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How to Find the Right Plumber Trade School near Alabaster Alabama

Alabaster Alabama plumbing contractor installing sink faucetThe first step to becoming a plumbing contractor or tradesman is enrolling in a plumbing trade school near Alabaster AL. But with numerous technical schools to choose from, just how do you tackle making sure that you enroll in the best one? Especially since there are so many points to evaluate. For instance, some students will commence by looking for schools that are nearby their residence. Once they have found some that are within driving range, they will choose the one with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are important, they are not the only qualifications that need to be evaluated. Also important are the reputations of the schools, their accreditation, in addition to their job placement and graduation rates. These and additional qualifications should help mold your ultimate decision when selecting a plumber trade school. We will cover that checklist in more detail later in this article. But first, let's review a little bit about becoming a plumber and the training 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.

Questions to Ask Plumber Technical Schools

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Once you have made a decision to obtain a certificate, diploma or degree, you can start to narrow down 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 criteria that each school must satisfy. The initial two that we mentioned were location and the cost of tuition. And although both qualifiers may be crucial when making your determination, there are additional variables that need to be considered also. Below is a checklist of those additional qualifications that you will need to analyze before enrolling in a plumber tech school.

Is the Plumbing School Accredited?  Many plumbing vocational programs have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They may attain Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, for example electrical technology. Make sure that the Alabaster AL program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting organization, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping make certain that you get a superior education, it may help in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases not available for non-accredited schools. Additionally, a number of states require that the plumbing training course be accredited for it to qualify for certification or licensing.

Is the Plumbing School Licensed?  In addition to accreditation, an additional way of confirming that a trade school you’re reiewing is reputable is by making sure that it’s properly licensed.  Licensing is typically regulated and controlled by state agencies, such as the Alabama Department of Education.  If you’re not sure, 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 schools you are reviewing what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students who enroll in and finish the program. A low completion rate might suggest that students were disappointed with the course and quit. It might also indicate 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 broader list of alumni, which may 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 a good reputation within the field, 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?  Most plumber technical 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 partnerships with local Alabaster AL plumbers or plumbing companies. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by providing practical training, but it also furnishes job opportunities and helps to build relationships in the area plumbing professional community.

Are there Modern Facilities?  Confirm that the school facilities and the tools that you will be instructed on are state-of-the-art and what you will be working with in the field. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the master plumber you are working with regarding what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Alabaster AL plumbing contractor if they can give you some tips.

Where is the School Located?  Unless you are willing to move, the school must be within driving distance of your Alabaster AL home. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there may be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.

Are there Smaller Classes?  It's important that you get as much individualized training as possible, which can be difficult in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor a couple of the classes so that you can see how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and instructors. Speak to some of the students and get their opinions regarding class sizes and instruction. Last, speak to a few of the instructors and learn what their level of experience is in Alabaster AL and what certifications or degrees they have earned.

Is the Class Schedule Convenient?  Make sure that the class schedules for the schools you are evaluating are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Alabaster AL, confirm that the schools you are considering offer those options. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Additionally, ask what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family issues.

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Pick the Right Alabaster Plumber Training School

Choosing the ideal plumbing trade school will probably be the most important decision you will make to start your new profession. As we have covered in this article, there are several factors that you will need to examine and compare among the training programs you are considering. It's a necessity that any plumbing training program that you are reviewing includes a considerable amount of hands-on training. Classes should be small in size and each student must have their personal equipment to train with. Classroom teaching should offer 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 offered, so you will need to ascertain what length of program and degree or certificate will best satisfy your needs. Every program provides different options for certification as well. Probably The ideal approach to research your short list of schools is to check out each campus and talk with the students and faculty. Take the time to attend a few 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 right training, effort and commitment, you can become a professional plumber in Alabaster AL.