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How to Pick the Right Plumbing Training near Decatur Alabama

Decatur Alabama plumbing contractor fixing kitchen sink faucetThe initial step to learning to be a plumbing contractor or tradesman is locating a plumbing trade school near Decatur AL. But with numerous vocational schools to pick from, just how do you go about making certain that you enroll in the ideal one? Particularly because there are so many variables to examine. For example, some potential students will commence by looking for schools that are close to their residence. Once they have located some that are within driving distance, they will choose the one with the cheapest tuition. While cost and location are important, they are not the only things that should be examined. Also important are the accreditation and reputations of the schools, as well as their graduation and job placement rates. These and other qualifications should influence your final decision when selecting a plumber training school. We will discuss that checklist in more detail later in this post. But first, let's talk a little bit about becoming a plumber and the training choices that are available.

Becoming 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 Certificate and Degree 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 Technical Schools

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Once you have decided to obtain a certificate, diploma or degree, you can begin to refine your training options. Since there are so many plumbing tech and trade schools in the Decatur AL area, it's imperative to have a checklist of qualifications that each school must satisfy. The initial 2 that we mentioned were location and the cost of tuition. And although both qualifiers may be crucial when making your determination, there are other factors that need to be taken into account as well. Following is a checklist of those added qualifications that you will need to assess before choosing a plumber tech school.

Is the Plumbing School Accredited?  A large number of plumbing trade programs have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They can attain Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, for instance electrical technology. Verify that the Decatur AL school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping make certain that you receive a quality education, it may help in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are often unavailable for non-accredited programs. Also, many states require that the plumbing training program be accredited in order to be approved for certification or licensing.

Is the Plumbing School Licensed?  In addition to accreditation, another way of determining if a trade school you’re reiewing 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 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 looking at what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage or portion of students who enroll in and complete the program. A low completion rate might indicate that students were dissatisfied with the program and dropped out. It may also mean that the teachers were not competent to train the students. It's also important that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive directory of graduates, which can produce more contacts for the school to employ for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only validate that the school has a good reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of contacts to assist graduates obtain apprenticeships or jobs in the Decatur AL area.

Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored?  Most plumber trade programs are taught along 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 companies or labor unions. Find out if the schools you are considering have working partnerships with local Decatur AL plumbers or plumbing contractors. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by furnishing practical training, but it also provides employment opportunities and helps to form relationships in the area 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 currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the master plumber you are working with regarding what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Decatur AL plumbing contractor if they can provide some suggestions.

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

Are there Smaller Classes?  It's important that you receive 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 students and instructors. Speak with several of the students and get their opinions concerning class sizes and instruction. Last, speak to some of the teachers and find out what their level of experience is in Decatur AL and what degrees or certifications they have earned.

Is the Class Schedule Convenient?  Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are assessing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Decatur AL, confirm that the schools you are comparing offer those choices. If you can only attend part-time, be sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family issues.

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Enroll in the Right Decatur Plumber Trade School

Choosing the right plumbing trade school will undoubtedly be the most important decision you will make to begin your new profession. As we have addressed 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 necessity that any plumbing tech school that you are assessing includes a good deal of hands-on training. Classes should be smaller in size and each student should have their own equipment to train with. Classroom education needs to offer a real-world frame of reference, and the course of study should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Programs differ in length and the kind of credential offered, so you will have to determine what length of program and degree or certificate will best satisfy your needs. Each training program provides unique options for certification also. Perhaps the best way to research your short list of schools is to check out each campus and talk with the teachers and students. Invest some time to attend a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the program you decide on is the best one for you. With the right training, hard work and dedication, you can become a professional plumber in Decatur AL.