How to Enroll in the Best Plumber Tech School near Alabaster Alabama
The first step to becoming a plumbing contractor or tradesman is enrolling in a plumbing trade school near Alabaster AL. But with numerous vocational schools to choose from, just how do you tackle making certain that you enroll in the best one? Especially because there are so many variables to evaluate. For instance, some prospective students will commence by searching for schools that are nearby their home. Once they have located a few that are within commuting range, they will select the one with the least expensive tuition. While location and cost are of importance, they are not the only qualifications that should be considered. Also important are the accreditation and reputations of the schools, along with their job placement and graduation rates. These and additional qualifiers should help mold your ultimate judgment when choosing a plumbing training school. We will cover that checklist in more detail later in this article. But to begin with, let's talk a little bit about becoming a plumber and the instructional 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.
Plumber Degree and Certificate 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 Trade Schools
When you have decided to earn a diploma, certificate or degree, you can start to refine your training options. Considering that there are numerous plumbing vocational and trade schools in the Alabaster AL region, it's imperative to have a checklist of criteria that each school must meet. The first two that we discussed were location and tuition expense. And while both qualifiers may be important when making your determination, there are other factors that must be taken into account as well. Below is a checklist of those added qualifiers that you will need to assess prior to selecting a plumber technical school.
Is the Plumbing School Accredited? A large number of plumbing trade schools have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They may earn Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, for instance electrical technology. Confirm that the Alabaster AL school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting organization, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping ensure that you receive a superior education, it may assist in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable for non-accredited programs. Furthermore, some 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 vocational school you’re considering is reputable is by making sure 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 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 or portion of students who enroll in and complete the course. A low completion rate could signify that students were disappointed with the course and quit. It might also mean that the teachers were not qualified 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 more extensive list of graduates, which may result in more contacts for the school to use for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only affirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the industry, but additionally 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 vocational programs are taught in conjunction with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating vocational and trade programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of plumbing companies or trade unions. Ask if the schools you are considering have working partnerships with local Alabaster AL plumbers or plumbing contractors. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by furnishing practical training, but it also supplies job opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the area plumbing professional community.
Are there Modern Facilities? Make sure that the campus facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are up-to-date and what you will be using on the job. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the master plumber you are working with regarding what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Alabaster AL plumbing contractor if they can give you some suggestions.
Where is the School Located? Unless you are willing to relocate, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Alabaster AL residence. Remember that if you decide to attend 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 one-on-one instruction as possible, which can be challenging in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor a few of the classes so that you can see how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between teachers and students. Talk to several of the students and get their opinions regarding class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk to some of the teachers and find out what their level of experience is in Alabaster AL and what degrees or certifications they have earned.
Is the Class Schedule Convenient? Confirm that the class schedules for the programs 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, check 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 offers part-time enrollment. Additionally, ask what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Choose the Right Alabaster Plumbing Training School
Picking the best plumbing trade school will undoubtedly be the most important decision you will make to launch your new career. As we have addressed in this article, there are a number of things that you will need to evaluate and compare among the schools you are considering. It's a necessity that any plumber tech school that you are considering includes a considerable amount of hands-on instruction. 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 type of credential offered, so you will have to ascertain what length of program and degree or certificate will best satisfy your needs. Each training program provides unique options for certification as well. Perhaps the best means to research your final list of schools is to check out each campus and talk with the teachers and students. Take the time to monitor some classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the school you choose is the right one for you. With the right training, effort and commitment, you can become a professional plumber in Alabaster AL.