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How to Find the Right Plumber School near Juneau Alaska

Juneau Alaska plumbing contractor installing sink faucetThe first step to learning to be a plumbing contractor or tradesman is locating a plumbing trade school near Juneau 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? Especially because there are so many variables to evaluate. For instance, many students will start by searching for schools that are nearby their residence. Once they have located some that are within driving distance, they will decide on the one with the least expensive tuition. Although cost and location are important, they are not the only qualifications that should be evaluated. Also important are the accreditation and reputations of the schools, in addition to their graduation and job placement rates. These and additional qualifiers should influence your ultimate decision when choosing a plumber training school. We will discuss 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.

What is a Plumber?

Juneau Alaska plumbing contractor adjusting 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 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.

What to Ask Plumber Trade Schools

Juneau Alaska plumber installing water heater

When you have made a decision to earn a certificate, diploma or degree, you can start to refine your training options. Considering that there are numerous plumbing trade and vocational schools in the Juneau AK area, it's imperative to have a checklist of qualifications that each program must meet. The initial two that we discussed were location and the cost of tuition. And while both qualifiers may be important when making your determination, there are additional variables that must be considered as well. Following is a checklist of those additional qualifications that you will need to assess prior to enrolling in a plumber vocational school.

Is the Plumbing School Accredited?  A large number of plumbing trade schools have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They can receive Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, for instance electrical technology. Make certain that the Juneau AK school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting organization, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping ensure that you obtain a quality education, it can help in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases not available for non-accredited programs. Also, some states require that the plumbing training program be accredited in order 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 reiewing is reputable is by checking that it’s properly licensed.  Licensing is usually regulated and controlled by state agencies, such as the Alaska Department of Education.  If you’re not sure, 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 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 portion or percentage of students who enroll in and finish the program. A lower completion rate might suggest that students were unhappy with the program and dropped out. It could also mean that the instructors were not competent to instruct the students. It's similarly essential that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive directory of graduates, which can mean more contacts for the school to employ 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 also that it has the network of contacts to help grads secure apprenticeships or employment in the Juneau AK area.

Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored?  A large number of plumber vocational programs are taught along with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating trade and technical schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of plumbing contractors or trade unions. Ask if the schools you are comparing have working partnerships with local Juneau AK plumbers or plumbing specialists. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by furnishing practical training, but it also supplies employment opportunities and helps to build relationships in the area plumbing professional community.

Are there Modern Facilities?  Confirm that the campus facilities and the tools that you will be trained on are state-of-the-art and what you will be using on the job. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to 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 can move, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Juneau AK home. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there can be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.

Are there Smaller Classes?  It's desirable that you get as much one-on-one instruction as possible, which can be challenging in larger 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 teachers and students. Speak with a few of the students and get their feedback concerning class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk 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 fulfill your needs. If you are only able to attend classes at night or on weekends near Juneau AK, verify that the schools you are reviewing provide those options. If you can only attend part-time, be sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Additionally, find out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family emergencies.

Find Out More About Juneau Plumber Tech Schools

Choose the Best Juneau Plumbing Vocational School

Picking the ideal plumbing training program will probably be the most critical decision you will make to start your new career. As we have addressed in this article, there are many things that you will need to evaluate and compare between the training programs you are considering. It's a must that any plumber tech school that you are evaluating includes a lot of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be smaller in size and each student should have their own equipment to train with. Classroom instruction needs to offer a real-world context, and the training program should be current and in-line with industry standards. Programs differ in duration and the kind of credential offered, so you will have to ascertain what length of program and certificate or degree will best serve your needs. Every training program offers different options for certification also. Perhaps the best means to research your short list of schools is to go to each campus and talk with the students and faculty. Take the time to attend some classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the school you select is the ideal one for you. With the proper training, effort and dedication, you can become a professional plumber in Juneau AK.