How to Select the Right Plumbing Technical School near Decatur Alabama
The initial step to learning to be a plumbing contractor or tradesman is enrolling in a plumbing trade school near Decatur AL. But with numerous vocational schools to choose from, just how do you go about making sure that you enroll in the right one? Especially because there are a number of factors to evaluate. For instance, many prospective students will start by looking for schools that are nearby their residence. When they have located several that are within commuting range, they will select the one with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are important, they are not the only qualifications that should be examined. Also critical are the reputations of the schools, their accreditation, as well as their job placement and graduation rates. These and other qualifications should influence your final decision when picking a plumbing training school. We will discuss that checklist in more detail later in this post. But first, let's talk a little bit about becoming a plumber and the instructional choices 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 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.
Plumber Degree and Certificate OptionsThere 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.
Questions to Ask Plumbing Tech Schools
When you have made a decision to earn a certificate, diploma or degree, you can start to focus your school options. Since there are so many plumbing vocational and trade schools in the Decatur AL region, it's important to have a checklist of criteria that each program must meet. The first two that we talked about were location and the cost of tuition. And while both qualifiers may be critical when making your determination, there are additional factors that need to be taken into account as well. Below is a checklist of those added qualifiers that you will need to assess prior to enrolling in a plumber technical school.
Is the Plumbing School Accredited? A large number of plumbing vocational programs have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They may earn Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, for instance electrical technology. Make certain that the Decatur AL school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting agency, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping make certain that you obtain a superior education, it may assist in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases not available for non-accredited programs. Furthermore, a number of states require that the plumbing training program be accredited for it to qualify for licensing or certification.
Is the Plumbing School Licensed? In addition to accreditation, an additional way of confirming that a vocational school you’re reiewing is reputable is by checking that it’s properly licensed. Licensing is usually 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 percentage or portion of students who enroll in and complete the course. A low completion rate might signify that students were dissatisfied with the program and dropped out. It could also mean that the teachers were not competent to train the students. It's similarly imperative that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive directory of alumni, which can result in more contacts for the school to employ 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 industry, but additionally that it has the network of contacts to assist graduates obtain apprenticeships or employment in the Decatur AL area.
Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored? Numerous plumber vocational programs are taught in conjunction 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 contractors or labor unions. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have referring relationships with local Decatur AL plumbers or plumbing specialists. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by providing practical training, but it also furnishes job opportunities and helps to build relationships in the regional plumbing professional community.
Are there Modern Facilities? Make certain that the campus facilities and the tools that you will be instructed 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 concerning what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Decatur AL plumbing contracting company if they can provide some suggestions.
Where is the School Located? Unless you are willing to move, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Decatur AL home. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there can be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Are there Smaller Classes? It's important that you receive as much individualized instruction as possible, which can be challenging in larger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a couple of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and experience the interaction between students and teachers. Talk to several of the students and get their opinions relating to class sizes and instruction. Last, talk to a few of the teachers and find out what their level of experience is in Decatur AL and what degrees or certifications they hold.
Is the Class Schedule Convenient? Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are reviewing are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you are only able to attend classes at night or on weekends near Decatur AL, check that the programs you are considering provide those choices. If you can only attend part-time, make certain that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, check out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Learn More About Decatur Plumber Trade Schools
Enroll in the Right Decatur Plumbing Training School
Picking the best plumbing training program will undoubtedly be the most critical decision you will make to begin your new trade. As we have covered in this article, there are a number of factors that you will need to examine and compare between the training programs you are looking at. It's a prerequisite that any plumbing training that you are assessing includes a considerable amount of hands-on training. Classes should be small in size and each student should have their own equipment to train with. Classroom teaching should offer a real-world frame of reference, and the training program should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Training programs differ in length and the kind of credential provided, so you will have to decide what length of program and certificate or degree will best serve your needs. Each training program provides different options for certification also. Perhaps the best approach to research your final list of schools is to go to each campus and talk with the students and faculty. Take the time to monitor some classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the school you decide on is the ideal one for you. With the proper training, effort and commitment, you can become a professional plumber in Decatur AL.