How to Find the Best Plumber Training School near Birmingham Alabama
The first step to learning to be a plumbing contractor or tradesman is locating a plumbing trade school near Birmingham AL. But with so many technical schools to pick from, just how do you undertake making certain that you enroll in the ideal one? Especially since there are a number of variables to examine. For example, many prospective students will begin by searching for schools that are close to their home. Once they have found several that are within commuting distance, they will decide on the one with the most affordable tuition. Even though location and cost are of importance, they are not the only things that must be examined. Also critical are the accreditation and reputations of the schools, as well as their job placement and graduation rates. These and additional qualifiers should influence your ultimate judgment when choosing a plumbing training school. We will discuss that checklist in more detail later in this article. But first, let's review a little bit about becoming a plumber and the instructional options 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 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.
Plumbing Certificate and Degree ProgramsThere 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.
What to Ask Plumbing Technical Schools
Once you have made a decision to earn a diploma, certificate or degree, you can begin to focus your training options. Because there are so many plumbing trade and vocational schools in the Birmingham AL region, it's important to have a checklist of qualifications that each program must meet. The initial two that we talked about were location and the cost of tuition. And while both qualifiers may be important when making your determination, there are other factors that need to be considered as well. Below is a checklist of those additional qualifications that you will need to analyze prior to enrolling in a plumber trade school.
Is the Plumbing School Accredited? Numerous plumbing vocational schools have earned 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 example electrical technology. Confirm that the Birmingham AL school is 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 receive an excellent education, it can assist in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited programs. Furthermore, some states mandate that the plumbing training program be accredited in order to be approved for licensing or certification.
Is the Plumbing School Licensed? In addition to accreditation, another way of determining if a vocational 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’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 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 looking at what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students who enroll in and complete the course. A low completion rate may signify that students were unhappy with the program and dropped out. It could also mean that the teachers were not competent to instruct the students. It's similarly imperative that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive directory of graduates, which may 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 assist students secure apprenticeships or jobs in the Birmingham AL area.
Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored? Numerous plumber technical programs are taught in conjunction 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 companies or trade unions. Find out if the schools you are considering have working relationships with local Birmingham AL plumbers or plumbing companies. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by furnishing practical training, but it also furnishes employment opportunities and helps to form relationships in the local plumbing professional community.
Are there Modern Facilities? Make sure that the campus facilities and the tools that you will be trained on are up-to-date and what you will be working with in the field. If you are presently 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 Birmingham AL plumbing company if they can give you some pointers.
Where is the School Located? Unless you are able to move, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Birmingham AL home. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added moving costs there may be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Are there Smaller Classes? It's important that you get as much one-on-one training as possible, which can be difficult 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 students and instructors. Speak with some of the students and get their comments relating to class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk with a few of the teachers and find out what their level of experience is in Birmingham AL and what certifications or degrees they hold.
Is the Class Schedule Convenient? Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Birmingham AL, check that the schools you are reviewing 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, check out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
Choose the Best Birmingham Plumber Training School
Choosing the right plumbing training program will undoubtedly be the most important decision you will make to start your new trade. As we have discussed in this article, there are many factors that you will need to evaluate and compare between the schools you are considering. It's a prerequisite that any plumbing training program that you are reviewing includes a considerable amount of hands-on training. Classes need to be small in size and every student must have their personal equipment to train with. Classroom education needs to provide a real-world context, and the training program should be current and conform with industry standards. Programs vary in duration and the type of credential offered, so you will have to determine what length of program and degree or certificate will best serve your needs. Every program offers unique possibilities for certification as well. Perhaps the best means to research your final list of schools is to visit each campus and talk with the students and instructors. Invest some time to sit in on some classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the training program you choose is the right one for you. With the proper training, effort and commitment, you can become a professional plumber in Birmingham AL.