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How to Enroll in the Right Plumbing School near Anniston Alabama

Anniston Alabama plumbing contractor replacing kitchen faucetThe initial step to learning to be a plumbing contractor or tradesman is finding a plumbing trade school near Anniston AL. But with so many technical schools to pick from, just how do you tackle making certain that you enroll in the best one? Particularly because there are so many variables to examine. For instance, some students will commence by looking for schools that are nearby their residence. When they have found several that are within driving distance, they will pick the one with the cheapest tuition. Although cost and location are of importance, they are not the only things that should be evaluated. Also critical are the reputations of the schools, their accreditation, along with their job placement and graduation rates. These and other qualifiers should help mold your final decision when picking a plumbing trade school. We will cover that checklist in greater detail later in this post. But first, let's talk a little bit about becoming a plumber and the instructional options 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 Anniston AL plumber will typically advance through three phases during their professional career.

  • Apprentice. The majority of Anniston 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 Anniston 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 Programs

There are several educational options available near Anniston 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

Anniston Alabama plumbing contractor installing water heater

Now that you have made a decision to earn a certificate, diploma or degree, you can begin to focus your school options. Considering that there are numerous plumbing vocational and trade schools in the Anniston AL region, it's essential to have a checklist of criteria that each school must meet. The first 2 that we talked about were location and tuition expense. And while both qualifiers may be crucial when making your decision, there are additional variables that need to be considered also. Following is a checklist of those added qualifications that you will need to analyze prior to selecting a plumber vocational school.

Is the Plumbing School Accredited?  Many plumbing vocational programs have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They may receive Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, for example electrical technology. Make sure that the Anniston AL school 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 guarantee that you obtain a superior education, it may help in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently unavailable for non-accredited schools. Furthermore, many states mandate that the plumbing training program be accredited for it to be approved for certification or licensing.

Is the Plumbing School Licensed?  Along with accreditation, an additional way of determining if a trade school you’re considering is reputable is by checking that it’s properly licensed.  Licensing is usually controlled and regulated by state agencies, such as the Alabama Department of Education.  If you don’t know, ask the school which state agency is responsible for 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 Anniston 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 percentage of students who enroll in and complete the program. A low completion rate may suggest that students were disappointed with the course and dropped out. It might also mean that the teachers were not competent to train the students. It's similarly imperative that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive directory of alumni, which may mean more contacts for the school to utilize for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only affirm that the school has a good reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of contacts to help students secure apprenticeships or employment in the Anniston AL area.

Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored?  A large number of plumber training programs are taught in conjunction with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating trade and vocational schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of plumbing contractors or labor unions. Find out if the schools you are comparing have working partnerships with local Anniston AL plumbers or plumbing professionals. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by furnishing hands-on training, but it also furnishes employment opportunities and helps to build relationships in the area plumbing professional community.

Are there Modern Facilities?  Confirm that the campus facilities and the tools that you will be instructed on are up-to-date and what you will be using in the field. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the master plumber you are working under concerning what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Anniston AL plumbing contractor if they can provide some pointers.

Where is the School Located?  Unless you are willing to move, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Anniston AL home. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added moving costs there might be increased 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 larger classes. Ask if you can sit in on some of the classes so that you can see how large they are and experience the interaction between students and teachers. Speak with a few of the students and get their feedback regarding class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk with a few of the teachers and learn what their level of experience is in Anniston AL and what degrees or certifications they have earned.

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 can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Anniston 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 allows part-time enrollment. Additionally, find out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family issues.

Find Out More About Anniston Plumbing Trade Schools

Choose the Right Anniston Plumbing Trade School

Selecting the best plumber training program will probably be the most critical decision you will make to begin your new trade. As we have discussed in this article, there are several things that you will need to assess and compare between the schools you are looking at. It's a prerequisite that any plumbing training program that you are evaluating includes a considerable amount of hands-on instruction. Classes should be small in size and every student should have their personal equipment to train with. Classroom education should offer a real-world frame of reference, and the training program should be current and conform with industry standards. Training programs differ in length and the kind of credential provided, so you will have to decide what length of program and degree or certificate will best satisfy your needs. Every training program provides different possibilities for certification as well. Perhaps the best approach to research your short list of schools is to go to each campus and speak with the students and faculty. Take the time to attend a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the program you choose is the best one for you. With the right training, effort and dedication, you can become a professional plumber in Anniston AL.