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How to Find the Right Plumber School near Athens Alabama

Athens Alabama plumber replacing sink faucetThe first step to becoming a plumbing contractor or tradesman is finding a plumbing trade school near Athens AL. But with so many vocational schools to select from, just how do you tackle making certain that you enroll in the ideal one? Particularly because there are a number of points to consider. For example, many students will commence by searching for schools that are close to their residence. Once they have found several that are within driving distance, they will choose the one with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are significant, they are not the sole things that should be evaluated. Also important are the reputations of the schools, their accreditation, in addition to their job placement and graduation rates. These and additional qualifiers should help mold your ultimate judgment when selecting a plumbing training school. We will talk about that checklist in greater detail later in this article. But to begin with, let's review a little bit about becoming a plumber and the instructional 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 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 Certificate and Degree Options

There 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 Vocational Schools

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Now that you have made a decision to earn a certificate, diploma or degree, you can begin to refine your school options. Since there are numerous plumbing trade and vocational schools in the Athens AL region, it's imperative to have a checklist of qualifications that each school must meet. The initial 2 that we talked about were location and tuition expense. And even though both qualifiers may be crucial when making your decision, there are other factors that must be considered as well. Following is a checklist of those additional qualifiers that you will need to assess prior to choosing a plumber technical school.

Is the Plumbing School Accredited?  Numerous plumbing vocational schools have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They may receive Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, for example electrical technology. Make sure that the Athens AL program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping make certain that you acquire a quality education, it can help in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently unavailable for non-accredited programs. Also, many states mandate that the plumbing training program be accredited for it to be approved for licensing or certification.

Is the Plumbing School Licensed?  In addition to accreditation, another way of determining if a vocational school you’re reiewing is reputable is by making sure that it’s properly licensed.  Licensing is usually 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 schools you are considering what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and complete the program. A lower completion rate might signify that students were disappointed with the program and quit. It could also suggest that the instructors were not qualified to instruct the students. It's also important that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader 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 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 Athens AL area.

Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored?  A large number of plumber vocational programs are taught along with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating vocational and trade schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of plumbing companies or trade unions. Check if the schools you are comparing have referring relationships with local Athens AL plumbers or plumbing professionals. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by supplying practical training, but it also supplies employment opportunities and helps to form 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 up-to-date and what you will be using in the field. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the master plumber you are working under concerning what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Athens AL plumbing contractor if they can give you some suggestions.

Where is the School Located?  Unless you can relocate, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Athens AL residence. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there can be higher 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 monitor a couple of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and experience the interaction between students and teachers. Speak to several of the students and get their comments relating to class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak to some of the teachers and learn what their level of experience is in Athens AL and what certifications or degrees they hold.

Is the Class Schedule Convenient?  Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are assessing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you are only able to go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Athens AL, verify that the programs you are comparing offer those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family responsibilities.

Learn More About Athens Plumber Vocational Schools

Pick the Best Athens Plumbing Vocational School

Selecting the ideal plumber training program will undoubtedly be the most critical decision you will make to launch your new profession. As we have addressed in this article, there are several factors that you will need to examine and compare among the schools you are looking at. It's a must that any plumber tech school that you are evaluating includes a lot of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be small in size and every student must have their personal equipment to train with. Classroom teaching needs to provide a real-world frame of reference, and the course of study should be current and conform with industry standards. Courses vary in length and the kind of credential offered, so you will need to ascertain what length of program and credential will best fulfill your needs. Every training program offers unique options for certification as well. Perhaps The ideal way to research your final list of schools is to check out each campus and talk with the faculty and students. Take the time to sit in on a few classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the training program you decide on is the best one for you. With the proper training, hard work and dedication, you can become a professional plumber in Athens AL.