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How to Pick the Right Plumbing School near Alabaster Alabama

Alabaster Alabama plumber repairing kitchen sink faucetThe first step to learning to be a plumbing contractor or tradesman is finding a plumbing trade school near Alabaster AL. But with numerous technical schools to select from, just how do you go about making certain that you enroll in the right one? Especially since there are a number of points to consider. For instance, many students will begin by looking for schools that are nearby their home. Once they have found a few that are within commuting distance, they will pick the one with the lowest tuition. Even though location and cost are significant, they are not the sole qualifications that must be evaluated. Also important are the reputations of the schools, their accreditation, along with their job placement and graduation rates. These and additional qualifiers should help mold your ultimate decision when picking a plumber training school. We will cover 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 choices that are available.

Becoming a Plumber

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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 Alabaster AL plumber will typically advance through three phases during their professional career.

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

Plumber Degree and Certificate Options

There are several educational options available near Alabaster AL 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.

Topics to Ask Plumbing Tech Schools

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When you have made a decision to earn a certificate, diploma or degree, you can start to narrow down your training options. Because there are numerous plumbing trade and vocational schools in the Alabaster AL region, it's essential to have a checklist of criteria that each program must satisfy. The first 2 that we discussed were location and the cost of tuition. And even though both qualifiers may be important when making your selection, there are additional variables that need to be considered as well. Following is a checklist of those added qualifications that you will need to assess before choosing a plumber trade school.

Is the Plumbing School Accredited?  Numerous plumbing vocational programs 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 an individual program, for example electrical technology. Make certain that the Alabaster AL program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping make certain that you acquire an excellent education, it may assist in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. Also, some states require that the plumbing training program be accredited in order to qualify for licensing or certification.

Is the Plumbing School Licensed?  In addition to accreditation, an additional way of determining if a vocational school you’re considering is reputable is by checking that it’s properly licensed.  Licensing is usually regulated and controlled by state agencies, such as the Alabama 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 Alabaster AL 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 program. A low completion rate might indicate that students were unhappy with the program and quit. It may also mean that the instructors were not competent to train the students. It's similarly imperative that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive list of graduates, which can mean more contacts for the school to utilize for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only confirm that the school has a good reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of contacts to help graduates secure apprenticeships or employment in the Alabaster AL area.

Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored?  A large number of plumber technical programs are taught in conjunction with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating vocational and technical programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of plumbing companies or trade unions. Ask if the schools you are considering have referring relationships with local Alabaster AL plumbers or plumbing specialists. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by providing hands-on training, but it also provides job opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the local plumbing professional community.

Are there Modern Facilities?  Confirm that the campus facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are up-to-date and what you will be working with in the field. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the master plumber you are working with concerning what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Alabaster AL plumbing contractor if they can provide some suggestions.

Where is the School Located?  Unless you are able to relocate, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Alabaster AL home. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there might be increased tuition charges compared to in-state residents.

Are there Smaller Classes?  It's important that you get as much personalized instruction as possible, which can be difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor some of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and experience the interaction between students and instructors. Talk with some of the students and get their opinions relating to class sizes and instruction. Last, speak with a few of the teachers and learn what their level of experience is in Alabaster AL and what certifications or degrees they hold.

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 go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Alabaster AL, check that the schools you are looking at offer those options. If you can only attend part-time, be sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family responsibilities.

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Pick the Best Alabaster Plumbing Vocational School

Selecting the best plumber trade school will probably be the most critical decision you will make to start your new profession. As we have covered in this article, there are many factors that you will need to assess and compare among the training programs you are reviewing. It's a necessity that any plumbing training that you are evaluating includes a good deal of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be smaller in size and every student should have their own equipment to train with. Classroom instruction should offer a real-world perspective, and the curriculum should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Programs vary in length and the kind of credential offered, so you will need to determine what length of program and credential will best serve your needs. Every program provides unique possibilities for certification as well. Probably the best means to research your short list of schools is to check out each campus and speak with the faculty and students. Invest some time to attend a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the school you pick is the ideal one for you. With the proper training, effort and dedication, you can become a professional plumber in Alabaster AL.