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How to Select the Right Plumber School near Enterprise Alabama

Enterprise Alabama plumber repairing kitchen faucetThe first step to learning to be a plumbing tradesman or contractor is enrolling in a plumbing trade school near Enterprise AL. But with so many technical schools to choose from, just how do you go about making certain that you enroll in the right one? Especially because there are a number of factors to evaluate. For example, some students will begin by searching for schools that are close to their home. Once they have located some that are within commuting distance, they will decide on the one with the cheapest tuition. Although location and cost are important, they are not the only things that must be examined. Also critical are the reputations of the schools, their accreditation, as well as their job placement and graduation rates. These and other qualifiers should contribute toward your ultimate decision when choosing a plumbing training school. We will talk about that checklist in greater detail later in this post. But first, let's review a little bit about becoming a plumber and the training options that are accessible.

What is a Plumber?

Enterprise Alabama plumbing contractor fixing sink pipe

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 Certificate and Degree Programs

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.

Things to Ask Plumbing Trade Schools

Enterprise Alabama plumbing contractor repairing hot water heater

When you have made a decision to earn a certificate, diploma or degree, you can start to refine your school options. Because there are so many plumbing tech and trade schools in the Enterprise AL area, it's important to have a checklist of criteria that each program must satisfy. The initial two that we discussed were location and tuition expense. And even though both qualifiers may be important when making your selection, there are other factors that must be considered also. Below is a checklist of those additional qualifiers that you will need to assess prior to selecting a plumber trade school.

Is the Plumbing School Accredited?  Numerous plumbing vocational programs have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They may earn Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, for example electrical technology. Make certain that the Enterprise AL program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping make certain that you obtain a quality education, it may help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases not available for non-accredited programs. Also, a number of states mandate that the plumbing training course be accredited for it to be approved for licensing or certification.

Is the Plumbing School Licensed?  In addition to 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 regulated and controlled 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 training programs you are reviewing what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage or portion of students who enroll in and complete the program. A lower completion rate could indicate that students were dissatisfied with the program and dropped out. It could also signify that the instructors were not competent to train the students. It's also imperative that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive list of graduates, which may produce more contacts for the school to utilize for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only confirm that the school has a good reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of contacts to help graduates acquire apprenticeships or employment in the Enterprise AL area.

Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored?  Many plumber training programs are taught in conjunction with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating trade and vocational schools 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 relationships with local Enterprise AL plumbers or plumbing companies. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by supplying hands-on training, but it also provides employment opportunities and helps to build relationships in the local plumbing professional community.

Are there Modern Facilities?  Confirm that the school facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are up-to-date and what you will be using in the field. If you are currently 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 Enterprise AL plumbing contractor 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 Enterprise AL residence. Take note that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides the added moving costs there can be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.

Are there Smaller Classes?  It's desirable that you get as much one-on-one instruction as possible, which can be difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor some of the classes so that you can see how big they are and experience the interaction between students and teachers. Speak to some of the students and get their feedback relating to class sizes and instruction. Last, speak with some of the teachers and learn what their level of experience is in Enterprise AL and what certifications or degrees they have earned.

Is the Class Schedule Convenient?  Confirm that the class schedules for the schools you are reviewing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you are only able to go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Enterprise AL, verify that the schools you are comparing provide those choices. If you can only attend part-time, make certain that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Also, check out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family issues.

Find Out More About Enterprise Plumbing Tech Schools

Enroll in the Best Enterprise Plumber Trade School

Choosing the right plumbing training program will undoubtedly be the most important decision you will make to begin your new profession. As we have discussed in this article, there are many things that you will need to assess and compare among the schools you are looking at. It's a necessity that any plumbing training that you are assessing includes a lot of hands-on training. Classes should be smaller in size and every student should have their personal equipment to train with. Classroom teaching needs to provide a real-world context, and the course of study should be current and in-line with industry standards. Programs differ in length and the kind of credential offered, so you will need to determine what length of program and degree or certificate will best satisfy your needs. Every program provides unique options for certification as well. Perhaps The ideal approach to research your short list of schools is to visit each campus and talk with the students and instructors. Invest some time to sit in on a few classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the training program you select is the right one for you. With the proper training, hard work and dedication, you can become a professional plumber in Enterprise AL.