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How to Select the Right Plumber Technical School near Auburn Alabama

Auburn Alabama plumber repairing kitchen faucetThe first step to becoming a plumbing tradesman or contractor is finding a plumbing trade school near Auburn AL. But with so many technical schools to pick from, just how do you tackle making sure that you enroll in the best one? Especially because there are a number of points to examine. For instance, some students will start by searching for schools that are nearby their home. When they have found several that are within commuting distance, they will decide on the one with the least expensive tuition. While cost and location are important, they are not the sole qualifications that should be examined. Also critical are the reputations of the schools, their accreditation, in addition to their job placement and graduation rates. These and additional qualifications should contribute toward your final judgment when choosing a plumbing trade school. We will cover that checklist in more detail later in this post. But first, let's review a little bit about becoming a plumber and the instructional options 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 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 Options

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.

Points to Ask Plumbing Tech Schools

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Now that you have made a decision to earn a certificate, diploma or degree, you can begin to focus your school options. Considering that there are so many plumbing vocational and trade schools in the Auburn AL area, it's essential to have a checklist of qualifications that each school must meet. The initial 2 that we discussed were location and the cost of tuition. And even though both qualifiers may be crucial when making your selection, there are additional variables that must be considered also. Following is a checklist of those additional qualifiers that you will need to analyze before enrolling in a plumber tech school.

Is the Plumbing School Accredited?  Numerous plumbing trade schools have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They may receive Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, such as electrical technology. Verify that the Auburn AL program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping guarantee that you obtain a quality education, it may help in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently unavailable for non-accredited schools. Furthermore, some states mandate that the plumbing training course be accredited for it to be approved for licensing or certification.

Is the Plumbing School Licensed?  In addition to accreditation, another way of confirming that a vocational 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 regulates 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 training programs you are reviewing what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and finish the course. A low completion rate might indicate that students were dissatisfied with the program and dropped out. It could also mean that the instructors were not qualified to instruct the students. It's similarly important that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader directory of graduates, which can mean more contacts for the school to utilize for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only affirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of contacts to help grads secure apprenticeships or employment in the Auburn AL area.

Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored?  Numerous plumber training programs are taught together with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating trade and technical schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of plumbing businesses or labor unions. Ask if the schools you are comparing have referring relationships with local Auburn AL plumbers or plumbing companies. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by providing hands-on training, but it also supplies employment opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the area plumbing professional community.

Are there Modern Facilities?  Make certain that the campus facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are up-to-date and what you will be working with on the job. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the master plumber you are working with regarding what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Auburn AL plumbing contracting company if they can give you some suggestions.

Where is the School Located?  Unless you are able to move, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Auburn AL home. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there might be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.

Are there Smaller Classes?  It's important that you get as much personalized instruction as possible, which can be challenging in larger classes. Ask if you can sit in on some of the classes so that you can see how big they are and experience the interaction between students and teachers. Talk with a few of the students and get their opinions concerning class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk to some of the teachers and find out what their level of experience is in Auburn AL and what certifications or degrees they hold.

Is the Class Schedule Convenient?  Confirm that the class schedules for the schools you are evaluating are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Auburn AL, verify that the schools you are looking at offer those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Additionally, ask what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family emergencies.

Find Out More About Auburn Plumbing Trade Schools

Enroll in the Right Auburn Plumbing Trade School

Selecting the right plumbing trade school will undoubtedly be the most critical decision you will make to begin your new profession. As we have covered in this article, there are many factors that you will need to assess and compare between the schools you are considering. It's a prerequisite that any plumber tech school that you are evaluating includes a lot of hands-on instruction. Classes should be smaller in size and each student should have their own equipment to train with. Classroom teaching needs to offer a real-world perspective, and the curriculum should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Programs vary in length and the kind of credential offered, so you will need to determine what length of program and credential will best fulfill your needs. Each training program provides unique options for certification as well. Probably the best approach to research your short list of schools is to go to each campus and talk with the students and instructors. Invest some time to monitor some classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the school you choose is the best one for you. With the right training, effort and dedication, you can become a professional plumber in Auburn AL.