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How to Enroll in the Best Plumbing Course near Juneau Alaska

Juneau Alaska plumber replacing kitchen sink faucetThe first step to becoming a plumbing contractor or tradesman is finding a plumbing trade school near Juneau AK. But with so many technical schools to select from, just how do you tackle making certain that you enroll in the right one? Especially because there are so many factors to evaluate. For instance, many potential students will commence by looking for schools that are nearby their residence. When they have found some that are within commuting range, they will choose the one with the cheapest tuition. While location and cost are of importance, they are not the sole factors that need to be examined. Also important are the reputations of the schools, their accreditation, in addition to their graduation and job placement rates. These and additional qualifiers should contribute toward your ultimate judgment when choosing a plumbing trade school. We will address that checklist in more detail later in this post. But to begin with, let's review a little bit about becoming a plumber and the training options that are offered.

Becoming a Plumber

Juneau Alaska plumbing contractor repairing 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 Juneau AK plumber will typically advance through three phases during their professional career.

  • Apprentice. The majority of Juneau 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 Juneau AK is to enroll in a plumbing technology program that will provide the comprehensive quality training needed to embark on this challenging career.

Plumber Certificate and Degree Options

There are several educational options available near Juneau 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.

Questions to Ask Plumbing Vocational Schools

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Once you have made a decision to earn a diploma, certificate or degree, you can start to narrow down your training options. Since there are numerous plumbing tech and trade schools in the Juneau AK area, it's essential to have a checklist of criteria that each program must meet. The first 2 that we talked about were location and the cost of tuition. And even though both qualifiers may be crucial when making your determination, there are other variables that must be taken into account also. Below is a checklist of those added qualifiers that you will need to analyze before choosing a plumber technical school.

Is the Plumbing School Accredited?  Many plumbing technical schools have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They can attain Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, for example electrical technology. Make certain that the Juneau AK program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping ensure that you obtain an excellent education, it may help in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently unavailable for non-accredited schools. Additionally, a number of states require that the plumbing training program be accredited in order to qualify for licensing or certification.

Is the Plumbing School Licensed?  Along with accreditation, another way of confirming that a trade school you’re considering is reputable is by making sure that it’s properly licensed.  Licensing is typically controlled and regulated 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 Juneau 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 considering 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 may suggest that students were unhappy with the program and dropped out. It may also mean that the teachers were not competent to train the students. It's also imperative that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive list of graduates, which may result in more contacts for the school to employ for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only affirm that the school has a good reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of contacts to assist students secure apprenticeships or jobs in the Juneau AK area.

Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored?  Numerous plumber vocational programs are taught together with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating vocational and technical schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of plumbing contractors or labor unions. Find out if the schools you are considering have referring relationships with local Juneau AK plumbers or plumbing specialists. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by supplying practical training, but it also provides job opportunities and helps to build relationships in the regional plumbing professional community.

Are there Modern Facilities?  Confirm that the campus facilities and the tools that you will be instructed on are up-to-date and what you will be using in the field. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the master plumber you are working with regarding what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Juneau AK plumbing contracting company if they can provide some pointers.

Where is the School Located?  Unless you are able to move, the school must be within commuting distance of your Juneau AK home. Take note that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides the added moving costs there might be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.

Are there Smaller Classes?  It's important that you receive as much one-on-one training as possible, which can be challenging in bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a few of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and experience the interaction between students and teachers. Talk with a few of the students and get their comments concerning class sizes and instruction. Last, speak to a few of the teachers and learn what their level of experience is in Juneau AK and what degrees or certifications they hold.

Is the Class Schedule Convenient?  Confirm that the class schedules for the schools you are assessing are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Juneau AK, verify that the schools you are reviewing provide those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Finally, ask what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family emergencies.

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Enroll in the Right Juneau Plumbing Vocational School

Choosing the best plumber trade school will undoubtedly be the most critical decision you will make to begin your new trade. As we have addressed in this article, there are a number of things that you will need to examine and compare between the training programs you are reviewing. It's a necessity that any plumbing tech school that you are examining includes a lot of hands-on instruction. Classes should be small in size and every student must have their own equipment to train with. Classroom teaching needs to offer a real-world perspective, and the course of study should be current and in-line with industry standards. Training programs differ in length and the type of credential offered, so you will need to ascertain what length of program and credential will best serve your needs. Every program offers different possibilities for certification as well. Probably the best means to research your final list of schools is to visit each campus and speak with the faculty and students. Invest some time to sit in on some classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the school you select is the best one for you. With the right training, hard work and commitment, you can become a professional plumber in Juneau AK.