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How to Choose the Right Plumbing Vocational School near East Florence Alabama

East Florence Alabama plumbing contractor repairing kitchen faucetThe first step to learning to be a plumbing tradesman or contractor is enrolling in a plumbing trade school near East Florence AL. But with numerous technical schools to select from, just how do you go about making certain that you enroll in the right one? Particularly since there are so many factors to consider. For example, some prospective students will start by looking for schools that are nearby their home. Once they have located a few that are within driving distance, they will select the one with the cheapest tuition. While cost and location are of importance, they are not the sole things that should be examined. Also important are the accreditation and reputations of the schools, along with their job placement and graduation rates. These and other qualifiers should contribute toward your ultimate decision when selecting a plumber training school. We will discuss that checklist in more detail later in this post. But to begin with, let's review a little bit about becoming a plumber and the training choices that are available.

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 East Florence AL plumber will typically advance through three phases during their professional career.

  • Apprentice. The majority of East Florence 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 East Florence 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 East Florence 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 Plumbing Vocational Schools

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When you have decided to earn a diploma, certificate or degree, you can start to focus your school options. Considering that there are numerous plumbing tech and trade schools in the East Florence AL area, it's essential to have a checklist of qualifications that each school must meet. The first 2 that we talked about were location and tuition expense. And although both qualifiers may be crucial when making your decision, there are additional factors that need to be considered also. Following is a checklist of those added qualifications that you will need to research prior to enrolling in a plumber technical school.

Is the Plumbing School Accredited?  Many plumbing technical programs have attained 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. Verify that the East Florence AL program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting organization, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping make certain that you obtain a superior education, it can help in securing financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited schools. Furthermore, many states mandate that the plumbing training course be accredited in order to qualify 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 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 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 East Florence 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 course. A lower completion rate may indicate that students were dissatisfied with the course and quit. It could also indicate that the teachers were not qualified 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 mean 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 a good reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of contacts to help graduates acquire apprenticeships or jobs in the East Florence AL area.

Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored?  Most plumber trade programs are taught in conjunction with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating technical and vocational programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of plumbing contractors or labor unions. Ask if the schools you are comparing have working partnerships with local East Florence AL plumbers or plumbing companies. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by providing hands-on training, but it also supplies employment opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the area plumbing professional community.

Are there Modern Facilities?  Make sure that the campus facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are up-to-date and what you will be working with on the job. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the master plumber you are working with regarding what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local East Florence AL plumbing contractor if they can give you some suggestions.

Where is the School Located?  Unless you can move, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your East Florence AL residence. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there may be increased tuition charges compared to in-state residents.

Are there Smaller Classes?  It's important that you get as much individualized training as possible, which can be difficult 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. Speak to several of the students and get their opinions concerning class sizes and instruction. Last, talk to a few of the instructors and learn what their level of experience is in East Florence AL and what certifications or degrees they have earned.

Is the Class Schedule Convenient?  Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are assessing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near East Florence AL, confirm that the programs you are comparing provide those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Additionally, ask what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family issues.

Learn More About East Florence Plumber Trade Schools

Choose the Best East Florence Plumbing Trade School

Picking the right plumbing trade school will probably be the most important decision you will make to begin your new profession. As we have discussed in this article, there are a number of factors that you will need to assess and compare between the training programs you are considering. It's a prerequisite that any plumber training program that you are assessing includes a good deal of hands-on instruction. Classes should be smaller in size and every student must have their own equipment to train with. Classroom education needs to offer a real-world frame of reference, and the curriculum should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Training programs vary in length and the kind of credential provided, so you will have to determine what length of program and degree or certificate will best serve your needs. Each training program offers different options for certification as well. Probably the best means to research your final list of schools is to check out each campus and speak with the students and faculty. Take the time to monitor a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the school you select is the right one for you. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, you can become a professional plumber in East Florence AL.