How to Find the Best Plumber Training School near Athens Alabama
The initial step to becoming a plumbing contractor or tradesman is locating a plumbing trade school near Athens AL. But with numerous technical schools to select from, just how do you approach making certain that you enroll in the best one? Especially because there are a number of factors to consider. For instance, many prospective students will begin by searching for schools that are nearby their home. When they have located some that are within driving distance, they will pick the one with the least expensive tuition. Although location and cost are of importance, they are not the only qualifications that should be considered. Also important are the reputations of the schools, their accreditation, in addition to their job placement and graduation rates. These and other qualifications should influence your ultimate judgment when choosing a plumber training school. We will discuss that checklist in greater detail later in this article. But first, let's review a little bit about becoming a plumber and the educational 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.
Plumbing Certificate and Degree ProgramsThere 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.
Things to Ask Plumber Training Schools
Once you have made a decision to earn a certificate, diploma or degree, you can begin to narrow down your training options. Because there are so many plumbing tech and trade schools in the Athens AL region, it's essential to have a checklist of qualifications that each school must satisfy. The first 2 that we mentioned were location and tuition expense. And while both qualifiers may be important when making your decision, there are additional variables that need to be considered also. Following is a checklist of those additional qualifiers that you will need to research before selecting a plumber trade school.
Is the Plumbing School Accredited? Many plumbing trade programs have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They can attain Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, for instance electrical technology. Make sure 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 receive a superior education, it may help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. Additionally, some states require that the plumbing training course be accredited in order to qualify for licensing or certification.
Is the Plumbing School Licensed? In addition to accreditation, another way of confirming that a trade school you’re reiewing is reputable is by checking 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 looking at what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and complete the program. A lower completion rate could suggest that students were dissatisfied with the course and dropped out. It might also mean that the teachers were not competent to instruct the students. It's also imperative 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 use for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only validate that the school has a good reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of contacts to help students obtain apprenticeships or employment in the Athens AL area.
Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored? A large number of plumber technical 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 within their network of plumbing contractors or trade unions. Find out if the schools you are comparing have working partnerships with local Athens AL plumbers or plumbing professionals. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by furnishing hands-on training, but it also provides job opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the local plumbing professional community.
Are there Modern Facilities? Make certain that the campus facilities and the tools that you will be instructed on are up-to-date and what you will be using on the job. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the master plumber you are working with regarding what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Athens AL plumbing company if they can provide some pointers.
Where is the School Located? Unless you are willing to relocate, the school must be within commuting distance of your Athens AL residence. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there may be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Are there Smaller Classes? It's desirable that you get as much one-on-one training 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 big they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and instructors. Talk to some of the students and get their feedback regarding class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak to some of the instructors and find out what their level of experience is in Athens AL and what degrees or certifications they hold.
Is the Class Schedule Convenient? Confirm that the class schedules for the schools you are assessing are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Athens AL, check that the programs you are looking at offer those choices. If you can only attend part-time, be sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Finally, check out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family emergencies.
Pick the Right Athens Plumbing Trade School
Picking the right plumbing training program will probably be the most important decision you will make to begin your new trade. As we have covered in this article, there are many things that you will need to assess and compare between the schools you are reviewing. It's a prerequisite that any plumber training that you are evaluating includes a lot of hands-on training. Classes should be smaller in size and every student must have their own equipment to train with. Classroom instruction should provide a real-world perspective, and the course of study should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Programs differ in duration and the kind of credential provided, so you will need to determine what length of program and certificate or degree will best satisfy your needs. Each program provides different options for certification as well. Perhaps the best way to research your short list of schools is to check out each campus and talk with the students and faculty. Take the time to monitor a few classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the program you pick is the best one for you. With the proper training, hard work and dedication, you can become a professional plumber in Athens AL.