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How to Pick the Best Plumbing Course near Eagle River Alaska

Eagle River Alaska plumbing contractor installing sink faucetThe initial step to learning to be a plumbing contractor or tradesman is finding a plumbing trade school near Eagle River AK. But with so many vocational schools to select from, just how do you undertake making certain that you enroll in the right one? Particularly because there are a number of factors to evaluate. For example, many prospective students will begin by looking for schools that are close to their home. Once they have found several that are within commuting distance, they will decide on the one with the cheapest tuition. Although location and cost are important, they are not the only qualifications that must be considered. Also important are the accreditation and reputations of the schools, as well as their graduation and job placement rates. These and additional qualifiers should contribute toward 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 instructional options that are accessible.

What is a Plumber?

Eagle River Alaska plumber repairing sink 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 Certificate and Degree Programs

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.

Things to Ask Plumbing Training Schools

Eagle River Alaska plumbing contractor installing water heater

When you have decided to obtain a certificate, diploma or degree, you can start to focus your training options. Since there are so many plumbing vocational and trade schools in the Eagle River AK region, it's imperative to have a checklist of criteria that each program must satisfy. The first 2 that we discussed were location and the cost of tuition. And even though both qualifiers may be important when making your determination, there are additional factors that must be taken into account as well. Below is a checklist of those additional qualifications that you will need to analyze prior to enrolling in a plumber technical school.

Is the Plumbing School Accredited?  Many plumbing technical schools have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They may receive Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, for instance electrical technology. Make certain that the Eagle River AK program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping ensure that you obtain a quality education, it can assist in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited schools. Furthermore, some states mandate that the plumbing training course be accredited in order to be approved for licensing or certification.

Is the Plumbing School Licensed?  In addition to accreditation, another way of confirming that a trade school you’re reiewing is reputable is by checking that it’s properly licensed.  Licensing is usually 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 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 reviewing what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and finish the program. A low completion rate may indicate that students were disappointed with the program and quit. It may also signify that the teachers were not qualified to train 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 graduates, which may mean more contacts for the school to utilize for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only validate that the school has a good reputation within the trade, but additionally that it has the network of contacts to assist students obtain apprenticeships or employment in the Eagle River AK area.

Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored?  Numerous plumber training programs are taught together with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating trade and vocational schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of plumbing companies or labor unions. Check if the schools you are reviewing have working relationships with local Eagle River AK plumbers or plumbing companies. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by supplying practical training, but it also provides job opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the regional plumbing professional community.

Are there Modern Facilities?  Make certain that the campus facilities and the tools that you will be instructed on are up-to-date and what you will be using in the field. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the master plumber you are working under concerning what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Eagle River AK plumbing contractor if they can give you some suggestions.

Where is the School Located?  Unless you are willing to 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, besides the added moving costs there can be increased tuition charges compared to in-state residents.

Are there Smaller Classes?  It's important that you receive as much personalized instruction as possible, which can be difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on some of the classes so that you can see how big they are and experience the interaction between instructors and students. Talk to several of the students and get their comments relating to class sizes and instruction. Last, talk with some of the instructors 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?  Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are evaluating are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you are only able to go to classes at night or on weekends near Eagle River AK, confirm that the schools you are considering provide those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Finally, ask what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family emergencies.

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Choose the Best Eagle River Plumbing Trade School

Picking the best plumbing trade school will probably be the most critical decision you will make to start your new profession. As we have covered in this article, there are several factors that you will need to assess and compare among the schools you are considering. It's a must that any plumber training that you are considering includes a considerable amount of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be small in size and every student should have their personal equipment to train with. Classroom instruction should offer a real-world frame of reference, and the curriculum should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Programs vary in length and the type of credential provided, so you will need to ascertain what length of program and certificate or degree will best satisfy your needs. Every training program provides unique options for certification also. Probably the best way to research your short list of schools is to visit each campus and speak with the students and instructors. Invest some time to attend some classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the school you choose is the ideal one for you. With the right training, effort and commitment, you can become a professional plumber in Eagle River AK.