How to Choose the Right Plumber Course near Fairbanks Alaska
The first step to learning to be a plumbing contractor or tradesman is finding a plumbing trade school near Fairbanks AK. But with so many technical schools to select from, just how do you approach making sure that you enroll in the right one? Particularly since there are so many points to examine. For example, some potential students will start by looking for schools that are close to their residence. After they have found several that are within driving distance, they will decide on the one with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are of importance, they are not the sole qualifications that must be considered. Also critical are the accreditation and reputations of the schools, as well as their graduation and job placement rates. These and other qualifications should help mold your final judgment when selecting 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 training choices that are offered.
What is a Plumber?
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 Fairbanks AK plumber will typically advance through three phases during their professional career.
- Apprentice. The majority of Fairbanks 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 Fairbanks 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 OptionsThere are several educational options available near Fairbanks 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
Now that you have made a decision to obtain a certificate, diploma or degree, you can start to refine your training options. Considering that there are so many plumbing tech and trade schools in the Fairbanks AK region, it's imperative to have a checklist of criteria that each program must meet. The initial 2 that we mentioned were location and tuition expense. And although both qualifiers may be crucial when making your selection, there are additional variables that need to be taken into account as well. Below is a checklist of those additional qualifications that you will need to research before enrolling in a plumber vocational school.
Is the Plumbing School Accredited? A large number of plumbing technical programs have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They can earn Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, for example electrical technology. Make sure that the Fairbanks AK school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping make certain that you receive a superior education, it can assist in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently unavailable for non-accredited schools. Additionally, many states mandate that the plumbing training course be accredited in order to qualify for certification or licensing.
Is the Plumbing School Licensed? In addition to accreditation, another way of determining if a trade school you’re considering is reputable is by making sure that it’s properly licensed. Licensing is usually regulated and controlled by state agencies, such as the Alaska Department of Education. If you don’t know, ask the school which state agency regulates 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 Fairbanks 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 complete the program. A low completion rate might indicate that students were disappointed with the course and quit. It might also signify that the teachers were not competent to train the students. It's similarly important that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader 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 can not only affirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of contacts to assist graduates acquire apprenticeships or jobs in the Fairbanks AK area.
Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored? Numerous plumber technical 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 businesses or trade unions. Check if the schools you are reviewing have working relationships with local Fairbanks AK plumbers or plumbing contractors. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by providing practical training, but it also furnishes employment opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the local plumbing professional community.
Are there Modern Facilities? Make certain that the school facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are up-to-date and what you will be using in the field. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the master plumber you are working under regarding what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Fairbanks AK plumbing company if they can provide some pointers.
Where is the School Located? Unless you are able to move, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Fairbanks AK home. Remember that if you decide to attend 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 desirable that you get as much personalized training as possible, which can be challenging in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor a couple of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and teachers. Speak to several of the students and get their opinions regarding class sizes and instruction. Last, talk with a few of the instructors and find out what their level of experience is in Fairbanks AK and what degrees or certifications they have earned.
Is the Class Schedule Convenient? Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are evaluating are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Fairbanks AK, verify that the schools you are reviewing offer those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, be sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Finally, 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 Fairbanks Plumber Trade Schools
Enroll in the Best Fairbanks Plumber Vocational School
Selecting the ideal plumber training program will undoubtedly be the most critical decision you will make to begin your new career. As we have covered in this article, there are several things that you will need to examine and compare between the schools you are considering. It's a must that any plumbing training program that you are considering includes a considerable amount of hands-on training. Classes need to be smaller in size and every student should have their personal equipment to train with. Classroom teaching should provide a real-world context, and the course of study should be current and in-line with industry standards. Courses vary in length and the kind of credential provided, so you will need to decide what length of program and degree or certificate will best serve your needs. Each training program provides different options for certification as well. Perhaps the best approach to research your short list of schools is to go to each campus and talk with the students and faculty. Take the time to monitor a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the training program you choose is the best one for you. With the right training, hard work and dedication, you can become a professional plumber in Fairbanks AK.