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How to Enroll in the Right Plumber Trade School near Dothan Alabama

Dothan Alabama plumber replacing kitchen faucetThe first step to becoming a plumbing tradesman or contractor is locating a plumbing trade school near Dothan AL. But with numerous 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 variables to examine. For instance, many students will commence by searching for schools that are close to their residence. After they have located several that are within driving range, they will choose the one with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are significant, they are not the only things that need to be considered. Also critical are the accreditation and reputations of the schools, in addition to their job placement and graduation rates. These and other qualifiers should help mold your ultimate judgment when choosing a plumber trade school. We will address that checklist in more detail later in this article. 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 Dothan AL plumber will typically advance through three phases during their professional career.

  • Apprentice. The majority of Dothan 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 Dothan 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 Dothan 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.

What to Ask Plumbing Trade Schools

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Once you have made a decision to obtain a diploma, certificate or degree, you can start to focus your school options. Since there are so many plumbing vocational and trade schools in the Dothan AL area, it's essential to have a checklist of criteria that each program must satisfy. The initial 2 that we mentioned were location and the cost of tuition. And while both qualifiers may be crucial when making your determination, there are additional factors that must be considered as well. Below is a checklist of those added qualifications that you will need to analyze before selecting a plumber trade school.

Is the Plumbing School Accredited?  A large number of plumbing trade schools have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They may receive 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 Dothan AL program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping guarantee that you obtain a superior education, it can assist in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases not available for non-accredited schools. Also, some states require that the plumbing training course 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 vocational 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 don’t know, 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 Dothan 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 portion or percentage of students who enroll in and complete the course. A low completion rate might suggest that students were dissatisfied with the course and dropped out. It may also indicate that the teachers were not qualified to train the students. It's also essential that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader directory of graduates, which may produce more contacts for the school to use for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only confirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of contacts to assist graduates acquire apprenticeships or employment in the Dothan AL area.

Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored?  Numerous plumber training programs are taught together with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating technical and vocational schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of plumbing businesses or labor unions. Ask if the schools you are considering have referring relationships with local Dothan AL plumbers or plumbing specialists. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by supplying practical training, but it also provides job opportunities and helps to build relationships in the local plumbing professional community.

Are there Modern Facilities?  Make sure that the campus facilities and the tools that you will be trained on are state-of-the-art and what you will be using in the field. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the master plumber you are working under concerning what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Dothan AL plumbing contractor if they can provide some suggestions.

Where is the School Located?  Unless you can relocate, the school must be within commuting distance of your Dothan AL home. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to moving 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 monitor some of the classes so that you can see how big they are and experience the interaction between instructors and students. Speak with several of the students and get their comments concerning class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak with some of the teachers and learn what their level of experience is in Dothan AL and what certifications or degrees they have earned.

Is the Class Schedule Convenient?  Make sure that the class schedules for the schools you are evaluating are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Dothan AL, confirm that the schools you are looking at offer those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, be sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Finally, find out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family emergencies.

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Enroll in the Right Dothan Plumbing Trade School

Selecting the right plumber trade school will probably be the most critical decision you will make to begin your new career. As we have covered in this article, there are several factors that you will need to assess and compare among the schools you are reviewing. It's a prerequisite that any plumber training that you are examining includes a good deal of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be smaller in size and each student must have their own equipment to train with. Classroom education should provide a real-world frame of reference, and the training program should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Courses vary in length and the type of credential offered, so you will have to ascertain what length of program and credential will best serve your needs. Every training program provides unique possibilities for certification as well. Probably The ideal means to research your short list of schools is to check out each campus and talk 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 select is the best one for you. With the proper training, effort and dedication, you can become a professional plumber in Dothan AL.