How to Enroll in the Best Plumber Vocational School near Dothan Alabama
The first step to learning to be a plumbing contractor or tradesman is enrolling in a plumbing trade school near Dothan AL. But with numerous vocational schools to pick from, just how do you undertake making sure that you enroll in the best one? Especially since there are so many variables to examine. For example, many prospective students will start by searching for schools that are close to their residence. When they have located some that are within commuting distance, they will decide on the one with the most affordable tuition. While location and cost are of importance, they are not the sole qualifications that need to be evaluated. Also important are the accreditation and reputations of the schools, in addition to their job placement and graduation rates. These and additional qualifiers should influence your ultimate judgment when choosing a plumbing training school. We will cover 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 instructional choices that are offered.
What is 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 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 OptionsThere 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.
Things to Ask Plumber Training Schools
Now that you have made a decision to obtain a diploma, certificate or degree, you can begin to refine your training options. Considering that there are so many plumbing vocational and trade schools in the Dothan AL area, it's imperative to have a checklist of criteria that each program must satisfy. The first 2 that we mentioned were location and tuition expense. And even though both qualifiers may be important when making your selection, there are other variables that need to be taken into account also. Below is a checklist of those added qualifiers that you will need to research prior to enrolling in a plumber vocational school.
Is the Plumbing School Accredited? Many plumbing trade programs have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They may attain Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, such as electrical technology. Confirm that the Dothan AL program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting organization, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping ensure that you get a quality education, it may assist in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are often unavailable for non-accredited schools. Additionally, many states mandate that the plumbing training course be accredited for it to be approved for certification or licensing.
Is the Plumbing School Licensed? Along with accreditation, another way of determining if a vocational school you’re considering is reputable is by making sure 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 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 schools you are considering what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and finish the program. A lower completion rate might indicate that students were disappointed with the course and quit. It might also suggest that the teachers were not competent to instruct the students. It's similarly 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 result in more contacts for the school to employ for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only validate that the school has an excellent reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of contacts to help graduates acquire apprenticeships or jobs in the Dothan AL area.
Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored? Many plumber trade programs are taught in conjunction 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 businesses or trade unions. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have referring relationships with local Dothan AL plumbers or plumbing companies. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by providing practical training, but it also supplies employment opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the local plumbing professional community.
Are there Modern Facilities? Make sure that the school facilities and the tools that you will be instructed on are state-of-the-art and what you will be using on the job. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the master plumber you are working under regarding what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Dothan AL plumbing company if they can provide some suggestions.
Where is the School Located? Unless you are willing to move, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Dothan AL home. Take note that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there may be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Are there Smaller Classes? It's important that you get as much individualized instruction as possible, which can be difficult in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor a few of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and witness first hand the interaction between teachers and students. Speak with a few of the students and get their comments concerning class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk to 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? Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are assessing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you are only able to go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Dothan AL, check that the schools you are reviewing provide those options. If you can only attend part-time, be sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Finally, ask what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
Learn More About Dothan Plumbing Trade Schools
Choose the Right Dothan Plumber Vocational School
Picking the right plumbing training program will undoubtedly be the most important decision you will make to begin your new career. As we have discussed in this article, there are several factors that you will need to assess and compare among the schools you are looking at. It's a prerequisite that any plumber training program that you are evaluating includes a considerable amount of hands-on instruction. Classes should be small in size and each student should have their own equipment to train with. Classroom instruction needs to offer a real-world frame of reference, and the course of study should be current and in-line with industry standards. Programs differ in duration and the type of credential offered, so you will have to decide what length of program and degree or certificate will best fulfill your needs. Every training program provides different options for certification also. Perhaps the best approach to research your final list of schools is to go to each campus and speak with the students and faculty. Take the time to sit in on 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 proper training, hard work and dedication, you can become a professional plumber in Dothan AL.