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How to Pick the Right Plumbing School near Eagle River Alaska

Eagle River Alaska plumber repairing kitchen sink faucetThe initial step to learning to be a plumbing contractor or tradesman is enrolling in a plumbing trade school near Eagle River AK. But with numerous technical schools to choose from, just how do you tackle making certain that you enroll in the right one? Especially because there are so many variables to consider. For example, some potential students will begin by looking for schools that are close to their home. When they have identified several that are within commuting distance, they will select the one with the most affordable tuition. While location and cost are important, they are not the only things that need to be considered. Also important are the reputations of the schools, their accreditation, as well as their job placement and graduation rates. These and other qualifications should contribute toward your final decision when selecting a plumbing training school. We will address that checklist in more detail later in this post. But to begin with, let's talk a little bit about becoming a plumber and the training choices that are accessible.

Becoming a Plumber

Eagle River Alaska plumber adjusting water pipe

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 Eagle River AK plumber will typically advance through three phases during their professional career.

  • Apprentice. The majority of Eagle River 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 Eagle River 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 Eagle River 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.

What to Ask Plumber Vocational Schools

Eagle River Alaska plumber installing hot water heater

When you have made a decision to earn a diploma, certificate or degree, you can begin to narrow down your school options. Considering that there are numerous plumbing tech and trade schools in the Eagle River AK region, it's imperative to have a checklist of criteria that each program must meet. The first two that we discussed were location and tuition expense. And while both qualifiers may be important when making your determination, there are other factors that must be taken into account as well. Below is a checklist of those added qualifications that you will need to research prior to enrolling in a plumber trade school.

Is the Plumbing School Accredited?  Many plumbing trade programs have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They can earn 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 Eagle River AK program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting agency, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping ensure that you acquire a superior education, it may help in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited programs. Furthermore, many 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, an additional way of determining if a vocational school you’re considering is reputable is by checking that it’s properly licensed.  Licensing is typically regulated and controlled by state agencies, such as the Alaska Department of Education.  If you’re not sure, 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 Eagle River 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 of students who enroll in and finish the program. A lower completion rate could signify that students were unhappy with the program and quit. It could also signify that the teachers were not competent to train the students. It's also important that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive list of graduates, which may produce more contacts for the school to employ for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only confirm that the school has a good reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of contacts to help students obtain apprenticeships or jobs in the Eagle River AK area.

Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored?  Most plumber vocational programs are taught along with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating vocational and technical programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of plumbing contractors or labor unions. Find out if the schools you are comparing have referring partnerships with local Eagle River AK plumbers or plumbing specialists. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by furnishing hands-on training, but it also supplies employment opportunities and helps to form relationships in the regional plumbing professional community.

Are there Modern Facilities?  Confirm that the campus 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 already 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 Eagle River AK plumbing contracting company if they can give you some pointers.

Where is the School Located?  Unless you are willing to move, the school must be within driving distance of your Eagle River AK residence. Take note that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there might be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.

Are there Smaller Classes?  It's desirable that you get as much individualized training as possible, which can be challenging in bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on some of the classes so that you can see how big they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and instructors. Speak with some of the students and get their opinions relating to class sizes and instruction. Last, speak to some of the teachers and learn what their level of experience is in Eagle River AK and what certifications or degrees they have earned.

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 attend classes at night or on weekends near Eagle River AK, check that the schools you are reviewing provide those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, be sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Additionally, check out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family responsibilities.

Find Out More About Eagle River Plumbing Trade Schools

Enroll in the Right Eagle River Plumbing Trade School

Choosing the best plumbing trade school will undoubtedly be the most critical decision you will make to begin your new career. As we have covered in this article, there are a number of factors that you will need to examine and compare among the schools you are looking at. It's a necessity that any plumbing training that you are examining includes a considerable amount of hands-on training. Classes should be smaller in size and each student must have their own equipment to train with. Classroom instruction should provide a real-world context, and the training program should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Training programs vary in duration and the kind of credential offered, so you will have to decide what length of program and certificate or degree will best fulfill your needs. Each training program offers unique options for certification as well. Perhaps the best way to research your short list of schools is to go to each campus and speak with the students and instructors. Invest some time to attend a few classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the training program you decide on is the best one for you. With the right training, hard work and commitment, you can become a professional plumber in Eagle River AK.