How to Pick the Best Plumber Trade School near Fairbanks Alaska
The first step to learning to be a plumbing tradesman or contractor is finding a plumbing trade school near Fairbanks AK. But with numerous vocational schools to select from, just how do you tackle making sure that you enroll in the right one? Particularly because there are so many factors to evaluate. For example, some students will commence by looking for schools that are close to their home. After they have located a few that are within commuting distance, they will choose the one with the most affordable tuition. While cost and location are of importance, they are not the sole factors that should be considered. Also important are the reputations of the schools, their accreditation, as well as their graduation and job placement rates. These and additional qualifications should contribute toward your final judgment when choosing a plumber training school. We will address that checklist in more detail later in this article. But to begin with, let's review a little bit about becoming a plumber and the training choices that are accessible.
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.
Plumbing Certificate and Degree 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 Tech Schools
When you have made a decision to obtain a certificate, diploma or degree, you can start to refine your training options. Because there are so many plumbing tech and trade schools in the Fairbanks AK region, it's essential to have a checklist of qualifications that each program must satisfy. The first two that we mentioned were location and tuition expense. And while both qualifiers may be important when making your determination, there are other variables that need to be taken into account also. Below is a checklist of those additional qualifications that you will need to assess prior to selecting a plumber technical school.
Is the Plumbing School Accredited? Many plumbing technical schools have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They may attain Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, for instance electrical technology. Make sure that the Fairbanks AK school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping guarantee that you get an excellent education, it can assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited schools. Also, many states require that the plumbing training program be accredited for it 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 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 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 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 finish the program. A lower completion rate could indicate that students were disappointed with the course and dropped out. It may also mean that the teachers were not competent to train the students. It's similarly important that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive list of alumni, 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 validate 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 Fairbanks AK area.
Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored? A large number of plumber technical programs are taught together with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating vocational and trade schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of plumbing companies or trade unions. Find out if the schools you are considering have working partnerships with local Fairbanks AK plumbers or plumbing professionals. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by providing hands-on training, but it also furnishes job opportunities and helps to form relationships in the area plumbing professional community.
Are there Modern Facilities? Make certain that the campus facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are state-of-the-art and what you will be using on the job. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the master plumber you are working with regarding what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Fairbanks AK plumbing contractor if they can provide some tips.
Where is the School Located? Unless you can relocate, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Fairbanks AK residence. Take note that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides the added moving costs there might be higher 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 challenging in larger 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 instructors and students. Speak to a few of the students and get their feedback relating to class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk with some of the instructors and learn what their level of experience is in Fairbanks AK and what certifications or degrees they have earned.
Is the Class Schedule Convenient? Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are evaluating are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you are only able to go to classes at night or on weekends near Fairbanks AK, check that the schools you are considering offer those options. If you can only attend part-time, be sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Finally, check out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family responsibilities.
Choose the Best Fairbanks Plumbing Training School
Selecting the right plumber training program will probably be the most critical decision you will make to begin your new profession. As we have covered in this article, there are a number of things that you will need to examine and compare between the training programs you are considering. It's a prerequisite that any plumber training program that you are assessing includes a lot of hands-on training. Classes need to be small in size and each student should have their personal equipment to train with. Classroom education needs to provide a real-world frame of reference, and the course of study should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Training programs vary in duration and the kind of credential provided, so you will need to determine what length of program and credential will best serve your needs. Every training program provides different possibilities for certification also. Probably The ideal approach to research your short list of schools is to go to each campus and talk with the students and instructors. Invest some time to monitor some classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the school you pick is the right one for you. With the right training, hard work and dedication, you can become a professional plumber in Fairbanks AK.