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How to Find the Right Plumbing Course near Anchorage Alaska

Anchorage Alaska plumber replacing sink faucetThe initial step to becoming a plumbing contractor or tradesman is enrolling in a plumbing trade school near Anchorage AK. But with so many vocational schools to choose from, just how do you tackle making sure that you enroll in the ideal one? Especially because there are so many factors to consider. For instance, many prospective students will commence by searching for schools that are nearby their residence. When they have located some that are within commuting distance, they will choose the one with the lowest tuition. While location and cost are important, they are not the only qualifications that should be examined. Also important are the accreditation and reputations of the schools, as well as their job placement and graduation rates. These and additional qualifications should help mold your final decision when choosing a plumbing trade school. We will cover that checklist in greater detail later in this post. But to begin with, let's talk a little bit about becoming a plumber and the educational choices that are available.

What is 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.

Plumber 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.

Things to Ask Plumber Trade Schools

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Once you have made a decision to obtain a certificate, diploma or degree, you can begin to narrow down your school options. Since there are numerous plumbing trade and vocational schools in the Anchorage AK region, it's important to have a checklist of qualifications that each school must satisfy. The initial two that we talked about were location and the cost of tuition. And while both qualifiers may be important when making your decision, there are other factors that must be considered as well. Below is a checklist of those additional qualifications that you will need to research before choosing a plumber tech school.

Is the Plumbing School Accredited?  A large number of plumbing technical programs have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They may attain Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, for instance electrical technology. Make certain that the Anchorage AK school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping make certain that you acquire an excellent education, it can assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable for non-accredited schools. Additionally, many states mandate that the plumbing training program be accredited for it to qualify for licensing or certification.

Is the Plumbing School Licensed?  In addition to accreditation, another way of confirming that a trade 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 schools you are considering what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage or portion of students who enroll in and finish the course. A low completion rate could suggest that students were disappointed with the course and quit. It may also suggest that the teachers were not competent to train the students. It's also important that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader list of graduates, which can produce 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 trade, but additionally that it has the network of contacts to assist graduates obtain apprenticeships or jobs in the Anchorage AK area.

Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored?  Many plumber technical programs are taught together with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating trade and vocational schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of plumbing companies or trade unions. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have working relationships with local Anchorage AK plumbers or plumbing contractors. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by furnishing practical training, but it also supplies employment opportunities and helps to form relationships in the area plumbing professional community.

Are there Modern Facilities?  Make sure that the school facilities and the tools that you will be instructed on are up-to-date and what you will be working with on the job. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the master plumber you are working under regarding what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Anchorage AK plumbing company if they can give you some tips.

Where is the School Located?  Unless you can relocate, the school must be within commuting distance of your Anchorage AK residence. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there can 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 difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a few of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and experience the interaction between teachers and students. Speak to a few of the students and get their feedback 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?  Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are assessing are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you are only able to attend classes at night or on weekends near Anchorage AK, check that the schools you are reviewing provide those options. If you can only attend part-time, make certain that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family issues.

Find Out More About Anchorage Plumber Vocational Schools

Choose the Best Anchorage Plumber Training School

Choosing the ideal plumbing training program will undoubtedly be the most critical 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 assess and compare among the schools you are reviewing. It's a prerequisite that any plumber training that you are considering includes a good deal of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be smaller in size and each student should have their own equipment to train with. Classroom education needs to provide a real-world frame of reference, and the course of study should be current and in-line with industry standards. Courses vary in duration and the type of credential provided, so you will need to ascertain what length of program and credential will best satisfy your needs. Each program offers different options for certification also. Probably the best way to research your short list of schools is to check out each campus and talk with the faculty and students. Invest some time to monitor a few classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the training program you decide on is the ideal one for you. With the right training, hard work and dedication, you can become a professional plumber in Anchorage AK.