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How to Pick the Best Plumber School near Alabaster Alabama

Alabaster Alabama plumbing contractor replacing kitchen sink faucetThe first step to learning to be a plumbing tradesman or contractor is finding a plumbing trade school near Alabaster AL. But with numerous vocational schools to pick from, just how do you approach making certain that you enroll in the best one? Particularly because there are a number of factors to examine. For example, some students will commence by searching for schools that are nearby their residence. After they have found some that are within driving range, they will decide on the one with the most affordable tuition. While cost and location are of importance, they are not the only factors that must be considered. Also critical are the accreditation and reputations of the schools, in addition to their job placement and graduation rates. These and additional qualifications should influence your ultimate judgment when selecting a plumbing trade school. We will cover that checklist in more detail later in this post. But first, let's review a little bit about becoming a plumber and the educational choices that are offered.

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 Certificate and Degree Programs

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.

Points to Ask Plumber Tech Schools

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Once you have decided to obtain a certificate, diploma or degree, you can begin to refine your training options. Since there are numerous plumbing trade and vocational schools in the Alabaster AL area, it's important to have a checklist of qualifications that each program must meet. The first two 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 considered as well. Below is a checklist of those additional qualifications that you will need to research before selecting a plumber technical school.

Is the Plumbing School Accredited?  Numerous plumbing technical schools have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They can acquire Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, for instance electrical technology. Make sure that the Alabaster AL school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping guarantee that you receive a quality education, it can assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. Furthermore, a number of states mandate that the plumbing training program be accredited for it to qualify for licensing or certification.

Is the Plumbing School Licensed?  In addition to accreditation, another way of confirming that a trade school you’re reiewing is reputable is by making sure that it’s properly licensed.  Licensing is usually controlled and regulated by state agencies, such as the Alabama Department of Education.  If you’re not sure, ask the school which state agency is responsible for 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 schools you are looking at what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and finish the program. A low completion rate might indicate that students were unhappy with the program and quit. It may also suggest that the teachers were not competent to instruct the students. It's also important that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive directory of alumni, which can mean more contacts for the school to use for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only affirm that the school has a good reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of contacts to help grads acquire apprenticeships or employment in the Alabaster AL area.

Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored?  Numerous plumber technical 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 inside their network of plumbing contractors or trade unions. Ask if the schools you are considering have working relationships with local Alabaster AL plumbers or plumbing companies. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by supplying practical training, but it also provides employment opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the local plumbing professional community.

Are there Modern Facilities?  Confirm that the school facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are state-of-the-art and what you will be working with in the field. 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. Otherwise, ask a local Alabaster AL plumbing contracting company if they can give you some tips.

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

Are there Smaller Classes?  It's important that you get as much individualized instruction as possible, which can be difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor a couple of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and experience the interaction between instructors and students. Speak with several of the students and get their feedback relating to class sizes and instruction. Last, speak to 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?  Confirm that the class schedules for the schools you are evaluating are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you are only able to attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Alabaster AL, confirm that the programs you are looking at provide those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, be sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Finally, find out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family responsibilities.

Get More Info About Alabaster Plumbing Vocational Schools

Enroll in the Best Alabaster Plumbing Vocational School

Selecting the right plumbing training program will undoubtedly be the most important decision you will make to launch your new trade. As we have discussed in this article, there are a number of things that you will need to evaluate and compare between the training programs you are reviewing. It's a prerequisite that any plumber tech school that you are reviewing includes a considerable amount of hands-on training. Classes need to be small in size and every student should have their personal equipment to train with. Classroom instruction should provide a real-world perspective, and the curriculum should be current and in-line with industry standards. Programs vary in duration and the kind of credential provided, so you will need to determine what length of program and credential will best serve your needs. Each training program offers unique possibilities for certification also. Probably the best approach to research your final list of schools is to check out each campus and speak with the faculty and students. Invest some time to attend some classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the school you select is the best one for you. With the proper training, effort and commitment, you can become a professional plumber in Alabaster AL.