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How to Find the Right Plumbing Training School near Fairbanks Alaska

Fairbanks Alaska plumbing contractor fixing sink faucetThe first step to learning to be a plumbing tradesman or contractor is enrolling in a plumbing trade school near Fairbanks AK. But with numerous vocational schools to choose from, just how do you tackle making sure that you enroll in the best one? Especially because there are a number of variables to consider. For example, some potential students will start by searching for schools that are nearby their home. After they have identified several that are within commuting range, they will pick the one with the lowest tuition. Even though cost and location are significant, they are not the sole qualifications that must be examined. Also important are the reputations of the schools, their accreditation, in addition to their job placement and graduation rates. These and additional qualifiers should contribute toward your final decision when picking a plumber training school. We will cover that checklist in greater detail later in this post. But first, let's talk a little bit about becoming a plumber and the educational options that are available.

Becoming a Plumber

Fairbanks Alaska plumber fixing 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 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 Programs

There 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.

Points to Ask Plumbing Training Schools

Fairbanks Alaska plumbing contractor installing water heater

Now that you have decided to obtain a diploma, certificate or degree, you can start to narrow down your school options. Since there are numerous plumbing vocational and trade schools in the Fairbanks AK region, it's important to have a checklist of criteria that each school must satisfy. The first 2 that we talked about were location and the cost of tuition. And even though both qualifiers may be important when making your decision, there are additional variables that must be considered also. Below is a checklist of those added qualifiers that you will need to analyze before choosing a plumber trade school.

Is the Plumbing School Accredited?  Many plumbing technical programs have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They may earn Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, for example electrical technology. Make certain that the Fairbanks AK program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting organization, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping guarantee that you get a quality education, it can assist in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are frequently unavailable for non-accredited programs. Additionally, a number of states require that the plumbing training program be accredited for it to qualify for licensing or certification.

Is the Plumbing School Licensed?  In addition to accreditation, another way of determining if a vocational school you’re considering is reputable is by checking that it’s properly licensed.  Licensing is typically controlled and regulated 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 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 training programs you are looking at what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage or portion of students who enroll in and complete the course. A low completion rate might suggest that students were dissatisfied with the course and quit. It may also indicate that the teachers were not qualified to train the students. It's also important that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive directory of alumni, which may mean more contacts for the school to use for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only validate that the school has a good reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of contacts to help students obtain apprenticeships or jobs in the Fairbanks AK area.

Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored?  A large number of plumber vocational programs are taught in conjunction with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating vocational and trade programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of plumbing contractors or trade unions. Check if the schools you are reviewing have referring partnerships with local Fairbanks AK plumbers or plumbing professionals. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by furnishing hands-on training, but it also supplies employment opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the local plumbing professional community.

Are there Modern Facilities?  Confirm that the campus facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are state-of-the-art and what you will be working with in the field. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the master plumber you are working under regarding what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Fairbanks AK plumbing contracting company if they can give you some suggestions.

Where is the School Located?  Unless you are able to move, the school must be within commuting distance of your Fairbanks AK residence. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there can be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.

Are there Smaller Classes?  It's desirable that you receive as much one-on-one training as possible, which can be difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor a few of the classes so that you can see how big they are and witness first hand the interaction between instructors and students. Talk to a few of the students and get their opinions concerning class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak with a few of the teachers and learn what their level of experience is in Fairbanks AK and what degrees or certifications they have earned.

Is the Class Schedule Convenient?  Make sure that the class schedules for the schools you are evaluating are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you are only able to attend classes at night or on weekends near Fairbanks AK, verify that the schools you are looking at offer those options. If you can only attend part-time, be sure that the school you select permits 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.

Learn More About Fairbanks Plumber Tech Schools

Choose the Right Fairbanks Plumbing Vocational School

Selecting the right plumbing trade school will undoubtedly be the most critical decision you will make to begin your new profession. As we have addressed in this article, there are many factors that you will need to examine and compare among the schools you are reviewing. It's a necessity that any plumbing training program that you are considering includes a good deal of hands-on training. Classes need to be small in size and every student should have their own equipment to train with. Classroom education should provide a real-world frame of reference, and the course of study should be current and conform with industry standards. Programs vary in duration and the type of credential offered, so you will need to ascertain what length of program and degree or certificate will best satisfy your needs. Every program offers unique possibilities for certification also. Probably The ideal approach to research your final list of schools is to visit each campus and speak with the faculty and students. Invest some time to monitor some classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the school you choose is the right one for you. With the right training, effort and dedication, you can become a professional plumber in Fairbanks AK.