How to Find the Best Plumber Trade 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 so many technical schools to pick from, just how do you undertake making certain that you enroll in the best one? Particularly since there are so many variables to evaluate. For example, many students will commence by looking for schools that are close to their residence. Once they have identified some that are within commuting distance, they will select the one with the lowest tuition. While location and cost are important, they are not the only factors that must be evaluated. Also important are the reputations of the schools, their accreditation, along with their job placement and graduation rates. These and additional qualifications should influence your ultimate judgment when choosing a plumbing trade school. We will talk about that checklist in more detail later in this post. But to begin with, let's talk a little bit about becoming a plumber and the educational choices that are offered.
Becoming 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 ProgramsThere 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 made a decision to earn a diploma, certificate or degree, you can begin to refine your training options. Because there are so many plumbing tech and trade schools in the Decatur AL region, it's imperative to have a checklist of qualifications that each school must meet. The first 2 that we talked about were location and tuition expense. And even though both qualifiers may be critical when making your determination, there are other factors that must be taken into account as well. Following is a checklist of those added qualifiers that you will need to analyze prior to enrolling in a plumber technical school.
Is the Plumbing School Accredited? Numerous plumbing technical programs have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They may earn Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, for example electrical technology. Confirm that the Decatur AL school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping make certain that you acquire an excellent education, it can assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are often unavailable for non-accredited schools. Furthermore, some states require that the plumbing training program be accredited for it to qualify for certification or licensing.
Is the Plumbing School Licensed? In addition to accreditation, an additional way of determining if a vocational school you’re considering 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 don’t know, ask the school which state agency regulates 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 schools you are considering what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and complete the program. A lower completion rate may indicate that students were dissatisfied with the course and dropped out. It could also suggest that the teachers were not qualified to instruct the students. It's similarly imperative that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader directory of graduates, which may result in 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 additionally that it has the network of contacts to help grads obtain apprenticeships or jobs in the Decatur AL area.
Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored? A large number of plumber vocational programs are taught along with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating technical and vocational schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of plumbing companies or labor unions. Check if the schools you are considering have referring partnerships with local Decatur AL plumbers or plumbing professionals. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by supplying hands-on training, but it also supplies employment opportunities and helps to build relationships in the area plumbing professional community.
Are there Modern Facilities? Make certain 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, consult with the master plumber you are working under concerning what you should be expecting. 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 driving distance of your Decatur AL home. Take note that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides the added moving costs there may be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Are there Smaller Classes? It's important that you get as much one-on-one instruction 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 teachers and students. Talk to several of the students and get their feedback concerning class sizes and instruction. Last, talk 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 programs you are evaluating are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Decatur AL, check that the programs you are reviewing provide those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, be sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Finally, find out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
Enroll in the Right Decatur Plumber Trade School
Selecting the right plumber trade school will probably be the most critical decision you will make to launch your new profession. As we have addressed in this article, there are a number of factors that you will need to evaluate and compare among the training programs you are reviewing. It's a prerequisite that any plumbing training that you are assessing includes a lot of hands-on instruction. Classes should be small in size and every 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. Programs differ in length and the type of credential offered, so you will need to decide what length of program and credential will best satisfy your needs. Every training program provides unique possibilities for certification as well. Probably the best approach to research your final list of schools is to go to each campus and speak with the teachers and students. Invest some time to sit in on a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the program you decide on is the right one for you. With the right training, effort and dedication, you can become a professional plumber in Decatur AL.