How to Select a Plumbing Trade School near Fairbanks Alaska
The initial step to becoming a plumbing tradesman or contractor is enrolling in a plumbing trade school near Fairbanks AK. But with numerous vocational schools to choose from, just how do you go about making sure that you enroll in the right one? Especially because there are a number of variables to consider. For instance, many students will commence by searching for schools that are close to their home. Once they have found a few that are within commuting range, they will choose the one with the lowest tuition. While cost and location are important, they are not the sole qualifications that should be considered. Also important are the accreditation and reputations of the schools, in addition to their job placement and graduation rates. These and other qualifiers should influence your final judgment when selecting a plumbing training school. We will cover that checklist in greater detail later in this post. But first, let’s review a little bit about becoming a plumber and the educational choices that are available.
Becoming 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 plumber in Fairbanks AK will typically advance through three phases during their professional career.
- Apprentice. The majority of 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 Programs
There are several options available 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 Fairbanks AK area 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 Alaska 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.
Topics to Ask Plumbing Trade Schools
Once you have decided to earn a diploma, certificate or degree, you can start to focus your school options. Considering that there are so many Alaska plumbing tech and trade schools in the Fairbanks AK area, it’s essential to have a checklist of criteria that each school must satisfy. The initial two that we discussed were location and tuition expense. And although both qualifiers may be important when making your determination, there are other variables that need to be considered also. Below is a checklist of those additional qualifications that you will need to research prior to selecting a plumber vocational school.
Is the Plumbing School Accredited? Numerous Fairbanks AK area plumbing technical programs 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 a specific program, such as plumbing technology. Make sure that the program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping guarantee that you get a superior education, it may assist in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable for non-accredited Alaska schools. Additionally, some states mandate that the plumbing training course be accredited in order to be approved for licensing or certification.
Is the Plumbing School Licensed? Along with accreditation, another way of determining if a trade school near Fairbanks AK you’re considering is reputable is by checking 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 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 Alaska 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 reviewing what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage or portion of students who enroll in and complete the course. A lower completion rate could indicate that students were disappointed with the program and dropped out. It might also mean that the instructors were not qualified to instruct 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 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 validate that the school has a good reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of Fairbanks AK area contacts to help grads acquire apprenticeships or jobs.
Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored? A large number of plumber training programs are taught along with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating Fairbanks AK area technical and vocational schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of plumbing contractors or labor unions. Ask if the schools you are considering have referring partnerships with local plumbers or plumbing companies. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by supplying practical training, but it also furnishes job opportunities and helps to form 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 working with in the field. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the master plumber you are working under regarding what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Fairbanks AK plumbing contractor if they can provide some tips.
Where is the School Located? Unless you are able to move, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Fairbanks AK residence. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there might be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Are there Smaller Classes? It’s desirable that you get as much one-on-one training as possible, which can be challenging in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor some of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and teachers. Speak with some of the students and get their comments concerning class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak to some of the teachers and find out what their level of expertise is in Alaska and what certifications or degrees they have earned.
Is the Class Schedule Convenient? Make sure 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 Fairbanks AK, verify that the programs you are looking at provide those options. Also, if you can only attend part-time, be sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Finally, check out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
Why Did You Decide to Be a Plumber?When preparing to interview for a Plumbing position, it's a good idea to consider questions you could be asked. Among the things that hiring managers frequently ask Plumbing applicants is "What made you decide on Plumbing as a career?". What the interviewer is trying to learn is not just the private reasons you might have for becoming a Plumbing Contractor, but also what attributes and skills you possess that make you outstanding at your profession. You will probably be asked questions pertaining specifically to Plumbing, as well as a significant number of typical interview questions, so you must ready some ideas about how you want to address them. Because there are numerous factors that go into selecting a career, you can answer this primary question in a multitude of ways. When formulating an answer, attempt to include the reasons the profession appeals to you in addition to the talents you possess that make you an exceptional Plumbing Contractor and the ideal choice for the job. Don't try to memorize a response, but take down several concepts and anecdotes that relate to your own experiences and strengths. Reading through sample responses can help you to prepare your own thoughts, and give you ideas of what to include to wow the interviewer.
Select the Ideal Plumber Trade School near Fairbanks AK
Selecting the best plumber training program will undoubtedly be the most critical decision you will make to launch your new career. As we have discussed in this article, there are a number of factors that you will need to examine and compare among the training programs you are looking at. It’s a prerequisite that any plumber training that you are evaluating includes a considerable amount of hands-on training. Classes should be smaller in size and every student must have their own equipment to train with. Classroom education needs to offer a real-world context, and the course of study should be current and in-line with industry standards. Programs vary in length and the kind of credential provided, so you will need to determine what length of program and degree or certificate will best satisfy your needs. Every training program offers different options for certification as well. Probably the best way to research your short list of schools is to check out each campus and speak with the students and instructors. Invest some time to sit in on a few classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the training program you choose is the right one for you. With the right training, effort and dedication, the final outcome will be a new trade as a professional plumber in Fairbanks AK.
Background on Fairbanks Alaska
Fairbanks is a home rule city and the borough seat of the Fairbanks North Star Borough in the U.S. state of Alaska.
Fairbanks is the largest city in the Interior region of Alaska. 2016 estimates put the population of the city proper at 32,751, and the population of the Fairbanks North Star Borough at 100,605, making it the second most populous metropolitan area in Alaska (after Anchorage). The Metropolitan Statistical Area encompasses all of the Fairbanks North Star Borough and is the northernmost Metropolitan Statistical Area in the United States, located 196 driving miles (or 140 air miles) south of the Arctic Circle. Fairbanks is home to the University of Alaska Fairbanks, the founding campus of the University of Alaska system.
Though there was never a permanent Alaska Native settlement at the site of Fairbanks, Athabascan peoples have used the area for thousands of years. An archaeological site excavated on the grounds of the University of Alaska Fairbanks uncovered a Native camp about 3,500 years old. From evidence gathered at the site, archaeologists surmise that Native activities in the area were limited to seasonal hunting and fishing. In addition, archeological sites on the grounds of nearby Fort Wainwright date back 10,000 years. Arrowheads excavated from the University of Alaska Fairbanks site matched similar items found in Asia, providing some of the first evidence that humans arrived in North America via the land bridge.
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