How to Pick the Right Plumbing Training Course near Decatur Alabama
The initial step to learning to be a plumbing contractor or tradesman is finding a plumbing trade school near Decatur AL. But with so many vocational schools to pick from, just how do you tackle making sure that you enroll in the right one? Especially because there are so many points to consider. For instance, many prospective students will start by searching for schools that are close to their residence. Once they have identified some that are within commuting distance, they will choose the one with the lowest tuition. Even though cost and location are of importance, they are not the only things that must be evaluated. Also important are the accreditation and reputations of the schools, along with their job placement and graduation rates. These and additional qualifiers should influence your ultimate judgment when choosing a plumbing training school. We will discuss that checklist in greater detail later in this article. But to begin with, let's review a little bit about becoming a plumber and the training choices that are offered.
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.
Plumbing 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.
Topics to Ask Plumber Technical Schools
Now that you have made a decision to earn a certificate, diploma or degree, you can begin to refine your training options. Considering that there are numerous plumbing trade and vocational schools in the Decatur AL region, it's imperative to have a checklist of criteria that each program must satisfy. The first 2 that we talked about were location and the cost of tuition. And although both qualifiers may be crucial when making your selection, there are other factors that need to be taken into account as well. Below is a checklist of those additional qualifications that you will need to assess prior to selecting a plumber vocational school.
Is the Plumbing School Accredited? Many plumbing vocational programs have received 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 a specific program, for instance electrical technology. Make certain that the Decatur AL program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting agency, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping make certain that you acquire an excellent education, it may help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases not available for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of 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 vocational school you’re reiewing is reputable is by checking that it’s properly licensed. Licensing is typically 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 training programs you are considering what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage or portion of students who enroll in and finish the program. A low completion rate may indicate that students were dissatisfied with the course and dropped out. It might 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 more extensive directory of graduates, which may produce 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 a good reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of contacts to help students obtain apprenticeships or jobs in the Decatur AL area.
Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored? Most plumber training programs are taught together with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating trade and vocational schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of plumbing businesses or trade unions. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have referring partnerships with local Decatur AL plumbers or plumbing companies. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by furnishing hands-on training, but it also provides employment opportunities and helps to build 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 state-of-the-art and what you will be working with on the job. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the master plumber you are working with regarding what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Decatur AL plumbing contracting company if they can provide some suggestions.
Where is the School Located? Unless you can relocate, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Decatur AL residence. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added moving costs there might be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Are there Smaller Classes? It's important that you get as much personalized instruction as possible, which can be difficult 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 witness first hand the interaction between teachers and students. Talk with a few of the students and get their feedback concerning class sizes and instruction. Last, speak with some 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 fulfill 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 options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, 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 due to work, sickness or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Best Decatur Plumbing Vocational School
Picking the ideal plumber trade school will probably be the most critical decision you will make to begin your new career. As we have discussed in this article, there are many things that you will need to assess and compare between the training programs you are looking at. It's a must that any plumber tech school that you are examining includes a good deal of hands-on training. Classes need to be smaller in size and every student should have their personal equipment to train with. Classroom instruction needs to offer a real-world frame of reference, and the course of study should be current and in-line with industry standards. Courses differ in duration and the type of credential provided, so you will need to determine what length of program and degree or certificate will best satisfy your needs. Each program provides different options for certification as well. Perhaps The ideal approach to research your final list of schools is to go to each campus and talk with the students and instructors. Take the time to attend a few classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the school you select is the right one for you. With the proper training, effort and dedication, you can become a professional plumber in Decatur AL.