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How to Select the Right Plumbing Training School near Daphne Alabama

Daphne Alabama plumber replacing kitchen sink faucetThe initial step to becoming a plumbing contractor or tradesman is finding a plumbing trade school near Daphne AL. But with so many technical schools to choose from, just how do you approach making sure that you enroll in the right one? Particularly because there are so many variables to consider. For instance, many prospective students will begin by searching for schools that are close to their residence. When they have found a few that are within commuting distance, they will decide on the one with the least expensive tuition. Although location and cost are important, they are not the sole factors that must be examined. Also critical are the reputations of the schools, their accreditation, as well as their graduation and job placement rates. These and other qualifiers should help mold your ultimate decision when selecting a plumbing trade school. We will address that checklist in greater detail later in this article. But to begin with, let's talk a little bit about becoming a plumber and the training options that are available.

What is 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 Daphne AL plumber will typically advance through three phases during their professional career.

  • Apprentice. The majority of Daphne 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 Daphne 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 Programs

There are several educational options available near Daphne 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

Daphne Alabama plumbing contractor replacing water heater

When you have decided to obtain a diploma, certificate or degree, you can begin to focus your school options. Because there are so many plumbing tech and trade schools in the Daphne AL area, it's imperative to have a checklist of qualifications that each school must satisfy. The first 2 that we talked about were location and tuition expense. And even though both qualifiers may be crucial when making your decision, there are other factors that need to be taken into account as well. Below is a checklist of those additional qualifiers that you will need to assess prior to selecting a plumber vocational school.

Is the Plumbing School Accredited?  Numerous plumbing vocational programs have received 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 a specific program, for example electrical technology. Make certain that the Daphne AL program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping make certain that you obtain a superior education, it can help in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. Also, many states mandate that the plumbing training course be accredited in order to qualify for licensing or certification.

Is the Plumbing School Licensed?  Along with 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 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 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 Daphne 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 percentage or portion of students who enroll in and complete the course. A low completion rate may indicate that students were disappointed with the course and quit. It may also indicate that the teachers were not competent to instruct the students. It's similarly important that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader list of alumni, which may result in 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 also that it has the network of contacts to help graduates obtain apprenticeships or employment in the Daphne AL area.

Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored?  Many plumber training programs are taught together with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating vocational and technical programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of plumbing businesses or trade unions. Ask if the schools you are considering have referring partnerships with local Daphne AL plumbers or plumbing professionals. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by supplying hands-on training, but it also supplies job opportunities and helps to build relationships in the local plumbing professional community.

Are there Modern Facilities?  Confirm that the campus facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are up-to-date and what you will be using on the job. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the master plumber you are working with concerning what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Daphne AL plumbing company if they can provide some tips.

Where is the School Located?  Unless you can relocate, the school must be within commuting distance of your Daphne AL home. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added moving costs there can be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.

Are there Smaller Classes?  It's desirable that you get as much individualized instruction as possible, which can be difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor a couple of the classes so that you can see how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and teachers. Talk to a few of the students and get their comments relating to class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak to a few of the instructors and find out what their level of experience is in Daphne 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 handle your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Daphne AL, check that the programs you are comparing offer those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, be sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Finally, ask what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family emergencies.

Find Out More About Daphne Plumber Vocational Schools

Pick the Best Daphne Plumber Trade School

Selecting the best plumber training program will probably be the most critical decision you will make to begin your new trade. As we have discussed in this article, there are several factors that you will need to examine and compare among the schools you are looking at. It's a prerequisite that any plumbing training program that you are evaluating includes a lot of hands-on training. Classes should be small in size and each student must have their own equipment to train with. Classroom teaching needs to provide a real-world frame of reference, and the course of study should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Training programs vary in duration and the type of credential provided, so you will have to determine what length of program and credential will best serve your needs. Each program provides different possibilities for certification also. Perhaps the best approach to research your final list of schools is to check out each campus and speak with the teachers and students. Take the time to sit in on a few classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the program you choose is the ideal one for you. With the proper training, effort and commitment, you can become a professional plumber in Daphne AL.