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How to Find the Right Plumber Vocational School near Florence Alabama

Florence Alabama plumbing contractor repairing kitchen faucetThe first step to becoming a plumbing tradesman or contractor is enrolling in a plumbing trade school near Florence AL. But with numerous vocational schools to choose from, just how do you approach making certain that you enroll in the ideal one? Especially because there are a number of factors to consider. For example, many potential students will commence by searching for schools that are close to their residence. After they have found a few that are within driving range, they will decide on the one with the most affordable tuition. Even though cost and location are significant, they are not the sole things that must be considered. Also important are the reputations of the schools, their accreditation, in addition to their graduation and job placement rates. These and additional qualifiers should contribute toward your ultimate decision when choosing a plumbing training school. We will address 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 instructional 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 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 Degree and Certificate Programs

There 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.

What to Ask Plumbing Vocational Schools

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When you have decided to earn a certificate, diploma or degree, you can begin to refine your school options. Considering that there are numerous plumbing tech and trade schools in the Florence AL area, it's important to have a checklist of criteria that each school must satisfy. The first 2 that we mentioned were location and the cost of tuition. And even though both qualifiers may be important when making your decision, there are additional variables that need to be taken into account also. Following is a checklist of those additional qualifications that you will need to analyze before choosing a plumber tech school.

Is the Plumbing School Accredited?  A large number of plumbing trade programs have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They can receive 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. Verify that the Florence AL program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting organization, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping ensure that you obtain a superior education, it may assist in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited schools. Furthermore, a number of states mandate that the plumbing training program be accredited in order to qualify for licensing or certification.

Is the Plumbing School Licensed?  Along with accreditation, an additional way of determining if a trade school you’re reiewing is reputable is by making sure that it’s properly licensed.  Licensing is usually 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 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 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 looking at what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage or portion of students who enroll in and finish the program. A low completion rate might indicate that students were disappointed with the course and dropped out. It may also indicate that the teachers were not qualified to instruct the students. It's also imperative that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader directory of alumni, which can result in more contacts for the school to employ for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only affirm that the school has a good reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of contacts to assist graduates secure apprenticeships or employment in the Florence AL area.

Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored?  Numerous plumber trade programs are taught in conjunction 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 considering have referring relationships with local Florence AL plumbers or plumbing contractors. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by providing hands-on training, but it also supplies employment opportunities and helps to build relationships in the regional plumbing professional community.

Are there Modern Facilities?  Confirm that the campus facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are state-of-the-art and what you will be using on the job. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the master plumber you are working with concerning what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Florence AL plumbing contractor if they can give you some pointers.

Where is the School Located?  Unless you are able to move, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Florence AL home. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there may be higher tuition fees 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 challenging in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor a couple of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and experience the interaction between students and teachers. Talk to a few of the students and get their opinions regarding class sizes and instruction. Last, talk with some 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 schools you are assessing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you are only able to attend classes at night or on weekends near Florence AL, confirm that the programs you are considering offer those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, be sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Finally, find out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family issues.

Learn More About Florence Plumbing Training Schools

Choose the Right Florence Plumber Trade School

Picking the ideal plumber training program will probably be the most important decision you will make to begin your new trade. As we have addressed in this article, there are a number of things that you will need to assess and compare among the schools you are considering. It's a necessity that any plumbing tech school that you are reviewing includes a lot of hands-on training. Classes need to be smaller in size and every student should have their own equipment to train with. Classroom education should offer a real-world frame of reference, and the curriculum should be current and conform with industry standards. Programs vary in length and the type of credential provided, so you will have to decide what length of program and credential will best satisfy your needs. Each training program provides unique possibilities for certification as well. Probably The ideal approach to research your final list of schools is to go to each campus and speak with the teachers and students. Take the time to sit in on a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the program you choose is the best one for you. With the right training, effort and dedication, you can become a professional plumber in Florence AL.