How to Enroll in the Right Plumber Vocational School near Decatur Alabama
The initial step to learning to be a plumbing contractor or tradesman is locating a plumbing trade school near Decatur 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 a number of variables to evaluate. For instance, some students will begin by looking for schools that are close to their residence. After they have located several that are within driving distance, they will pick the one with the lowest tuition. While cost and location are significant, they are not the only things that need to be considered. Also critical are the accreditation and reputations of the schools, in addition to their job placement and graduation rates. These and other qualifiers should contribute toward your ultimate decision when selecting a plumbing 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 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 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 Certificate and Degree 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.
Points to Ask Plumber Vocational Schools
When you have decided to obtain a diploma, certificate or degree, you can begin to refine your school options. Considering that 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 school must satisfy. The first two that we discussed were location and the cost of tuition. And although both qualifiers may be critical when making your decision, there are additional variables that must be considered also. Following is a checklist of those added qualifiers that you will need to assess prior to choosing a plumber technical school.
Is the Plumbing School Accredited? A large number of plumbing vocational schools have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They may receive Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, for example electrical technology. Make sure that the Decatur AL school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping make certain that you obtain a quality education, it can help in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable for non-accredited schools. Also, some states mandate that the plumbing training program be accredited in order to qualify for certification or licensing.
Is the Plumbing School Licensed? Along with accreditation, another way of determining if 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 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 schools 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 could suggest that students were dissatisfied with the program and quit. It could also suggest that the instructors 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 directory of alumni, which can produce more contacts for the school to use 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 trade, but also that it has the network of contacts to assist graduates acquire apprenticeships or jobs in the Decatur AL area.
Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored? Many plumber vocational programs are taught in conjunction with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating vocational and trade programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of plumbing companies or trade unions. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have referring partnerships with local Decatur AL plumbers or plumbing specialists. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by furnishing practical training, but it also furnishes job opportunities and helps to build relationships in the local plumbing professional community.
Are there Modern Facilities? Make sure that the campus facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are state-of-the-art and what you will be working with on the job. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the master plumber you are working with regarding what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Decatur AL plumbing contractor if they can give you some suggestions.
Where is the School Located? Unless you are willing to relocate, the school must be within commuting distance of your Decatur AL residence. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added moving costs there might be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Are there Smaller Classes? It's important that you receive as much personalized instruction as possible, which can be difficult in larger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a few of the classes so that you can see how big they are and experience the interaction between students and teachers. Speak with several of the students and get their opinions concerning class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak with a few of the instructors 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 schools you are reviewing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Decatur AL, confirm that the schools you are considering offer those options. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Right Decatur Plumbing Trade School
Choosing the ideal plumber trade school will undoubtedly be the most critical decision you will make to begin your new trade. As we have covered in this article, there are many things that you will need to examine and compare among the training programs you are considering. It's a must that any plumbing training that you are considering includes a lot of hands-on training. Classes need to be small in size and each student must have their personal equipment to train with. Classroom teaching needs to provide a real-world perspective, and the course of study should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Programs differ in length and the type of credential offered, so you will have to determine what length of program and degree or certificate will best fulfill your needs. Every program offers unique possibilities for certification also. Probably the best way to research your short list of schools is to visit each campus and speak with the students and instructors. Invest some time to attend a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the program you select is the ideal one for you. With the right training, effort and dedication, you can become a professional plumber in Decatur AL.