issues.
Enroll in the Best Anchorage Plumber Training School
Picking the right plumber training program will undoubtedly be the most important decision you will make to begin your new profession. As we have addressed in this article, there are several factors that you will need to examine and compare among the training programs you are looking at. It's a must that any plumbing training that you are examining includes a good deal of hands-on instruction. Classes should be small in size and each student should have their own equipment to train with. Classroom teaching should offer a real-world context, and the curriculum should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Courses differ in duration and the type of credential offered, so you will have to determine what length of program and credential will best serve your needs. Every training program offers unique options for certification as well. Probably the best means to research your final list of schools is to visit each campus and speak with the students and instructors. Take the time to monitor some classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the program you decide on is the right one for you. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, you can become a professional plumber in Anchorage AK.