How to Find the Best Plumber Training School near Athens Alabama
The initial step to becoming a plumbing tradesman or contractor is finding a plumbing trade school near Athens AL. But with numerous vocational schools to select from, just how do you approach making certain that you enroll in the right one? Especially because there are so many variables to examine. For example, many students will begin by searching for schools that are nearby their residence. Once they have located some that are within commuting range, they will choose the one with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are of importance, they are not the only qualifications that need to be evaluated. Also important are the reputations of the schools, their accreditation, as well as their graduation and job placement rates. These and additional qualifiers should contribute toward your final decision when choosing a plumber training school. We will discuss that checklist in more detail later in this article. But to begin with, let's talk a little bit about becoming a plumber and the training choices that are accessible.
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.
Plumber 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.
Points to Ask Plumber Training Schools
When you have decided to earn a certificate, diploma or degree, you can start to focus your training options. Since there are numerous plumbing vocational and trade schools in the Athens AL region, it's imperative to have a checklist of criteria that each program must meet. The first 2 that we talked about were location and the cost of tuition. And while both qualifiers may be crucial when making your determination, there are additional variables that must be considered as well. Below is a checklist of those added qualifiers that you will need to research before choosing a plumber vocational school.
Is the Plumbing School Accredited? A large number of plumbing vocational programs have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They can acquire Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, for example electrical technology. Make certain that the Athens AL program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping ensure that you obtain an excellent education, it may assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited schools. Furthermore, many states mandate 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 trade 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 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 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 or portion of students who enroll in and complete the program. A lower completion rate could indicate that students were disappointed with the course and dropped out. It could also suggest that the instructors were not qualified to train the students. It's similarly important that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive directory of graduates, which may produce more contacts for the school to use 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 field, but also that it has the network of contacts to assist grads secure apprenticeships or jobs in the Athens AL area.
Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored? Numerous plumber technical programs are taught along with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating trade and vocational schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of plumbing businesses or labor unions. Check if the schools you are considering have working partnerships with local Athens AL plumbers or plumbing specialists. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by furnishing hands-on training, but it also provides job opportunities and helps to form relationships in the local plumbing professional community.
Are there Modern Facilities? Make certain that the school facilities and the tools that you will be trained on are state-of-the-art and what you will be using in the field. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the master plumber you are working under concerning what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Athens AL plumbing contractor if they can provide some tips.
Where is the School Located? Unless you can relocate, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Athens AL home. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added moving costs there might be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Are there Smaller Classes? It's desirable that you receive as much one-on-one instruction as possible, which can be difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor a couple of the classes so that you can see how big they are and experience the interaction between students and instructors. Talk to several of the students and get their comments concerning class sizes and instruction. Last, speak with a few 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 programs you are reviewing 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 programs you are considering offer those options. If you can only attend part-time, be sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Finally, find out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Find Out More About Athens Plumbing Training Schools
Enroll in the Best Athens Plumber Trade School
Choosing the right plumbing trade school will probably be the most critical decision you will make to begin your new career. As we have covered in this article, there are many factors that you will need to evaluate and compare between the training programs you are looking at. It's a must that any plumbing training that you are evaluating includes a lot of hands-on training. Classes should be smaller in size and every student should have their own equipment to train with. Classroom education needs to provide a real-world perspective, and the training program should be current and conform with industry standards. Training programs differ in duration and the kind of credential offered, so you will have to ascertain what length of program and credential will best serve your needs. Each training program offers unique options for certification also. Perhaps the best means to research your final list of schools is to check out each campus and talk with the students and instructors. Take the time to monitor a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the school you pick is the right one for you. With the proper training, hard work and dedication, you can become a professional plumber in Athens AL.