How to Find the Right Plumber Vocational School near Florence Alabama
The initial step to learning to be a plumbing contractor or tradesman is enrolling in a plumbing trade school near Florence AL. But with so many vocational schools to choose from, just how do you go about making sure that you enroll in the ideal one? Particularly since there are a number of variables to consider. For instance, many students will begin by searching for schools that are close to their home. Once they have found some that are within driving distance, they will select the one with the most affordable tuition. While location and cost are significant, they are not the only things that should be evaluated. Also critical are the accreditation and reputations of the schools, in addition to their job placement and graduation rates. These and other qualifiers should influence your ultimate judgment when picking a plumber trade school. We will talk about that checklist in greater detail later in this article. But to begin with, let's review a little bit about becoming a plumber and the educational options that are accessible.
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 Florence AL plumber will typically advance through three phases during their professional career.
- Apprentice. The majority of 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 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 OptionsThere are several educational options available near 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.
Topics to Ask Plumbing Technical Schools
Once you have made a decision to obtain a diploma, certificate or degree, you can start to narrow down your school options. Because there are numerous plumbing tech and trade schools in the Florence AL region, it's essential to have a checklist of criteria that each school must meet. The first 2 that we discussed were location and tuition expense. And although both qualifiers may be critical when making your decision, there are other factors that need to be taken into account as well. Following is a checklist of those added qualifiers that you will need to assess before enrolling in a plumber trade school.
Is the Plumbing School Accredited? Numerous plumbing vocational schools have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They may earn Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, such as electrical technology. Make certain that the Florence AL school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting agency, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping ensure that you acquire an excellent education, it can assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are frequently unavailable for non-accredited schools. Additionally, many states mandate that the plumbing training course be accredited in order to be approved for certification or licensing.
Is the Plumbing School Licensed? Along with accreditation, an additional 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 regulates 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 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 training programs you are reviewing what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students who enroll in and finish the program. A low completion rate could suggest that students were disappointed with the course and quit. It may also mean that the instructors 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 may mean more contacts for the school to use for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only affirm that the school has a good reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of contacts to assist grads acquire apprenticeships or jobs in the Florence AL area.
Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored? Many plumber technical programs are taught together with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating trade and technical schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of plumbing companies or labor unions. Check if the schools you are comparing have referring relationships with local Florence AL plumbers or plumbing professionals. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by providing hands-on training, but it also provides job opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the regional plumbing professional community.
Are there Modern Facilities? Make certain that the campus facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are state-of-the-art and what you will be working with on the job. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the master plumber you are working under concerning what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Florence AL plumbing company if they can give you some pointers.
Where is the School Located? Unless you are able to relocate, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Florence AL residence. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there may be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Are there Smaller Classes? It's desirable that you get as much individualized training as possible, which can be difficult in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor some of the classes so that you can see how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and teachers. Speak with several of the students and get their opinions relating to class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak with a few of the teachers and find out what their level of experience is in Florence AL and what degrees or certifications they hold.
Is the Class Schedule Convenient? Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Florence AL, check that the programs you are reviewing provide those choices. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family issues.
Find Out More About Florence Plumbing Vocational Schools
Pick the Best Florence Plumber Training School
Selecting the best plumbing trade school will probably be the most critical decision you will make to start your new profession. As we have addressed in this article, there are several factors that you will need to evaluate and compare between the schools you are looking at. It's a necessity that any plumber training that you are examining includes a good deal of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be smaller in size and every student must have their personal equipment to train with. Classroom instruction needs to provide a real-world perspective, and the training program should be current and conform with industry standards. Courses differ in duration and the type of credential provided, so you will have to determine what length of program and certificate or degree will best serve your needs. Every program provides unique options for certification as well. Probably the best means to research your final list of schools is to go to each campus and speak with the faculty and students. Take the time to sit in on a few classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the school you select is the best one for you. With the right training, effort and dedication, you can become a professional plumber in Florence AL.