How to Find the Right Plumber School near Athens Alabama
The first step to learning to be a plumbing contractor or tradesman is locating a plumbing trade school near Athens AL. But with numerous vocational schools to pick from, just how do you go about making certain that you enroll in the ideal one? Particularly since there are a number of factors to evaluate. For example, many potential students will start by searching for schools that are nearby their home. When they have identified several that are within driving distance, they will pick the one with the lowest tuition. Even though cost and location are important, they are not the sole qualifications that need to be evaluated. Also important are the accreditation and reputations of the schools, in addition to their job placement and graduation rates. These and additional qualifications should influence your ultimate decision when picking a plumber trade school. We will address that checklist in more detail later in this article. But first, let's talk a little bit about becoming a plumber and the instructional options that are accessible.
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 Athens AL plumber will typically advance through three phases during their professional career.
- Apprentice. The majority of Athens 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 Athens 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 Athens 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 Trade Schools
Now that you have decided to obtain a certificate, diploma or degree, you can start to focus your school options. Considering that there are so many plumbing trade and vocational schools in the Athens AL region, it's imperative to have a checklist of criteria that each school must satisfy. The first two that we talked about were location and tuition expense. And even though both qualifiers may be critical when making your selection, there are additional variables that need to be taken into account as well. Following is a checklist of those added qualifiers that you will need to research before selecting a plumber vocational school.
Is the Plumbing School Accredited? Many plumbing trade schools have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They can receive Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, for example electrical technology. Make certain that the Athens AL school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping guarantee that you get a superior education, it can help in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently unavailable for non-accredited programs. Also, many 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 determining if a vocational school you’re reiewing is reputable is by checking 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 is responsible for 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 Athens 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 might indicate that students were dissatisfied with the program and quit. It may also signify that the teachers were not competent to instruct the students. It's also essential that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader 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 confirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of contacts to assist graduates acquire apprenticeships or employment in the Athens AL area.
Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored? Most plumber trade programs are taught in conjunction with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating technical and vocational schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of plumbing companies or labor unions. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have working relationships with local Athens AL plumbers or plumbing contractors. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by providing practical training, but it also furnishes employment opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the area plumbing professional community.
Are there Modern Facilities? Make sure that the school facilities and the tools that you will be trained on are up-to-date and what you will be using on the job. If you are presently 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 Athens AL plumbing contracting company if they can give you some tips.
Where is the School Located? Unless you are able to move, the school must be within commuting distance of your Athens AL home. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there can be higher tuition fees 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 difficult in larger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a couple of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and experience the interaction between students and teachers. Speak with some of the students and get their feedback relating to class sizes and instruction. Last, talk to a few of the teachers and learn what their level of experience is in Athens AL and what certifications or degrees they have earned.
Is the Class Schedule Convenient? Confirm that the class schedules for the schools you are assessing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Athens AL, confirm that the schools you are comparing offer those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, check out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family emergencies.
Choose the Right Athens Plumber Vocational School
Selecting the right plumbing trade school will probably be the most critical decision you will make to begin your new trade. As we have addressed in this article, there are several factors that you will need to assess and compare between the schools you are reviewing. It's a must that any plumber training that you are evaluating includes a good deal of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be smaller in size and every student must have their personal equipment to train with. Classroom teaching should offer a real-world frame of reference, and the training program should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Training programs vary in duration and the type of credential offered, so you will have to determine what length of program and credential will best satisfy your needs. Every training program offers unique options for certification also. Probably the best means to research your final list of schools is to check out each campus and talk with the students and instructors. Invest some time to sit in on a few classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the program you select is the ideal one for you. With the proper training, effort and dedication, you can become a professional plumber in Athens AL.