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How to Select the Best Plumbing School near Dothan Alabama

Dothan Alabama plumber installing sink faucetThe initial step to learning to be a plumbing contractor or tradesman is enrolling in a plumbing trade school near Dothan AL. But with so many technical schools to choose from, just how do you tackle making sure that you enroll in the right one? Especially because there are a number of factors to consider. For example, some students will begin by looking for schools that are nearby their home. Once they have located a few that are within commuting range, they will decide on the one with the most affordable tuition. Even though cost and location are significant, they are not the sole qualifications that should be evaluated. Also critical are the accreditation and reputations of the schools, as well as their graduation and job placement rates. These and other qualifiers should influence your ultimate judgment when choosing a plumber trade school. We will address that checklist in greater detail later in this post. But first, let's review a little bit about becoming a plumber and the educational options that are accessible.

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 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.

Plumbing 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.

Points to Ask Plumber Tech Schools

Dothan Alabama plumber replacing hot water heater

Now that you have made a decision to obtain a diploma, certificate or degree, you can start to refine your school options. Because there are so many plumbing trade and vocational schools in the Dothan AL region, it's imperative to have a checklist of qualifications that each school must satisfy. The initial two that we talked about were location and the cost of tuition. And while both qualifiers may be crucial when making your determination, there are other variables that need to be taken into account also. Following is a checklist of those additional qualifiers that you will need to research before selecting a plumber technical school.

Is the Plumbing School Accredited?  A large number of plumbing trade schools have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They can attain Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, such as electrical technology. Make certain that the Dothan AL program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting agency, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping make certain that you get an excellent education, it can help in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited schools. Furthermore, a number of states require that the plumbing training course be accredited in order to be approved for licensing or certification.

Is the Plumbing School Licensed?  In addition to accreditation, another 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 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 percentage of students who enroll in and complete the course. A lower completion rate may suggest that students were disappointed with the course and quit. It may also mean that the instructors were not competent to train the students. It's similarly 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 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 field, but also that it has the network of contacts to assist grads acquire apprenticeships or jobs in the Dothan AL area.

Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored?  Most plumber vocational programs are taught along with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating vocational and trade schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of plumbing contractors or labor unions. Find out if the schools you are considering have referring partnerships with local Dothan AL plumbers or plumbing specialists. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by furnishing hands-on training, but it also furnishes employment opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the area plumbing professional community.

Are there Modern Facilities?  Make sure that the school facilities and the tools that you will be trained on are up-to-date and what you will be using on the job. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the master plumber you are working with concerning what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Dothan AL plumbing company if they can provide some tips.

Where is the School Located?  Unless you are willing to relocate, the school must be within driving distance of your Dothan AL residence. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there might be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.

Are there Smaller Classes?  It's important that you get as much personalized training as possible, which can be difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a couple of the classes so that you can see how large they are and experience the interaction between students and instructors. Talk with some of the students and get their comments concerning class sizes and instruction. Last, speak with a few 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?  Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are evaluating are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you are only able to attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Dothan AL, confirm that the schools you are comparing provide those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family issues.

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Pick the Best Dothan Plumber Training School

Choosing the ideal plumbing training program will undoubtedly be the most important decision you will make to start your new career. As we have covered in this article, there are several factors that you will need to evaluate and compare between the schools you are considering. It's a prerequisite that any plumber tech school that you are considering includes a good deal of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be smaller in size and every student should have their personal equipment to train with. Classroom education should provide a real-world context, and the training program should be current and conform with industry standards. Courses vary in duration and the type of credential provided, so you will need to ascertain what length of program and credential will best fulfill your needs. Every program offers unique options for certification also. Perhaps The ideal approach to research your short list of schools is to go to each campus and speak with the faculty and students. Take the time to sit in on some classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the training program you select is the best one for you. With the right training, hard work and commitment, you can become a professional plumber in Dothan AL.