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How to Enroll in the Best Plumbing Trade School near Decatur Alabama

Decatur Alabama plumbing contractor installing sink faucetThe initial step to learning to be a plumbing contractor or tradesman is finding a plumbing trade school near Decatur AL. But with numerous vocational schools to choose from, just how do you tackle making certain that you enroll in the right one? Particularly because there are a number of factors to examine. For instance, many potential students will start by looking for schools that are nearby their residence. Once they have identified several that are within driving range, they will select the one with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are of importance, they are not the only factors that need to be examined. Also important are the accreditation and reputations of the schools, along with their job placement and graduation rates. These and additional qualifications should contribute toward your ultimate judgment when selecting a plumber training school. We will address that checklist in greater detail later in this post. But to begin with, let's talk a little bit about becoming a plumber and the educational 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 Plumbing Training Schools

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Now that you have made a decision to obtain a certificate, diploma or degree, you can start to narrow down your school options. Because there are numerous plumbing tech and trade schools in the Decatur AL area, it's imperative to have a checklist of qualifications that each program must meet. The first 2 that we discussed were location and the cost of tuition. And while both qualifiers may be crucial when making your determination, there are other factors that must be considered also. Below is a checklist of those added qualifiers that you will need to research prior to enrolling in a plumber technical school.

Is the Plumbing School Accredited?  Many plumbing technical schools have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They may acquire Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, for example electrical technology. Make certain that the Decatur AL program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping ensure that you acquire a superior education, it can assist in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable for non-accredited schools. Additionally, many states require that the plumbing training course be accredited for it to be approved for licensing or certification.

Is the Plumbing School Licensed?  Along with accreditation, an additional way of confirming that a trade school you’re considering is reputable is by making sure that it’s properly licensed.  Licensing is typically controlled and regulated 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 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 considering what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage or portion of students who enroll in and complete the program. A lower completion rate may signify that students were disappointed with the course and quit. It could also suggest that the instructors 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 validate that the school has an excellent reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of contacts to help grads acquire apprenticeships or jobs in the Decatur AL area.

Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored?  Many plumber training programs are taught along with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating vocational and trade schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of plumbing companies or trade unions. Find out if the schools you are comparing have working relationships with local Decatur AL plumbers or plumbing specialists. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by supplying hands-on training, but it also provides employment opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the regional plumbing professional community.

Are there Modern Facilities?  Make sure that the campus facilities and the tools that you will be trained on are state-of-the-art and what you will be using on the job. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the master plumber you are working under regarding what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Decatur AL plumbing company if they can give you some pointers.

Where is the School Located?  Unless you are willing to relocate, the school must be within driving distance of your Decatur AL residence. Remember that if you decide to enroll in 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 important that you receive as much one-on-one instruction as possible, which can be difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor a couple of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and experience the interaction between teachers and students. Speak with some of the students and get their feedback relating to class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak with a few of the teachers and find out what their level of experience is in Decatur AL and what certifications or degrees they hold.

Is the Class Schedule Convenient?  Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are assessing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you are only able to attend classes at night or on weekends near Decatur AL, check that the programs you are comparing provide those choices. If you can only attend part-time, be sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Additionally, check out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family emergencies.

Find Out More About Decatur Plumbing Tech Schools

Enroll in the Right Decatur Plumbing Vocational School

Selecting the right plumbing training program will probably be the most important decision you will make to begin your new profession. As we have discussed in this article, there are a number of factors that you will need to assess and compare between the schools you are considering. It's a must that any plumbing training that you are examining includes a good deal of hands-on training. Classes need to be small in size and each student should have their personal equipment to train with. Classroom instruction should offer a real-world frame of reference, and the curriculum should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Programs differ in length and the type of credential provided, so you will have to ascertain what length of program and credential will best fulfill your needs. Every training program provides unique options for certification also. Perhaps the best means to research your final list of schools is to visit each campus and speak with the students and faculty. Invest some time to sit in on a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the training program you choose is the ideal one for you. With the right training, hard work and commitment, you can become a professional plumber in Decatur AL.