How to Select the Best Plumbing Course near Fairbanks Alaska
The initial step to becoming a plumbing contractor or tradesman is finding a plumbing trade school near Fairbanks AK. But with so many technical schools to pick from, just how do you go about making certain that you enroll in the best one? Especially because there are so many factors to consider. For example, some potential students will commence by searching for schools that are nearby their residence. After they have found several that are within driving distance, they will choose the one with the lowest tuition. While cost and location are important, they are not the sole qualifications that need to be evaluated. Also important are the accreditation and reputations of the schools, in addition to their job placement and graduation rates. These and other qualifications should help mold your ultimate judgment when selecting a plumbing trade school. We will cover that checklist in more detail later in this article. But to begin with, let's talk a little bit about becoming a plumber and the educational options that are available.
Becoming 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 Vocational Schools
Once you have decided to earn a certificate, diploma or degree, you can begin to focus your school options. Considering that there are so many plumbing trade and vocational 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 discussed were location and the cost of tuition. And while both qualifiers may be crucial when making your selection, there are additional factors that need to be considered also. Following is a checklist of those added qualifiers that you will need to analyze before enrolling in a plumber vocational school.
Is the Plumbing School Accredited? Numerous plumbing vocational programs have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They may receive Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, for example electrical technology. Confirm that the Fairbanks AK school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting agency, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping make certain that you acquire an excellent education, it may assist in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently unavailable for non-accredited programs. Additionally, some 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, 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 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 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 training programs 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 course. A low completion rate might suggest that students were unhappy with the program and quit. It may also mean that the instructors were not qualified to train the students. It's similarly imperative that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader directory of alumni, which may mean 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 a good reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of contacts to help graduates secure apprenticeships or employment in the Fairbanks AK area.
Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored? Many plumber vocational programs are taught together with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating vocational and trade programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of plumbing contractors or trade unions. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have referring relationships with local Fairbanks AK plumbers or plumbing specialists. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by providing hands-on training, but it also furnishes job opportunities and helps to establish 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 working with on the job. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the master plumber you are working with regarding what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Fairbanks AK plumbing contracting company if they can provide some pointers.
Where is the School Located? Unless you can relocate, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Fairbanks AK home. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there may be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Are there Smaller Classes? It's important that you get as much individualized instruction as possible, which can be challenging in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor some of the classes so that you can see how large they are and experience the interaction between instructors and students. Talk to some of the students and get their opinions 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 hold.
Is the Class Schedule Convenient? Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are reviewing are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Fairbanks AK, confirm that the programs you are comparing provide those options. If you can only attend part-time, be sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Also, check out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family issues.
Learn More About Fairbanks Plumber Vocational Schools
Pick the Right Fairbanks Plumbing Trade School
Picking the best plumbing trade school will probably be the most important decision you will make to start your new career. As we have covered in this article, there are a number of factors that you will need to assess and compare between the schools you are reviewing. It's a must that any plumber training that you are evaluating includes a good deal of hands-on instruction. Classes should be small in size and each student must have their personal equipment to train with. Classroom instruction should provide a real-world frame of reference, and the course of study should be current and conform with industry standards. Training programs differ in length and the type of credential provided, so you will need to ascertain what length of program and credential will best satisfy your needs. Every program provides unique possibilities for certification also. Probably the best way to research your final list of schools is to go to each campus and talk with the students and faculty. Take the time to attend a few classes. Tour 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 commitment, you can become a professional plumber in Fairbanks AK.