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How to Find the Right Plumbing School near Juneau Alaska

Juneau Alaska plumber installing sink faucetThe first step to becoming a plumbing contractor or tradesman is enrolling in a plumbing trade school near Juneau AK. But with so many technical schools to choose 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 instance, many potential students will start by searching for schools that are close to their home. When they have found a few that are within driving distance, they will decide on the one with the most affordable tuition. While cost and location are important, they are not the sole qualifications that need to be considered. Also important are the reputations of the schools, their accreditation, as well as their job placement and graduation rates. These and additional qualifications should help mold your ultimate decision when choosing a plumber training school. We will cover that checklist in greater detail later in this post. But to begin with, let's talk a little bit about becoming a plumber and the educational options that are accessible.

Becoming a Plumber

Juneau Alaska plumber 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.

Plumbing Degree and Certificate 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.

Points to Ask Plumbing Tech Schools

Juneau Alaska plumber repairing water heater

When you have decided to obtain a diploma, certificate or degree, you can begin to refine your training options. Considering that there are so many plumbing trade and vocational schools in the Juneau AK area, it's important to have a checklist of criteria that each program must satisfy. The first two that we talked about were location and tuition expense. And while both qualifiers may be critical when making your determination, there are additional factors that must be considered as well. Below is a checklist of those additional qualifiers that you will need to research before enrolling in a plumber trade school.

Is the Plumbing School Accredited?  A large number of plumbing technical schools have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They may earn Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, such as electrical technology. Make sure that the Juneau AK program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping ensure that you get a superior education, it may assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited schools. Furthermore, some states require that the plumbing training course be accredited in order to be approved for licensing or certification.

Is the Plumbing School Licensed?  In addition to accreditation, another way of determining if a vocational school you’re considering is reputable is by checking that it’s properly licensed.  Licensing is usually controlled and regulated 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 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 schools you are reviewing what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and complete the course. A low completion rate might indicate that students were dissatisfied with the program and dropped out. It could also indicate that the teachers were not competent to train the students. It's also essential that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader list of alumni, which can result in more contacts for the school to use for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only validate that the school has an excellent reputation within the trade, but additionally that it has the network of contacts to help graduates acquire apprenticeships or jobs in the Juneau AK area.

Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored?  A large number of plumber training programs are taught along with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating technical and vocational schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of plumbing companies or trade unions. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have referring partnerships with local Juneau AK plumbers or plumbing contractors. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by supplying hands-on training, but it also supplies job opportunities and helps to build relationships in the regional plumbing professional community.

Are there Modern Facilities?  Make certain that the school facilities and the tools that you will be trained on are state-of-the-art and what you will be using in the field. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the master plumber you are working under concerning what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Juneau AK plumbing company if they can provide some tips.

Where is the School Located?  Unless you can move, the school must be within driving distance of your Juneau AK residence. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added moving costs there can be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.

Are there Smaller Classes?  It's important that you get as much personalized training as possible, which can be challenging in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor a few of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and teachers. Speak with several of the students and get their feedback concerning class sizes and instruction. Last, speak to some of the instructors and learn what their level of experience is in Juneau AK and what certifications or degrees they have earned.

Is the Class Schedule Convenient?  Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are assessing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Juneau AK, confirm that the programs you are looking at offer those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Finally, find out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family issues.

Learn More About Juneau Plumber Training Schools

Choose the Right Juneau Plumbing Training School

Choosing the ideal plumbing trade school will undoubtedly be the most important decision you will make to launch your new profession. As we have addressed in this article, there are many things that you will need to assess and compare among the schools you are looking at. It's a necessity that any plumber tech school that you are evaluating includes a lot of hands-on training. Classes should be small in size and every student must have their own equipment to train with. Classroom instruction needs to offer a real-world context, and the curriculum should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Courses differ in duration and the type of credential offered, so you will need to decide what length of program and degree or certificate will best fulfill your needs. Every training program offers unique possibilities for certification also. Perhaps the best means to research your final list of schools is to go to each campus and speak with the students and instructors. Take the time to monitor some classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the school you decide on is the right one for you. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, you can become a professional plumber in Juneau AK.