How to Pick the Right Plumber Technical School near Fairbanks Alaska
The first step to becoming a plumbing tradesman or contractor is finding a plumbing trade school near Fairbanks AK. But with so many vocational schools to choose from, just how do you go about making sure that you enroll in the right one? Particularly because there are a number of factors to consider. For example, some potential students will commence by looking for schools that are close to their residence. Once they have located several that are within commuting distance, they will pick the one with the cheapest tuition. While location and cost are significant, they are not the sole factors that need to be examined. Also important are the accreditation and reputations of the schools, along with their job placement and graduation rates. These and additional qualifications should help mold your final decision when choosing a plumber trade school. We will discuss 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 instructional options 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.
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.
What to Ask Plumber Technical Schools
When you have made a decision to earn a diploma, certificate or degree, you can start to narrow down your school options. Since there are so many plumbing tech and trade schools in the Fairbanks AK region, it's important to have a checklist of qualifications that each school must satisfy. The first two that we mentioned were location and the cost of tuition. And although both qualifiers may be critical when making your selection, there are other factors that need to be considered also. Following is a checklist of those additional qualifications that you will need to analyze before choosing a plumber tech school.
Is the Plumbing School Accredited? A large number of plumbing vocational programs have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They may attain Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, for instance electrical technology. Verify that the Fairbanks AK program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping make certain that you obtain an excellent education, it can assist in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases not available for non-accredited schools. Additionally, some states require that the plumbing training program be accredited for it to be approved for certification or licensing.
Is the Plumbing School Licensed? Along with accreditation, an additional way of confirming that a vocational 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 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 considering what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage or portion of students who enroll in and complete the program. A low completion rate might indicate that students were dissatisfied with the program and quit. It may also indicate that the teachers were not qualified to instruct the students. It's also essential that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader directory of graduates, which may produce more contacts for the school to use for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only confirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the trade, but additionally that it has the network of contacts to assist graduates acquire apprenticeships or jobs in the Fairbanks AK area.
Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored? Most plumber trade programs are taught in conjunction with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating trade and vocational schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of plumbing businesses or labor unions. Find out 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 hands-on training, but it also supplies employment opportunities and helps to build relationships in the area plumbing professional community.
Are there Modern Facilities? Make certain that the campus facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are state-of-the-art and what you will be using on the job. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the master plumber you are working under concerning what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Fairbanks AK plumbing contractor if they can provide some pointers.
Where is the School Located? Unless you are willing to relocate, 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 relocation costs there can be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Are there Smaller Classes? It's important that you receive as much individualized training as possible, which can be difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a few of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and instructors. Speak with a few of the students and get their opinions concerning class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak to some of the instructors and find out what their level of experience is in Fairbanks AK and what certifications or degrees they hold.
Is the Class Schedule Convenient? Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are assessing are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you are only able to go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Fairbanks AK, verify that the programs you are looking at offer those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Finally, ask what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family responsibilities.
Pick the Best Fairbanks Plumbing Trade School
Picking the right plumbing trade school will undoubtedly be the most critical decision you will make to begin your new trade. As we have discussed in this article, there are a number of factors that you will need to examine and compare between the schools you are reviewing. It's a must that any plumber training program that you are assessing includes a considerable amount of hands-on training. Classes need to be smaller in size and every student must have their own equipment to train with. Classroom instruction needs to provide a real-world perspective, and the training program should be current and conform with industry standards. Programs differ in length and the type of credential provided, so you will need to determine what length of program and certificate or degree will best serve your needs. Every training program offers unique options for certification as well. Probably The ideal approach to research your final list of schools is to visit each campus and speak with the teachers and students. Invest some time to attend a few classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the school you pick is the ideal one for you. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, you can become a professional plumber in Fairbanks AK.