How to Choose the Right Plumbing Technical School near Birmingham Alabama
The first step to becoming a plumbing contractor or tradesman is finding a plumbing trade school near Birmingham AL. But with so many technical schools to select from, just how do you approach making sure that you enroll in the ideal one? Especially since there are a number of factors to evaluate. For instance, some prospective students will start by looking for schools that are nearby their home. Once they have identified a few that are within commuting range, they will select the one with the least expensive tuition. While location and cost are significant, they are not the sole factors that need to be examined. Also important are the reputations of the schools, their accreditation, in addition to their graduation and job placement rates. These and additional qualifiers should help mold your ultimate judgment when selecting a plumber training school. We will talk about that checklist in more detail later in this post. But first, let's talk a little bit about becoming a plumber and the instructional choices that are available.
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 Birmingham AL plumber will typically advance through three phases during their professional career.
- Apprentice. The majority of Birmingham 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 Birmingham AL is to enroll in a plumbing technology program that will provide the comprehensive quality training needed to embark on this challenging career.
Plumber Degree and Certificate OptionsThere are several educational options available near Birmingham 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.
Topics to Ask Plumbing Tech Schools
When you have made a decision to earn a diploma, certificate or degree, you can start to narrow down your training options. Since there are numerous plumbing tech and trade schools in the Birmingham AL area, it's essential to have a checklist of criteria that each school must satisfy. The first two that we talked about were location and tuition expense. And although both qualifiers may be critical when making your selection, there are additional factors that need to be taken into account as well. Below is a checklist of those added qualifications that you will need to analyze prior to choosing a plumber tech school.
Is the Plumbing School Accredited? Numerous plumbing vocational programs have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They can attain Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, for instance electrical technology. Make sure that the Birmingham AL program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting organization, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping guarantee that you receive a superior education, it may assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable for non-accredited programs. Additionally, a number of states mandate that the plumbing training program be accredited for it to be approved for certification or licensing.
Is the Plumbing School Licensed? Along with accreditation, another 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 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 Birmingham 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 considering what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students who enroll in and finish the course. A lower completion rate may suggest that students were dissatisfied with the program and quit. It might also suggest that the teachers were not qualified to instruct the students. It's also essential that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader directory of graduates, which can produce 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 industry, but additionally that it has the network of contacts to help students obtain apprenticeships or employment in the Birmingham AL area.
Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored? Many plumber training programs are taught along 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 contractors or labor unions. Check if the schools you are comparing have referring partnerships with local Birmingham AL plumbers or plumbing professionals. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by supplying practical training, but it also supplies job 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 working with on the job. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the master plumber you are working under concerning what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Birmingham AL plumbing company if they can give you some pointers.
Where is the School Located? Unless you can move, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Birmingham AL home. Take note that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there may be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Are there Smaller Classes? It's desirable that you receive as much personalized training as possible, which can be difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on some of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and witness first hand the interaction between instructors and students. Speak with some of the students and get their comments relating to class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk to some of the instructors and learn what their level of experience is in Birmingham AL and what certifications or degrees they hold.
Is the Class Schedule Convenient? Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are evaluating are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you are only able to go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Birmingham AL, verify that the schools you are looking at offer those options. If you can only attend part-time, make certain that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Additionally, find out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Learn More About Birmingham Plumbing Vocational Schools
Enroll in the Best Birmingham Plumber Vocational School
Choosing the right plumbing training program will probably be the most important decision you will make to start your new career. As we have discussed in this article, there are a number of factors that you will need to assess and compare among the schools you are looking at. It's a necessity that any plumbing tech school that you are evaluating includes a good deal of hands-on training. Classes should be small in size and every student must have their personal equipment to train with. Classroom education should offer a real-world frame of reference, and the course of study should be current and conform with industry standards. Training programs vary in length and the kind of credential offered, so you will have to determine what length of program and degree or certificate will best serve your needs. Every training program provides different possibilities for certification as well. Perhaps The ideal means to research your short list of schools is to go to each campus and talk with the students and faculty. Take the time to sit in on some classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the training program you decide on is the best one for you. With the right training, hard work and dedication, you can become a professional plumber in Birmingham AL.