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How to Select the Best Plumbing Training Course near Dothan Alabama

Dothan Alabama plumbing contractor fixing sink faucetThe initial step to learning to be a plumbing contractor or tradesman is finding a plumbing trade school near Dothan AL. But with numerous vocational schools to pick from, just how do you approach making certain that you enroll in the ideal one? Particularly because there are so many variables to evaluate. For example, many potential students will start by searching for schools that are close to their home. After they have found a few that are within commuting distance, they will choose the one with the least expensive tuition. Even though cost and location are of importance, they are not the only qualifications that need to be examined. Also critical are the reputations of the schools, their accreditation, as well as their job placement and graduation rates. These and additional qualifiers should contribute toward your ultimate decision when choosing a plumber trade school. We will discuss that checklist in more detail later in this article. But first, let's talk a little bit about becoming a plumber and the training options that are offered.

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 Options

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 Training Schools

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When you have decided to obtain a diploma, certificate or degree, you can start to refine your school options. Since there are numerous plumbing trade and vocational schools in the Dothan AL area, it's important to have a checklist of criteria that each school must meet. The first two that we discussed were location and the cost of tuition. And even though both qualifiers may be important when making your determination, there are other factors that need to be taken into account also. Below is a checklist of those added qualifications that you will need to assess before choosing a plumber tech school.

Is the Plumbing School Accredited?  Numerous plumbing trade programs have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They can earn Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, for example electrical technology. Confirm that the Dothan AL school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping guarantee that you acquire a superior education, it may help in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are often unavailable for non-accredited programs. Additionally, a number of states require that the plumbing training program 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 trade school you’re considering is reputable is by checking that it’s properly licensed.  Licensing is usually controlled and regulated 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 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 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 looking at what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students who enroll in and complete the program. A lower completion rate may suggest that students were unhappy with the course and dropped out. It may also mean that the teachers were not competent to train the students. It's similarly imperative that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader directory of graduates, which may mean more contacts for the school to use 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 field, but also that it has the network of contacts to help grads obtain apprenticeships or jobs in the Dothan AL area.

Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored?  A large number of plumber trade programs are taught together with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating vocational and technical schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of plumbing contractors or trade unions. Check if the schools you are comparing have referring relationships with local Dothan AL plumbers or plumbing professionals. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by supplying hands-on training, but it also provides employment opportunities and helps to form relationships in the regional plumbing professional community.

Are there Modern Facilities?  Make sure that the school facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are state-of-the-art and what you will be using in the field. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the master plumber you are working under regarding what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Dothan AL plumbing contracting company if they can give you some pointers.

Where is the School Located?  Unless you are able to relocate, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Dothan AL residence. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there may be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.

Are there Smaller Classes?  It's desirable that you get as much personalized 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 large they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and instructors. Talk to a few of the students and get their feedback concerning class sizes and instruction. Last, talk to 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 reviewing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Dothan AL, verify that the programs you are looking at offer those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Additionally, find out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family issues.

Learn More About Dothan Plumber Vocational Schools

Pick the Right Dothan Plumber Trade School

Selecting the ideal plumbing training program will probably be the most critical decision you will make to start your new career. As we have addressed in this article, there are many things that you will need to evaluate and compare among the training programs you are considering. It's a must that any plumber training program that you are reviewing includes a lot of hands-on training. Classes need to be small in size and every student must have their own equipment to train with. Classroom education should offer a real-world perspective, and the training program should be current and conform with industry standards. Programs vary in length and the type of credential provided, so you will have to decide what length of program and certificate or degree will best serve your needs. Each training program provides different options for certification also. Perhaps the best approach to research your final list of schools is to check out each campus and talk with the students and faculty. Invest some time to attend a few classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the program you select is the best one for you. With the right training, hard work and dedication, you can become a professional plumber in Dothan AL.