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How to Select the Best Plumbing Training School near Fairbanks Alaska

Fairbanks Alaska plumber fixing kitchen sink faucetThe initial step to learning to be a plumbing tradesman or contractor is finding a plumbing trade school near Fairbanks AK. But with so many technical schools to choose from, just how do you approach making sure that you enroll in the best one? Particularly since there are a number of variables to consider. For instance, some prospective students will start by searching for schools that are nearby their residence. When they have found a few that are within driving distance, they will select the one with the least expensive tuition. Even though location and cost are of importance, they are not the only things that should be evaluated. Also critical are the reputations of the schools, their accreditation, in addition to their job placement and graduation rates. These and other qualifications should help mold your final decision when picking a plumber training school. We will cover that checklist in greater detail later in this article. But first, let's review a little bit about becoming a plumber and the educational options that are available.

What is a Plumber?

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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 Degree and Certificate 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.

Things to Ask Plumber Trade Schools

Fairbanks Alaska plumber replacing hot water heater

When you have made a decision to earn a certificate, diploma or degree, you can begin to focus your school options. Since there are so many plumbing trade and vocational schools in the Fairbanks AK region, it's essential to have a checklist of criteria that each school must meet. The initial 2 that we talked about were location and tuition expense. And while both qualifiers may be important when making your decision, there are additional variables that need to be taken into account as well. Following is a checklist of those added qualifications that you will need to analyze before choosing a plumber technical school.

Is the Plumbing School Accredited?  Numerous plumbing vocational programs have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They may earn Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, for instance electrical technology. Verify that the Fairbanks 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 make certain that you obtain a superior education, it can assist in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable for non-accredited programs. Also, some states mandate that the plumbing training course be accredited for it to qualify for licensing or certification.

Is the Plumbing School Licensed?  Along with accreditation, an additional way of confirming that a trade school you’re considering is reputable is by making sure that it’s properly licensed.  Licensing is typically regulated and controlled by state agencies, such as the Alaska Department of Education.  If you’re not sure, ask the school which state agency is responsible for 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 percentage of students who enroll in and finish the program. A low completion rate could signify that students were disappointed with the course and quit. It may also mean that the teachers were not qualified to instruct the students. It's also important that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive list of graduates, which may produce more contacts for the school to utilize for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only affirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of contacts to help grads acquire apprenticeships or jobs in the Fairbanks AK area.

Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored?  A large number of plumber trade programs are taught along with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating vocational and technical programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of plumbing businesses or trade unions. Check if the schools you are considering have working partnerships with local Fairbanks AK plumbers or plumbing contractors. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by providing practical training, but it also provides employment opportunities and helps to form relationships in the area 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 working with on the job. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the master plumber you are working with concerning what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Fairbanks AK plumbing contracting company if they can provide some pointers.

Where is the School Located?  Unless you are willing to relocate, the school must be within driving distance of your Fairbanks AK home. Take note that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there may be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.

Are there Smaller Classes?  It's important that you receive as much individualized instruction as possible, which can be challenging in bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a couple of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and instructors. Speak with several of the students and get their opinions concerning class sizes and instruction. Last, talk to some of the instructors 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 programs you are reviewing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Fairbanks AK, check that the schools you are looking at provide those options. If you can only attend part-time, be sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Finally, check out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family responsibilities.

Learn More About Fairbanks Plumbing Tech Schools

Pick the Best Fairbanks Plumber Training School

Selecting the ideal plumbing training program will probably be the most critical decision you will make to begin your new profession. As we have discussed in this article, there are many factors that you will need to evaluate and compare among the schools you are considering. It's a must that any plumber tech school that you are examining includes a good deal of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be smaller in size and each student must have their personal equipment to train with. Classroom teaching needs to provide a real-world frame of reference, and the course of study should be current and conform with industry standards. Courses vary in duration and the kind of credential offered, so you will need to determine what length of program and credential will best fulfill your needs. Each training program provides different possibilities for certification also. Perhaps The ideal means to research your short list of schools is to check out each campus and speak with the students and instructors. Take the time to attend some classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the school you select is the ideal one for you. With the right training, hard work and commitment, you can become a professional plumber in Fairbanks AK.