How to Choose the Best Plumbing School near Alabaster Alabama
The first step to learning to be a plumbing contractor or tradesman is enrolling in a plumbing trade school near Alabaster AL. But with so many vocational schools to pick from, just how do you approach making certain that you enroll in the best one? Particularly since there are so many factors to examine. For instance, many potential students will start by searching for schools that are close to their home. After they have identified some that are within commuting distance, they will pick the one with the cheapest tuition. Even though cost and location are of importance, they are not the sole qualifications that should be considered. Also important are the reputations of the schools, their accreditation, along with their job placement and graduation rates. These and additional qualifications should help mold your ultimate decision when picking a plumbing trade school. We will address 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 educational options that are offered.
What is 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 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 OptionsThere 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 Plumbing Technical Schools
Now that you have decided to obtain a diploma, certificate or degree, you can begin to focus your school options. Considering that there are numerous plumbing vocational and trade schools in the Alabaster AL area, it's imperative to have a checklist of qualifications that each school must satisfy. The initial 2 that we discussed were location and tuition expense. And although both qualifiers may be important when making your selection, there are additional variables that must be considered as well. Following is a checklist of those additional qualifications that you will need to analyze prior to choosing a plumber technical school.
Is the Plumbing School Accredited? A large number of plumbing technical schools have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They may earn Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates 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 recognized accrediting agency, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping ensure that you receive an excellent education, it can assist in securing financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases not available for non-accredited schools. Furthermore, 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 confirming that a trade school you’re considering is reputable is by making sure 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 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 reviewing what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage or portion of students who enroll in and complete the course. A low completion rate might suggest that students were dissatisfied with the course and dropped out. It might 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 list of graduates, 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 confirm that the school has a good reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of contacts to assist graduates obtain apprenticeships or jobs in the Alabaster AL area.
Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored? A large number of plumber training programs are taught in conjunction with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating trade and vocational programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of plumbing companies or labor unions. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have working relationships with local Alabaster AL plumbers or plumbing specialists. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by supplying practical training, but it also furnishes employment opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the regional plumbing professional community.
Are there Modern Facilities? Make certain that the campus 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 already in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the master plumber you are working under concerning what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Alabaster AL plumbing contractor if they can give you some tips.
Where is the School Located? Unless you can relocate, the school must be within commuting distance of your Alabaster AL home. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there might be increased tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Are there Smaller Classes? It's important that you receive as much individualized instruction as possible, which can be challenging in bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a few of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and instructors. Speak to a few of the students and get their feedback regarding class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak to a few of the teachers and learn what their level of experience is in Alabaster AL and what degrees or certifications they have earned.
Is the Class Schedule Convenient? Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are evaluating are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Alabaster AL, check that the schools you are comparing offer those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Additionally, ask what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Choose the Right Alabaster Plumber Training School
Picking the ideal plumbing trade school will undoubtedly be the most critical decision you will make to begin your new profession. As we have addressed in this article, there are several factors that you will need to evaluate and compare among the schools you are reviewing. It's a prerequisite that any plumbing training that you are evaluating includes a lot of hands-on instruction. Classes should be smaller in size and each student must have their personal equipment to train with. Classroom teaching needs to offer a real-world perspective, and the training program should be current and conform with industry standards. Training programs differ in duration and the type of credential offered, so you will have to determine what length of program and certificate or degree will best serve your needs. Every training program offers unique possibilities for certification also. Perhaps the best means to research your final list of schools is to check out each campus and speak 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 training program you select is the best one for you. With the proper training, effort and commitment, you can become a professional plumber in Alabaster AL.