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How to Pick the Best Plumbing Vocational School near Decatur Alabama

Decatur Alabama plumbing contractor replacing sink faucetThe initial step to learning to be a plumbing contractor or tradesman is enrolling in a plumbing trade school near Decatur AL. But with so many technical schools to select from, just how do you tackle making sure that you enroll in the best one? Particularly since there are so many variables to evaluate. For instance, some potential students will begin by looking for schools that are close to their home. When they have located some that are within driving range, they will choose the one with the least expensive tuition. Even though cost and location are important, they are not the only qualifications that need to be examined. Also important are the accreditation and reputations of the schools, in addition to their graduation and job placement rates. These and other qualifications should contribute toward your final judgment when picking a plumbing training school. We will discuss that checklist in more detail later in this article. But first, let's review a little bit about becoming a plumber and the educational choices that are offered.

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 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

Decatur Alabama plumbing contractor installing water heater

Once you have made a decision to obtain a certificate, diploma or degree, you can begin to refine 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 qualifications that each school must satisfy. The first two that we talked about were location and tuition expense. And while both qualifiers may be critical when making your decision, there are other factors that must be taken into account as well. Following is a checklist of those additional qualifiers that you will need to analyze prior to enrolling in a plumber tech school.

Is the Plumbing School Accredited?  Numerous plumbing trade programs have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They can attain Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, such as electrical technology. Verify 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. In addition to helping ensure that you obtain a quality education, it can help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. Furthermore, many states mandate that the plumbing training program be accredited in order to be approved for licensing or certification.

Is the Plumbing School Licensed?  Along with accreditation, another way of confirming that a trade school you’re considering 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’re not sure, ask the school which state agency is responsible for 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 looking at what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage or portion of students who enroll in and finish the course. A lower completion rate might suggest that students were unhappy with the course and dropped out. It may also signify that the teachers were not competent to train the students. It's also essential that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader list of graduates, which may mean more contacts for the school to utilize for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only affirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of contacts to help grads secure apprenticeships or employment in the Decatur AL area.

Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored?  Most plumber technical programs are taught along with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating trade and technical schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of plumbing contractors or labor unions. Find out if the schools you are considering have working relationships with local Decatur AL plumbers or plumbing contractors. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by furnishing practical training, but it also provides employment opportunities and helps to form 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 up-to-date and what you will be working with in the field. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the master plumber you are working with concerning what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Decatur AL plumbing contractor if they can give you some tips.

Where is the School Located?  Unless you are able to move, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Decatur AL home. Take note that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there might be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.

Are there Smaller Classes?  It's desirable that you receive as much individualized training as possible, which can be challenging in bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a couple of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and teachers. Speak to some of the students and get their feedback concerning class sizes and instruction. Last, speak with some of the teachers and learn what their level of experience is in Decatur AL and what certifications or degrees they have earned.

Is the Class Schedule Convenient?  Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are evaluating are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you are only able to go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Decatur AL, check that the programs you are reviewing offer those choices. If you can only attend part-time, be sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Additionally, ask what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family emergencies.

Find Out More About Decatur Plumber Vocational Schools

Choose the Best Decatur Plumbing Training School

Selecting the best plumber training program will undoubtedly be the most critical decision you will make to start your new profession. As we have discussed in this article, there are a number of things that you will need to assess and compare among the schools you are reviewing. It's a must that any plumbing training program that you are reviewing includes a considerable amount of hands-on instruction. Classes should be smaller 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 in-line with industry standards. Training programs vary in duration and the type of credential provided, so you will have to determine what length of program and degree or certificate will best serve your needs. Every training program offers different possibilities for certification also. Probably The ideal approach to research your final list of schools is to go to each campus and speak with the students and instructors. Take the time to monitor a few classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the training program you pick is the right one for you. With the right training, hard work and commitment, you can become a professional plumber in Decatur AL.