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How to Select the Best Plumber Technical School near Enterprise Alabama

Enterprise Alabama plumber replacing kitchen sink faucetThe first step to becoming a plumbing contractor or tradesman is finding a plumbing trade school near Enterprise AL. But with numerous vocational schools to pick from, just how do you undertake making sure that you enroll in the best one? Particularly since there are so many variables to examine. For example, some potential students will commence by looking for schools that are close to their home. When they have located some that are within commuting distance, they will select the one with the lowest tuition. Even though cost and location are important, they are not the only things that must be considered. Also critical are the reputations of the schools, their accreditation, in addition to their graduation and job placement rates. These and additional qualifiers should influence your final decision when picking a plumbing trade school. We will cover that checklist in greater detail later in this post. But to begin with, let's review a little bit about becoming a plumber and the training options 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 Enterprise AL plumber will typically advance through three phases during their professional career.

  • Apprentice. The majority of Enterprise 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 Enterprise AL is to enroll in a plumbing technology program that will provide the comprehensive quality training needed to embark on this challenging career.

Plumber Degree and Certificate Options

There are several educational options available near Enterprise 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.

Questions to Ask Plumbing Trade Schools

Enterprise Alabama plumbing contractor installing water heater

Now that you have made a decision to obtain a certificate, diploma or degree, you can start to narrow down your school options. Considering that there are so many plumbing vocational and trade schools in the Enterprise AL region, it's imperative to have a checklist of qualifications that each school must satisfy. The first 2 that we mentioned were location and tuition expense. And even though both qualifiers may be critical when making your determination, there are additional variables that need to be taken into account as well. Following is a checklist of those additional qualifications that you will need to research before enrolling in a plumber technical school.

Is the Plumbing School Accredited?  Many plumbing technical schools have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They may attain Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, such as electrical technology. Confirm that the Enterprise AL school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping make certain that you acquire a quality education, it may assist in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable for non-accredited programs. Furthermore, a number of states require that the plumbing training course be accredited for it to be approved for certification or licensing.

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 controlled and regulated by state agencies, such as the Alabama Department of Education.  If you don’t know, 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 Enterprise 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 portion or percentage of students who enroll in and finish the program. A lower completion rate could suggest that students were dissatisfied with the course and quit. It may also signify that the teachers were not qualified to train the students. It's also essential that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive directory of alumni, which may produce 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 assist graduates acquire apprenticeships or jobs in the Enterprise AL area.

Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored?  Most plumber trade programs are taught along with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating trade and vocational programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of plumbing companies or labor unions. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have working partnerships with local Enterprise AL plumbers or plumbing specialists. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by supplying hands-on training, but it also provides employment opportunities and helps to build relationships in the area plumbing professional community.

Are there Modern Facilities?  Make sure that the campus facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are up-to-date and what you will be using in the field. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the master plumber you are working under concerning what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Enterprise AL plumbing contracting company if they can provide some pointers.

Where is the School Located?  Unless you can move, the school must be within commuting distance of your Enterprise AL home. Take note that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there may be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.

Are there Smaller Classes?  It's important that you receive as much individualized instruction as possible, which can be difficult in larger classes. Ask if you can sit in on some 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 feedback concerning class sizes and instruction. Last, speak to a few of the instructors and learn what their level of experience is in Enterprise AL and what degrees or certifications 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 can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Enterprise AL, verify that the programs you are looking at provide those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Finally, find out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family issues.

Learn More About Enterprise Plumber Tech Schools

Choose the Right Enterprise Plumber Training School

Selecting the best plumber training program will probably be the most critical decision you will make to begin your new trade. As we have discussed in this article, there are a number of things that you will need to assess and compare among the training programs you are reviewing. It's a necessity that any plumbing training that you are assessing 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 teaching needs to offer a real-world context, 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 determine what length of program and degree or certificate will best satisfy your needs. Every training program offers unique options for certification as well. Probably the best approach to research your final list of schools is to go to each campus and talk with the students and instructors. Take the time to attend a few classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the school you select is the best one for you. With the right training, hard work and dedication, you can become a professional plumber in Enterprise AL.