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How to Pick the Right Plumbing Trade School near Alabaster Alabama

Alabaster Alabama plumber replacing kitchen faucetThe initial step to becoming a plumbing tradesman or contractor is finding a plumbing trade school near Alabaster AL. But with so many technical schools to pick from, just how do you tackle making certain that you enroll in the ideal one? Especially since there are so many factors to examine. For instance, some potential students will begin by looking for schools that are close to their residence. When they have identified several that are within commuting distance, they will decide on the one with the cheapest tuition. While location and cost are important, they are not the sole things that should be evaluated. Also critical are the reputations of the schools, their accreditation, in addition to their graduation and job placement rates. These and additional qualifiers should influence your final 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 training choices that are available.

What is 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.

Plumbing Certificate and Degree 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.

What to Ask Plumber Training Schools

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When you have made a decision to obtain a diploma, certificate or degree, you can begin to focus your school options. Considering that there are so many plumbing tech and trade schools in the Alabaster AL region, it's essential to have a checklist of criteria that each program must satisfy. The initial two that we mentioned were location and the cost of tuition. And although both qualifiers may be critical when making your selection, there are other variables that need to be considered also. Below is a checklist of those additional qualifiers that you will need to assess prior to selecting a plumber tech school.

Is the Plumbing School Accredited?  Numerous plumbing vocational programs have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They can earn Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, for example electrical technology. Make certain that the Alabaster AL program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping make certain that you acquire a superior education, it can assist in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are often unavailable for non-accredited schools. Furthermore, some states mandate that the plumbing training program be accredited in order to be approved for certification or licensing.

Is the Plumbing School Licensed?  In addition to 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 typically controlled and regulated 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 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 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 looking at what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and complete the program. A low completion rate could signify that students were dissatisfied with the program and dropped out. It may also indicate that the instructors were not competent to instruct the students. It's also imperative that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader 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 will not only confirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of contacts to assist grads acquire apprenticeships or jobs in the Alabaster AL area.

Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored?  Numerous plumber technical programs are taught along with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating technical and vocational programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of plumbing contractors or labor unions. Find out if the schools you are comparing have referring relationships with local Alabaster AL plumbers or plumbing specialists. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by supplying practical training, but it also supplies employment opportunities and helps to build relationships in the regional plumbing professional community.

Are there Modern Facilities?  Make sure that the school facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are state-of-the-art and what you will be using in the field. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the master plumber you are working with concerning what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Alabaster AL plumbing company if they can give you some pointers.

Where is the School Located?  Unless you are able to move, the school must be within commuting distance of your Alabaster AL residence. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there may be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.

Are there Smaller Classes?  It's desirable that you receive as much one-on-one instruction as possible, which can be difficult in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor a couple of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and instructors. Talk with some of the students and get their opinions concerning class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk with some of the instructors and find out what their level of experience is in Alabaster AL and what certifications or degrees they hold.

Is the Class Schedule Convenient?  Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are evaluating are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you are only able to attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Alabaster AL, verify that the programs you are comparing offer those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Additionally, find out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family emergencies.

Learn More About Alabaster Plumber Tech Schools

Pick the Right Alabaster Plumber Trade School

Choosing the ideal plumber trade school will probably be the most important decision you will make to begin your new profession. As we have discussed in this article, there are a number of factors that you will need to examine and compare between the schools you are considering. It's a must that any plumbing training that you are evaluating includes a considerable amount of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be small in size and each student should have their own equipment to train with. Classroom education should offer a real-world context, and the course of study should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Programs differ in duration and the type of credential offered, so you will need to determine what length of program and credential will best satisfy your needs. Each training program provides unique options for certification as well. Probably The ideal approach to research your short list of schools is to visit each campus and speak with the students and faculty. Invest some time to monitor a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the school you pick is the right one for you. With the proper training, hard work and dedication, you can become a professional plumber in Alabaster AL.