How to Select the Best Plumber Technical School near Birmingham Alabama
The initial step to learning to be a plumbing contractor or tradesman is locating a plumbing trade school near Birmingham AL. But with numerous vocational schools to select from, just how do you go about making certain that you enroll in the best one? Especially because there are so many variables to evaluate. For instance, some prospective students will start by looking for schools that are close to their residence. After they have found a few that are within commuting distance, they will select the one with the least expensive tuition. While cost and location are significant, they are not the only things that must be evaluated. Also important are the reputations of the schools, their accreditation, along with their graduation and job placement rates. These and other qualifications should contribute toward your final decision when picking a plumbing trade school. We will talk about that checklist in more detail later in this post. But to begin with, let's review a little bit about becoming a plumber and the training options that are accessible.
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 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.
Questions to Ask Plumber Vocational Schools
Now that you have decided to obtain a diploma, certificate or degree, you can begin to focus your training options. Considering that there are so many plumbing vocational and trade schools in the Birmingham AL area, it's essential to have a checklist of qualifications that each program must satisfy. The initial two that we mentioned were location and the cost of tuition. And while both qualifiers may be critical when making your selection, there are other factors that need to be considered also. Following is a checklist of those additional qualifiers that you will need to assess before selecting a plumber tech school.
Is the Plumbing School Accredited? Numerous plumbing vocational schools have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They may attain Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, such as electrical technology. Make sure that the Birmingham AL school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting agency, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping ensure that you get a superior education, it can assist in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited schools. Also, many states require that the plumbing training course be accredited in order to qualify 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 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 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 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 lower completion rate may suggest that students were dissatisfied with the program and quit. It might also suggest that the teachers were not competent to instruct the students. It's similarly imperative that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader list of graduates, which may result in more contacts for the school to utilize for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only affirm that the school has a good reputation within the trade, but additionally that it has the network of contacts to help grads secure apprenticeships or jobs in the Birmingham AL area.
Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored? Many plumber trade programs are taught together with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating trade and vocational programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of plumbing businesses or labor unions. Ask if the schools you are considering have referring partnerships with local Birmingham AL plumbers or plumbing specialists. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by supplying hands-on training, but it also provides employment opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the local plumbing professional community.
Are there Modern Facilities? Confirm 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 on the job. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the master plumber you are working with concerning what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Birmingham AL plumbing contracting company if they can give you some suggestions.
Where is the School Located? Unless you can move, the school must be within driving distance of your Birmingham AL residence. Take note that if you decide to attend 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 desirable that you receive as much individualized training as possible, which can be challenging in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor a couple of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and experience the interaction between teachers and students. Talk to a few of the students and get their comments relating to class sizes and instruction. Last, talk to some of the instructors 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 schools you are reviewing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you are only able to go to classes at night or on weekends near Birmingham AL, check that the schools you are considering offer those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Additionally, ask what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family issues.
Choose the Best Birmingham Plumber Trade School
Selecting the right plumbing training program will undoubtedly be the most critical decision you will make to launch your new career. As we have addressed in this article, there are a number of things that you will need to evaluate and compare among the training programs you are considering. It's a necessity that any plumber training that you are assessing includes a considerable amount of hands-on training. Classes need to be smaller in size and each student must have their own equipment to train with. Classroom instruction should offer a real-world context, and the curriculum should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Courses vary in duration and the kind of credential offered, so you will need to determine what length of program and credential will best serve your needs. Every program offers different options for certification also. Perhaps The ideal way to research your final list of schools is to check out each campus and speak with the students and instructors. Take the time to sit in on some classes. Inspect 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, effort and dedication, you can become a professional plumber in Birmingham AL.