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How to Enroll in the Right Plumber Training School near Decatur Alabama

Decatur Alabama plumbing contractor repairing sink faucetThe first step to becoming a plumbing contractor or tradesman is locating a plumbing trade school near Decatur AL. But with so many vocational schools to choose from, just how do you approach making certain that you enroll in the ideal one? Particularly since there are so many points to examine. For example, some potential students will start by looking for schools that are nearby their residence. Once they have found some that are within commuting distance, they will select the one with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are significant, they are not the only factors that must be evaluated. Also critical are the reputations of the schools, their accreditation, in addition to their graduation and job placement rates. These and other qualifiers should contribute toward your final judgment when selecting a plumber trade school. We will address that checklist in greater detail later in this article. But first, let's review a little bit about becoming a plumber and the instructional options that are accessible.

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 Decatur AL plumber will typically advance through three phases during their professional career.

  • Apprentice. The majority of Decatur 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 Decatur 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 Programs

There are several educational options available near Decatur 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.

Things to Ask Plumber Training Schools

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Now that you have decided to earn a diploma, certificate or degree, you can begin to narrow down your school options. Since there are so many plumbing vocational and trade schools in the Decatur AL area, it's essential to have a checklist of criteria that each program must meet. The initial two that we mentioned were location and the cost of tuition. And even though both qualifiers may be critical when making your decision, there are other variables that must be considered also. Following is a checklist of those additional qualifications that you will need to analyze prior to choosing a plumber technical school.

Is the Plumbing School Accredited?  Many plumbing trade schools have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They may receive Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, for example electrical technology. Make certain that the Decatur AL program 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 acquire an excellent education, it may assist in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases not available for non-accredited programs. Additionally, some states require that the plumbing training course be accredited in order to qualify for licensing or certification.

Is the Plumbing School Licensed?  Along with accreditation, an additional way of confirming that a vocational school you’re considering is reputable is by checking that it’s properly licensed.  Licensing is typically 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 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 Decatur 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 portion or percentage of students who enroll in and finish the program. A lower completion rate may signify that students were disappointed with the program and quit. It may also indicate that the instructors were not qualified to train the students. It's also imperative that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader directory of alumni, which can mean more contacts for the school to employ for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only confirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of contacts to assist graduates secure apprenticeships or jobs in the Decatur AL area.

Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored?  Many plumber trade programs are taught in conjunction with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating trade and vocational programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of plumbing contractors or labor unions. Check if the schools you are comparing have working partnerships with local Decatur AL plumbers or plumbing companies. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by furnishing hands-on training, but it also furnishes job opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the area plumbing professional community.

Are there Modern Facilities?  Make certain that the school 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 currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the master plumber you are working with regarding what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Decatur AL plumbing contractor if they can provide some tips.

Where is the School Located?  Unless you are able to relocate, the school must be within driving distance of your Decatur AL residence. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there might be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.

Are there Smaller Classes?  It's desirable that you get as much one-on-one instruction as possible, which can be difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a couple of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and instructors. Talk to a few of the students and get their opinions relating to class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk to some of the instructors and find out what their level of experience is in Decatur AL and what certifications or degrees they have earned.

Is the Class Schedule Convenient?  Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are evaluating are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Decatur AL, verify that the programs you are looking at provide those choices. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Finally, check out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family issues.

Find Out More About Decatur Plumber Training Schools

Choose the Best Decatur Plumbing Vocational School

Picking the right plumber trade school will probably be the most critical decision you will make to start your new career. As we have addressed in this article, there are many factors that you will need to evaluate and compare between the training programs you are considering. It's a prerequisite that any plumber tech school that you are assessing includes a good deal of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be small in size and each student must have their personal equipment to train with. Classroom education needs to offer a real-world perspective, and the course of study should be current and conform with industry standards. Programs differ in duration and the kind of credential offered, so you will have to determine what length of program and degree or certificate will best fulfill your needs. Every program provides different options for certification also. Perhaps the best 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 a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the school you choose is the right one for you. With the right training, hard work and dedication, you can become a professional plumber in Decatur AL.