How to Choose the Right Plumbing Trade School near Anchorage Alaska
The first step to learning to be a plumbing tradesman or contractor is enrolling in a plumbing trade school near Anchorage AK. But with numerous vocational schools to choose from, just how do you go about making certain that you enroll in the ideal one? Particularly since there are a number of factors to evaluate. For instance, many students will begin by searching for schools that are close to their residence. When they have found several that are within commuting range, they will choose the one with the cheapest tuition. While cost and location are significant, they are not the only things that need to be considered. Also important are the reputations of the schools, their accreditation, along with their job placement and graduation rates. These and other qualifiers should contribute toward your ultimate judgment when selecting a plumbing training school. We will cover that checklist in more detail later in this article. But to begin with, let's talk a little bit about becoming a plumber and the training options that are offered.
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.
Plumbing Degree and Certificate OptionsThere 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.
Points to Ask Plumbing Technical Schools
Once you have decided to earn a certificate, diploma or degree, you can start to focus your school options. Considering that there are so many plumbing tech and trade schools in the Anchorage AK region, it's important to have a checklist of criteria that each school must satisfy. The initial two that we mentioned were location and the cost of tuition. And although both qualifiers may be important when making your selection, there are additional factors that need to be considered as well. Following is a checklist of those additional qualifiers that you will need to analyze before choosing a plumber technical school.
Is the Plumbing School Accredited? A large number of plumbing vocational programs have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They can acquire Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, such as electrical technology. Confirm that the Anchorage AK program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping guarantee that you obtain an excellent education, it may help in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. Furthermore, a number of states mandate that the plumbing training course be accredited in order to qualify for licensing or certification.
Is the Plumbing School Licensed? Along with accreditation, another way of determining if a vocational school you’re considering is reputable is by checking that it’s properly licensed. Licensing is typically controlled and regulated by state agencies, such as the Alaska Department of Education. If you don’t know, ask the school which state agency is responsible for its licensing and then check to ensure 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 complete the course. A low completion rate may suggest that students were unhappy with the program and quit. It might also mean that the instructors were not qualified to train the students. It's also essential that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader directory of alumni, which can mean more contacts for the school to utilize 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 students acquire apprenticeships or jobs in the Anchorage AK area.
Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored? A large number of plumber trade programs are taught in conjunction with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating technical and vocational schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of plumbing companies or trade unions. Find out if the schools you are considering have working partnerships with local Anchorage AK plumbers or plumbing professionals. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by supplying hands-on training, but it also provides employment opportunities and helps to form relationships in the local plumbing professional community.
Are there Modern Facilities? Make sure that the campus facilities and the tools that you will be instructed on are up-to-date and what you will be working with in the field. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the master plumber you are working under concerning what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Anchorage AK plumbing contractor if they can provide some suggestions.
Where is the School Located? Unless you are willing to move, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Anchorage AK home. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there can be increased tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Are there Smaller Classes? It's desirable that you get as much one-on-one instruction as possible, which can be difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor some of the classes so that you can see how big they are and experience the interaction between teachers and students. Talk to several of the students and get their opinions concerning class sizes and instruction. Last, talk with some of the instructors and find out what their level of experience is in Anchorage AK and what degrees or certifications they hold.
Is the Class Schedule Convenient? Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you are only able to attend classes at night or on weekends near Anchorage AK, confirm that the programs you are comparing provide those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family emergencies.
Choose the Right Anchorage Plumbing Vocational School
Selecting the right plumbing trade school will undoubtedly be the most important decision you will make to begin your new career. As we have addressed in this article, there are several factors that you will need to examine and compare between the training programs you are considering. It's a must that any plumber training program that you are examining includes a lot of hands-on instruction. Classes should be smaller in size and every student should have their personal equipment to train with. Classroom teaching needs to offer a real-world context, and the course of study should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Courses vary in duration and the type of credential offered, so you will need to determine what length of program and degree or certificate will best fulfill your needs. Each program provides unique possibilities for certification also. Perhaps The ideal way to research your short list of schools is to visit each campus and speak with the students and instructors. Take the time to monitor a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the program you pick is the best one for you. With the proper training, effort and commitment, you can become a professional plumber in Anchorage AK.