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How to Select the Right Plumber Training near Anchorage Alaska

Anchorage Alaska plumber repairing sink faucetThe first step to becoming a plumbing tradesman or contractor is finding a plumbing trade school near Anchorage AK. But with numerous technical schools to select from, just how do you tackle making certain that you enroll in the ideal one? Particularly since there are a number of factors to evaluate. For instance, some potential students will commence by looking for schools that are nearby their home. Once they have identified some that are within driving range, they will pick the one with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are important, they are not the only factors that must be evaluated. Also important are the accreditation and reputations of the schools, in addition to their job placement and graduation rates. These and additional qualifiers should influence your final judgment when selecting a plumber training school. We will address that checklist in more detail later in this post. But first, let's talk a little bit about becoming a plumber and the educational choices that are accessible.

Becoming a Plumber

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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 Options

There 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 Plumber Tech Schools

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When you have made a decision to obtain a diploma, certificate or degree, you can start to refine your school options. Because there are so many plumbing tech and trade schools in the Anchorage AK area, it's imperative to have a checklist of qualifications that each program must satisfy. The first 2 that we discussed were location and tuition expense. And although both qualifiers may be crucial when making your decision, there are other factors that must be taken into account as well. Following is a checklist of those added qualifiers that you will need to assess before enrolling in a plumber technical school.

Is the Plumbing School Accredited?  Numerous plumbing technical programs have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They can earn Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, such as electrical technology. Confirm that the Anchorage AK school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting organization, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping ensure that you acquire a superior education, it may assist in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are often unavailable for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of states mandate that the plumbing training program be accredited for it to qualify for certification or licensing.

Is the Plumbing School Licensed?  Along with accreditation, another way of confirming that a vocational school you’re considering is reputable is by checking that it’s properly licensed.  Licensing is usually regulated and controlled by state agencies, such as the Alaska Department of Education.  If you’re not sure, ask the school which state agency is responsible for 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 schools you are considering what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students who enroll in and complete the course. A low completion rate might indicate that students were disappointed with the course and quit. It might also signify that the instructors were not qualified to instruct the students. It's also imperative that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive directory of alumni, which can result in more contacts for the school to use 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 additionally that it has the network of contacts to help grads secure apprenticeships or employment in the Anchorage AK area.

Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored?  Numerous plumber technical programs are taught along with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating vocational and trade programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of plumbing contractors or trade unions. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have referring partnerships with local Anchorage AK plumbers or plumbing specialists. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by supplying hands-on training, but it also provides employment opportunities and helps to form relationships in the regional plumbing professional community.

Are there Modern Facilities?  Make certain that the school facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are state-of-the-art and what you will be working with in the field. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the master plumber you are working with concerning what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Anchorage AK plumbing company if they can give you some suggestions.

Where is the School Located?  Unless you are able to relocate, the school must be within driving distance of your Anchorage AK home. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there might be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.

Are there Smaller Classes?  It's important that you get as much personalized instruction as possible, which can be challenging in bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a couple of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and experience the interaction between teachers and students. Talk with some of the students and get their feedback regarding 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 hold.

Is the Class Schedule Convenient?  Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you are only able to go to classes at night or on weekends near Anchorage AK, check that the programs you are comparing provide those options. If you can only attend part-time, be sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Finally, check out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family issues.

Learn More About Anchorage Plumber Training Schools

Choose the Right Anchorage Plumbing Vocational School

Choosing the best plumber trade school will undoubtedly be the most important decision you will make to launch your new trade. As we have addressed in this article, there are a number of factors that you will need to assess and compare among the training programs you are reviewing. It's a prerequisite that any plumber tech school that you are examining includes a considerable amount of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be small in size and every student should have their own equipment to train with. Classroom teaching should provide a real-world perspective, and the course of study should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Programs differ in duration and the type of credential provided, so you will need to ascertain what length of program and certificate or degree will best fulfill your needs. Every program offers different options for certification also. Perhaps The ideal approach to research your final list of schools is to go to each campus and speak with the teachers and students. Take the time to monitor some classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the program you decide on is the right one for you. With the right training, hard work and commitment, you can become a professional plumber in Anchorage AK.