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How to Select the Right Plumbing Training School near Decatur Alabama

Decatur Alabama plumbing contractor installing kitchen faucetThe first step to learning to be a plumbing contractor or tradesman is finding a plumbing trade school near Decatur AL. But with so many technical schools to pick from, just how do you go about making certain that you enroll in the best one? Especially because there are a number of variables to examine. For instance, many students will start by searching for schools that are close to their residence. Once they have identified several that are within driving distance, they will select the one with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are important, they are not the sole qualifications that need to be examined. Also critical are the reputations of the schools, their accreditation, along with their job placement and graduation rates. These and additional qualifiers should influence your final decision when selecting a plumber training school. We will discuss that checklist in greater detail later in this article. But first, 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 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 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.

Points to Ask Plumber Training Schools

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When you have decided to earn a certificate, diploma or degree, you can begin to focus your school options. Because there are so many plumbing vocational and trade schools in the Decatur AL area, it's essential to have a checklist of qualifications that each school must meet. The first 2 that we mentioned were location and the cost of tuition. And even though both qualifiers may be critical when making your determination, there are other factors that need to be taken into account as well. Below is a checklist of those added qualifications that you will need to analyze prior to selecting a plumber technical school.

Is the Plumbing School Accredited?  Many plumbing technical schools have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They can earn Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, for example electrical technology. Verify that the Decatur AL program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping guarantee that you get a superior education, it may help in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited schools. Furthermore, some states require that the plumbing training course be accredited for it to qualify for certification or licensing.

Is the Plumbing School Licensed?  Along with accreditation, another way of confirming that a trade school you’re reiewing 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 of students who enroll in and complete the course. A low completion rate could indicate that students were unhappy with the program and quit. It may also indicate that the instructors were not qualified to train the students. It's also important that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader list of alumni, which may produce more contacts for the school to employ for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only affirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of contacts to help students acquire apprenticeships or jobs in the Decatur AL area.

Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored?  Many plumber technical 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 inside their network of plumbing contractors or trade unions. Ask if the schools you are comparing have referring relationships with local Decatur AL plumbers or plumbing professionals. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by providing practical training, but it also provides employment opportunities and helps to form relationships in the regional plumbing professional community.

Are there Modern Facilities?  Confirm that the school facilities and the tools that you will be trained on are up-to-date and what you will be using in the field. If you are presently 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 Decatur AL plumbing contracting company if they can provide some suggestions.

Where is the School Located?  Unless you are able to move, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Decatur AL residence. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there can be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.

Are there Smaller Classes?  It's important that you receive as much personalized training as possible, which can be challenging in larger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a few of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and experience the interaction between students and instructors. Speak with several of the students and get their comments concerning class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk to a few of the teachers and learn what their level of experience is in Decatur AL and what degrees or certifications they have earned.

Is the Class Schedule Convenient?  Make sure that the class schedules for the schools you are assessing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Decatur AL, verify that the schools you are considering offer those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family responsibilities.

Learn More About Decatur Plumbing Training Schools

Enroll in the Best Decatur Plumber Trade School

Picking the ideal plumber training program will probably be the most critical decision you will make to begin your new trade. As we have addressed in this article, there are several factors that you will need to evaluate and compare among the training programs you are considering. It's a prerequisite that any plumber tech school that you are assessing includes a lot of hands-on training. Classes need to be small in size and each student should have their personal equipment to train with. Classroom teaching should offer a real-world frame of reference, and the course of study should be current and conform with industry standards. Courses differ in duration and the kind of credential provided, so you will need to decide what length of program and credential will best fulfill your needs. Every training program offers different options for certification also. Probably the best approach to research your short list of schools is to check out each campus and talk with the students and faculty. Take the time to attend a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the school you pick is the ideal one for you. With the proper training, effort and commitment, you can become a professional plumber in Decatur AL.