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How to Enroll in the Right Plumbing Tech School near Fairbanks Alaska

Fairbanks Alaska plumbing contractor repairing sink faucetThe first step to learning to be a plumbing contractor or tradesman is locating a plumbing trade school near Fairbanks AK. But with numerous vocational schools to pick from, just how do you undertake making certain that you enroll in the right one? Especially because there are a number of factors to examine. For example, many students will begin by looking for schools that are nearby their residence. When they have located several that are within driving distance, they will select the one with the most affordable tuition. Even though cost and location are important, they are not the sole qualifications that should be considered. Also critical are the reputations of the schools, their accreditation, in addition to their job placement and graduation rates. These and additional qualifications should help mold your final judgment when selecting a plumbing trade 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 instructional options that are offered.

Becoming a Plumber

Fairbanks Alaska plumber fixing sink 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 Degree and Certificate Options

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 Vocational Schools

Fairbanks Alaska plumbing contractor repairing water heater

Now that you have made a decision to obtain a diploma, certificate or degree, you can start to refine your school options. Because there are numerous plumbing tech and trade schools in the Fairbanks AK area, it's imperative to have a checklist of criteria that each school must satisfy. The first two that we discussed were location and tuition expense. And although both qualifiers may be important when making your decision, there are additional variables that must be considered also. Following is a checklist of those additional qualifiers that you will need to analyze before selecting a plumber vocational school.

Is the Plumbing School Accredited?  A large number of plumbing technical programs have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They can attain Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, for example electrical technology. Make certain that the Fairbanks AK program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping make certain that you obtain a superior education, it can help in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are often unavailable for non-accredited programs. Also, some states mandate that the plumbing training program be accredited in order to be approved for licensing or certification.

Is the Plumbing School Licensed?  In addition to accreditation, an additional way of confirming that 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 schools you are considering what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and complete the course. A lower completion rate could suggest that students were disappointed with the program and dropped out. It may also suggest that the instructors were not qualified 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 directory of alumni, which can result in more contacts for the school to utilize for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only affirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of contacts to assist grads acquire apprenticeships or jobs in the Fairbanks AK area.

Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored?  A large number of plumber technical programs are taught together with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating trade and vocational schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within 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 professionals. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by supplying hands-on training, but it also furnishes employment opportunities and helps to form relationships in the local 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 currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the master plumber you are working with regarding what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Fairbanks AK plumbing contracting company if they can give you some pointers.

Where is the School Located?  Unless you can relocate, the school must 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 increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.

Are there Smaller Classes?  It's desirable that you receive as much personalized instruction as possible, which can be challenging in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor some of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and teachers. Speak to some of the students and get their opinions concerning class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak to a few of the teachers and learn what their level of experience is in Fairbanks AK and what certifications or degrees they hold.

Is the Class Schedule Convenient?  Make sure that the class schedules for the schools you are reviewing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Fairbanks AK, check that the schools you are comparing offer those options. If you can only attend part-time, be sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family emergencies.

Find Out More About Fairbanks Plumbing Tech Schools

Enroll in the Best Fairbanks Plumbing Trade School

Selecting the best plumber trade school will undoubtedly be the most critical decision you will make to start your new trade. As we have covered in this article, there are several factors that you will need to evaluate and compare between the schools you are considering. It's a necessity that any plumbing tech school that you are evaluating includes a good deal of hands-on training. Classes should be small in size and every student should have their personal equipment to train with. Classroom education needs to offer a real-world context, and the training program should be current and in-line with industry standards. Courses differ in duration and the type of credential provided, so you will need to decide what length of program and certificate or degree will best fulfill your needs. Every training program provides unique options for certification as well. Perhaps the best way to research your short list of schools is to visit each campus and talk with the teachers and students. Invest some time to sit in on some classes. Inspect 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.