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How to Choose the Right Plumber Technical School near Birmingham Alabama

Birmingham Alabama plumber installing kitchen sink faucetThe initial step to learning to be a plumbing contractor or tradesman is enrolling in a plumbing trade school near Birmingham AL. But with so many vocational schools to choose from, just how do you undertake making sure that you enroll in the ideal one? Particularly since there are a number of factors to evaluate. For example, many students will begin by looking for schools that are nearby their home. After they have identified several that are within commuting range, they will choose the one with the least expensive tuition. While cost and location are of importance, they are not the only qualifications that must be considered. Also critical are the reputations of the schools, their accreditation, along with their graduation and job placement rates. These and additional qualifications should influence your final decision when choosing a plumber trade school. We will address that checklist in greater detail later in this post. But to begin with, let's review a little bit about becoming a plumber and the educational choices that are available.

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 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 Certificate and Degree Options

There 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 Vocational Schools

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When you have decided to obtain a certificate, diploma or degree, you can begin to narrow down your training options. Since there are numerous plumbing vocational and trade schools in the Birmingham AL area, it's important to have a checklist of qualifications that each school must satisfy. The initial 2 that we mentioned were location and tuition expense. And although both qualifiers may be important when making your decision, there are additional factors that must be considered also. Below is a checklist of those added qualifications that you will need to research before choosing a plumber trade school.

Is the Plumbing School Accredited?  Numerous plumbing vocational programs have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They can attain Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, for instance electrical technology. Make sure that the Birmingham AL school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping make certain that you receive a superior education, it can assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are frequently unavailable for non-accredited programs. Furthermore, a number of states mandate that the plumbing training course be accredited in order to be approved for licensing or certification.

Is the Plumbing School Licensed?  In addition to accreditation, another way of confirming that a trade school you’re considering is reputable is by making sure that it’s properly licensed.  Licensing is usually controlled and regulated by state agencies, such as the Alabama Department of Education.  If you’re not sure, 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 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 reviewing what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and complete the program. A lower completion rate might signify that students were dissatisfied with the course and quit. It could also signify that the instructors were not qualified to train the students. It's also essential that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive list of alumni, 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 additionally that it has the network of contacts to assist graduates acquire apprenticeships or employment in the Birmingham AL area.

Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored?  A large number of plumber trade programs are taught along with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating trade and technical programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of plumbing contractors or trade unions. Check if the schools you are comparing have referring partnerships with local Birmingham AL plumbers or plumbing companies. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by supplying hands-on training, but it also supplies job opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the area plumbing professional community.

Are there Modern Facilities?  Make certain that the campus 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 presently 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 tips.

Where is the School Located?  Unless you are able to move, the school must be within driving distance of your Birmingham AL residence. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides the added moving costs there can be increased tuition charges compared to in-state residents.

Are there Smaller Classes?  It's important that you get as much personalized training as possible, which can be difficult in larger classes. Ask if you can sit in on some of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between instructors and students. Speak to several of the students and get their feedback regarding class sizes and instruction. Last, speak to some of the teachers and learn what their level of experience is in Birmingham AL and what certifications or degrees they have earned.

Is the Class Schedule Convenient?  Confirm that the class schedules for the schools you are assessing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Birmingham AL, check that the programs you are looking at provide those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, be sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Finally, ask what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family emergencies.

Learn More About Birmingham Plumber Trade Schools

Choose the Best Birmingham Plumber Trade School

Choosing the ideal plumbing training program will undoubtedly be the most critical decision you will make to begin your new career. As we have addressed in this article, there are several factors that you will need to evaluate and compare between the training programs you are looking at. It's a necessity that any plumbing tech school that you are examining includes a good deal of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be small in size and every student must have their own equipment to train with. Classroom education needs to offer a real-world context, and the training program should be current and conform with industry standards. Courses vary in length and the type of credential provided, so you will have to determine what length of program and degree or certificate will best satisfy your needs. Every training program offers unique possibilities for certification also. Perhaps The ideal way to research your final list of schools is to visit each campus and talk with the teachers and students. Invest some time to sit in on a few classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the training program you pick is the right one for you. With the proper training, effort and dedication, you can become a professional plumber in Birmingham AL.