How to Enroll in the Best Plumbing School near Athens Alabama
The first step to becoming a plumbing contractor or tradesman is locating a plumbing trade school near Athens AL. But with numerous technical schools to pick from, just how do you approach making certain that you enroll in the ideal one? Especially because there are so many variables to examine. For example, some potential students will start by looking for schools that are nearby their home. Once they have identified 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 must be considered. Also critical are the accreditation and reputations of the schools, in addition to their job placement and graduation rates. These and additional qualifiers should contribute toward your final decision when choosing a plumbing training school. We will cover that checklist in more detail later in this post. But first, let's talk a little bit about becoming a plumber and the training choices that are offered.
Becoming 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.
Plumbing Certificate and Degree 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.
Questions to Ask Plumber Vocational Schools
Once you have made a decision to earn a certificate, diploma or degree, you can start to focus your school options. Because there are so many plumbing vocational and trade schools in the Athens AL area, it's imperative to have a checklist of qualifications that each program must satisfy. The first 2 that we discussed were location and tuition expense. And even though both qualifiers may be important when making your determination, there are other variables that need to be taken into account as well. Following is a checklist of those added qualifiers that you will need to assess prior to choosing a plumber tech school.
Is the Plumbing School Accredited? Many plumbing technical programs have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They can attain Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, for example electrical technology. Verify that the Athens AL program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping make certain that you acquire an excellent education, it can help in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases not available for non-accredited schools. Furthermore, a number of states mandate that the plumbing training program be accredited in order to be approved for certification or licensing.
Is the Plumbing School Licensed? In addition to accreditation, another way of confirming that a trade school you’re reiewing 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’re not sure, 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 considering what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students who enroll in and complete the course. A lower completion rate could indicate that students were disappointed with the course and quit. It might also mean that the teachers were not qualified to train the students. It's similarly essential that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive list of graduates, which can mean more contacts for the school to employ for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only affirm that the school has a good reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of contacts to assist graduates secure apprenticeships or employment in the Athens AL area.
Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored? Numerous plumber training programs are taught along with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating vocational and trade programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of plumbing contractors or labor unions. Check if the schools you are reviewing have referring relationships with local Athens AL plumbers or plumbing companies. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by furnishing hands-on training, but it also supplies employment opportunities and helps to form relationships in the area plumbing professional community.
Are there Modern Facilities? Make sure that the school facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are up-to-date and what you will be using in the field. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the master plumber you are working with regarding what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Athens AL plumbing contracting company if they can give you some suggestions.
Where is the School Located? Unless you are willing to relocate, the school must be within driving distance of your Athens AL residence. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there can 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 challenging in bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on some of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and experience the interaction between teachers and students. Speak to a few of the students and get their comments relating to class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak to some of the teachers and find out what their level of experience is in Athens AL and what degrees or certifications they have earned.
Is the Class Schedule Convenient? Confirm that the class schedules for the schools you are assessing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you are only able to attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Athens AL, confirm that the schools 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. Also, find out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family responsibilities.
Learn More About Athens Plumbing Tech Schools
Choose the Right Athens Plumbing Vocational School
Selecting the ideal plumber trade school will probably be the most important decision you will make to start your new career. As we have covered in this article, there are many factors that you will need to evaluate and compare between the schools you are considering. It's a must that any plumber training that you are considering includes a considerable amount of hands-on training. Classes need to be small in size and every student should have their personal equipment to train with. Classroom teaching should offer a real-world perspective, and the training program should be current and in-line with industry standards. Training programs differ in length and the type of credential provided, so you will have to ascertain what length of program and certificate or degree will best fulfill your needs. Every training program provides unique options for certification also. Probably the best approach to research your final list of schools is to go to each campus and talk with the faculty and students. Invest some time to monitor a few classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the program you select is the ideal one for you. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, you can become a professional plumber in Athens AL.