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How to Find the Best Plumber Trade School near Dothan Alabama

Dothan Alabama plumber repairing kitchen faucetThe first step to becoming a plumbing contractor or tradesman is finding a plumbing trade school near Dothan AL. But with numerous 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 variables to evaluate. For instance, some students will begin by looking for schools that are nearby their home. When they have found several that are within driving range, they will choose the one with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are of importance, they are not the sole factors that need to be evaluated. Also important are the accreditation and reputations of the schools, along with their graduation and job placement rates. These and other qualifications should influence your final decision when picking a plumber training school. We will discuss that checklist in greater detail later in this article. But first, let's review a little bit about becoming a plumber and the instructional choices 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.

Plumbing Degree and Certificate 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 Plumbing Technical Schools

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Once you have made a decision to obtain a diploma, certificate or degree, you can begin to narrow down your school options. Because there are so many plumbing trade and vocational schools in the Dothan AL area, it's imperative to have a checklist of criteria that each program must meet. The first 2 that we talked about were location and tuition expense. And while both qualifiers may be crucial when making your selection, there are other factors that must be taken into account also. Below is a checklist of those additional qualifiers that you will need to assess before selecting a plumber trade school.

Is the Plumbing School Accredited?  A large number of plumbing technical schools have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They may acquire Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, for example electrical technology. Make sure that the Dothan AL program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping guarantee that you obtain a quality education, it may assist in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable for non-accredited programs. Also, some states mandate that the plumbing training program be accredited in order to qualify for licensing or certification.

Is the Plumbing School Licensed?  In addition to accreditation, another way of determining if a trade school you’re considering is reputable is by making sure that it’s properly licensed.  Licensing is typically controlled and regulated 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 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 complete the program. A low completion rate could suggest that students were unhappy with the program and quit. It might also signify that the teachers were not qualified 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 broader directory of alumni, 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 affirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of contacts to help grads secure 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 trade and vocational schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of plumbing companies or trade unions. Find out if the schools you are comparing have referring relationships with local Dothan AL plumbers or plumbing specialists. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by furnishing hands-on training, but it also supplies job opportunities and helps to build relationships in the local 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 presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the master plumber you are working with regarding what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Dothan AL plumbing contracting company if they can provide some pointers.

Where is the School Located?  Unless you are willing to move, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Dothan AL residence. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there might be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.

Are there Smaller Classes?  It's desirable that you get as much one-on-one training as possible, which can be challenging in larger classes. Ask if you can sit in on some of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between teachers and students. Speak to several of the students and get their comments concerning class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk with some of the instructors and learn what their level of experience is in Dothan AL and what certifications or degrees they hold.

Is the Class Schedule Convenient?  Make sure that the class schedules for the schools you are assessing are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Dothan AL, verify that the programs you are considering offer those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Finally, ask what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family emergencies.

Learn More About Dothan Plumber Tech Schools

Choose the Best Dothan Plumbing Trade School

Selecting the best plumber trade school will probably be the most critical decision you will make to begin your new profession. As we have addressed in this article, there are a number of things that you will need to examine and compare among the training programs you are reviewing. It's a prerequisite that any plumbing training that you are evaluating includes a considerable amount of hands-on instruction. 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 training program should be current and in-line 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 fulfill your needs. Every training program offers unique possibilities for certification also. Probably the best means to research your short list of schools is to visit each campus and talk with the teachers and students. Invest some time to monitor some classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the training program you choose is the ideal one for you. With the proper training, effort and commitment, you can become a professional plumber in Dothan AL.