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How to Choose the Right Plumbing School near Auburn Alabama

Auburn Alabama plumbing contractor fixing kitchen faucetThe first step to learning to be a plumbing contractor or tradesman is enrolling in a plumbing trade school near Auburn AL. But with so many technical schools to choose from, just how do you tackle making sure that you enroll in the right one? Particularly since there are so many points to consider. For instance, many prospective students will begin by searching for schools that are nearby their residence. Once they have identified several that are within commuting distance, they will pick the one with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are significant, they are not the only factors that must be examined. Also critical are the reputations of the schools, their accreditation, in addition to their graduation and job placement rates. These and additional qualifiers should influence your ultimate judgment when selecting a plumber trade school. We will discuss 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 educational options that are accessible.

What is a Plumber?

Auburn Alabama plumber repairing sink pipe

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 Auburn AL plumber will typically advance through three phases during their professional career.

  • Apprentice. The majority of Auburn 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 Auburn 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 Programs

There are several educational options available near Auburn 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 Plumbing Trade Schools

Auburn Alabama plumber installing water heater

Now that you have decided to earn a certificate, diploma or degree, you can begin to focus your training options. Considering that there are numerous plumbing trade and vocational schools in the Auburn AL area, it's essential to have a checklist of qualifications that each program must satisfy. The initial 2 that we talked about were location and the cost of tuition. And although both qualifiers may be critical when making your determination, there are additional factors that need to be considered as well. Below is a checklist of those added qualifications that you will need to research prior to choosing a plumber technical school.

Is the Plumbing School Accredited?  Many plumbing vocational programs have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They can earn Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, such as electrical technology. Confirm that the Auburn AL school and program 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 quality education, it may assist in securing financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable for non-accredited programs. Also, 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?  Along with accreditation, an additional way of determining if a vocational school you’re considering is reputable is by checking that it’s properly licensed.  Licensing is usually controlled and regulated 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 Auburn 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 portion or percentage of students who enroll in and finish the course. A low completion rate could indicate that students were dissatisfied with the course and dropped out. It may also mean that the teachers were not competent to train the students. It's similarly essential that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader directory of graduates, which may result in more contacts for the school to use for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only validate that the school has an excellent reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of contacts to help graduates obtain apprenticeships or jobs in the Auburn AL area.

Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored?  Many plumber trade programs are taught together with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating trade and vocational schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of plumbing businesses or trade unions. Find out if the schools you are comparing have working relationships with local Auburn AL plumbers or plumbing companies. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by supplying hands-on training, but it also supplies employment opportunities and helps to build relationships in the regional plumbing professional community.

Are there Modern Facilities?  Make certain that the school facilities and the tools that you will be instructed on are state-of-the-art and what you will be working with 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 looking for. If not, ask a local Auburn AL plumbing contracting company if they can give you some pointers.

Where is the School Located?  Unless you are willing to move, the school must be within driving distance of your Auburn AL home. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there might be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.

Are there Smaller Classes?  It's desirable that you get as much personalized instruction as possible, which can be challenging in bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a few of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and witness first hand the interaction between instructors and students. Talk with several of the students and get their feedback regarding class sizes and instruction. Last, speak with a few of the teachers and find out what their level of experience is in Auburn AL and what certifications or degrees they have earned.

Is the Class Schedule Convenient?  Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are evaluating are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Auburn AL, confirm that the programs you are looking at offer those choices. If you can only attend part-time, make certain that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family issues.

Find Out More About Auburn Plumber Tech Schools

Pick the Right Auburn Plumber Trade School

Selecting the ideal plumbing 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 looking at. It's a must that any plumber training that you are examining includes a lot of hands-on instruction. Classes should be smaller in size and each student must have their own equipment to train with. Classroom instruction should offer a real-world frame of reference, and the training program should be current and conform with industry standards. Courses differ in length and the type of credential provided, so you will need to determine what length of program and certificate or degree will best satisfy your needs. Each training program offers unique options for certification as well. Probably the best way to research your final list of schools is to check out each campus and speak with the faculty and students. Take the time to attend a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the school you choose is the best one for you. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, you can become a professional plumber in Auburn AL.