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How to Select the Right Plumber School near Eagle River Alaska

Eagle River Alaska plumbing contractor replacing kitchen sink faucetThe first step to learning to be a plumbing contractor or tradesman is locating a plumbing trade school near Eagle River AK. But with numerous vocational schools to pick from, just how do you tackle making certain that you enroll in the right one? Especially since there are a number of variables to evaluate. For instance, some students will start by looking for schools that are nearby their residence. Once they have found some that are within commuting distance, they will pick the one with the least expensive tuition. Even though cost and location are important, they are not the only factors that should be examined. Also important are the accreditation and reputations of the schools, in addition to their job placement and graduation rates. These and additional qualifications should influence your ultimate decision when choosing a plumber training school. We will discuss that checklist in greater detail later in this post. But first, let's talk a little bit about becoming a plumber and the educational choices that are offered.

What is a Plumber?

Eagle River Alaska plumbing contractor 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 Plumbing Tech Schools

Eagle River Alaska plumbing contractor installing hot water heater

Now that you have made a decision to obtain a diploma, certificate or degree, you can start to narrow down your school options. Because there are so many plumbing tech and trade schools in the Eagle River AK area, it's important to have a checklist of qualifications that each school must satisfy. The first 2 that we talked about were location and tuition expense. And while both qualifiers may be crucial when making your determination, there are other variables that must be considered as well. Following is a checklist of those additional qualifications that you will need to assess prior to selecting a plumber trade school.

Is the Plumbing School Accredited?  A large number of plumbing trade programs have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They can attain Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, for example electrical technology. Make sure that the Eagle River AK program 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 receive an excellent education, it can help in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently unavailable for non-accredited schools. Furthermore, some states mandate that the plumbing training program be accredited for it to be approved for certification or licensing.

Is the Plumbing School Licensed?  Along with accreditation, an additional way of determining if a vocational school you’re reiewing is reputable is by making sure that it’s properly licensed.  Licensing is typically regulated and controlled 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 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 looking at what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students who enroll in and finish the program. A lower completion rate might signify that students were unhappy with the program and dropped out. It might also indicate that the instructors were not competent to instruct the students. It's similarly imperative that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive list of alumni, which can mean 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 assist students secure apprenticeships or employment in the Eagle River AK area.

Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored?  Many plumber training programs are taught in conjunction with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating technical and vocational programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of plumbing companies or labor unions. Check if the schools you are considering have working partnerships with local Eagle River AK plumbers or plumbing contractors. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by furnishing practical training, but it also furnishes job opportunities and helps to build relationships in the regional plumbing professional community.

Are there Modern Facilities?  Make sure that the school facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are state-of-the-art and what you will be using in the field. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the master plumber you are working with concerning what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Eagle River AK plumbing company if they can give you some tips.

Where is the School Located?  Unless you can relocate, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Eagle River AK residence. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there can be increased tuition charges compared to in-state residents.

Are there Smaller Classes?  It's important that you receive as much individualized training as possible, which can be difficult in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor a couple of the classes so that you can see how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between teachers and students. Speak with a few of the students and get their comments regarding class sizes and instruction. Last, speak to a few of the instructors and find out what their level of experience is in Eagle River AK and what certifications or degrees they hold.

Is the Class Schedule Convenient?  Verify that the class schedules for the schools 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, verify that the programs you are comparing provide those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family emergencies.

Find Out More About Eagle River Plumbing Training Schools

Pick the Best Eagle River Plumber Training School

Selecting the ideal plumbing trade school will probably be the most critical decision you will make to start your new career. As we have discussed in this article, there are many things that you will need to assess and compare between the schools you are considering. It's a must that any plumber training program that you are evaluating includes a good deal of hands-on training. Classes need to be smaller in size and every student must have their own equipment to train with. Classroom education should offer a real-world perspective, and the training program should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Programs differ in duration and the kind of credential offered, so you will have to determine what length of program and degree or certificate will best serve your needs. Each training program provides unique possibilities for certification also. Perhaps the best way to research your final list of schools is to check out each campus and speak with the teachers and students. Take the time to sit in on some classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the program you decide on is the right one for you. With the right training, hard work and dedication, you can become a professional plumber in Eagle River AK.