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How to Find the Right Plumber Course near Florence Alabama

Florence Alabama plumbing contractor repairing sink faucetThe initial step to learning to be a plumbing tradesman or contractor is locating a plumbing trade school near Florence AL. But with numerous technical schools to pick from, just how do you go about making sure that you enroll in the best one? Especially since there are so many variables to evaluate. For example, many students will start by searching for schools that are nearby their home. Once they have identified a few that are within commuting range, they will choose the one with the cheapest tuition. Although cost and location are of importance, they are not the only things that need to be considered. Also critical are the accreditation and reputations of the schools, as well as their graduation and job placement rates. These and other qualifications should help mold your final judgment when choosing a plumber trade school. We will address that checklist in more detail later in this post. But first, let's talk a little bit about becoming a plumber and the educational options that are accessible.

What is a Plumber?

Florence Alabama plumber adjusting 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 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.

Plumber Degree and Certificate Options

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.

Points to Ask Plumbing Technical Schools

Florence Alabama plumbing contractor repairing hot water heater

When you have decided to earn a certificate, diploma or degree, you can start to focus your school options. Because there are numerous plumbing trade and vocational schools in the Florence AL region, it's important to have a checklist of qualifications that each school must meet. The initial two that we talked about were location and tuition expense. And although both qualifiers may be important when making your determination, there are additional factors that must be taken into account also. Following is a checklist of those added qualifiers that you will need to assess prior to enrolling in a plumber trade school.

Is the Plumbing School Accredited?  Numerous plumbing technical schools have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They may attain Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, for instance electrical technology. Confirm that the Florence AL school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping ensure that you get an excellent education, it can assist in securing financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of states require that the plumbing training program be accredited for it to qualify for certification or licensing.

Is the Plumbing School Licensed?  In addition to accreditation, another way of confirming that a vocational 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’re not sure, ask the school which state agency is responsible for 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 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 course. A lower completion rate could suggest that students were dissatisfied with the program and dropped out. It might also mean 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 list 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 can not only confirm that the school has a good reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of contacts to help grads acquire apprenticeships or employment in the Florence AL area.

Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored?  Numerous plumber training programs are taught in conjunction with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating technical and vocational programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of plumbing businesses or labor unions. Check if the schools you are considering have referring relationships with local Florence AL plumbers or plumbing specialists. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by providing practical training, but it also provides job opportunities and helps to form relationships in the regional plumbing professional community.

Are there Modern Facilities?  Confirm that the campus facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are state-of-the-art and what you will be using in the field. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the master plumber you are working under regarding what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Florence AL plumbing contracting company if they can give you some pointers.

Where is the School Located?  Unless you are able to relocate, the school must be within commuting distance of your Florence AL home. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there can be increased tuition charges compared to in-state residents.

Are there Smaller Classes?  It's desirable that you receive as much one-on-one training as possible, which can be challenging in bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a couple of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and teachers. Talk to some of the students and get their feedback relating to class sizes and instruction. Last, speak with some of the instructors and learn what their level of experience is in Florence AL and what degrees or certifications they hold.

Is the Class Schedule Convenient?  Make sure that the class schedules for the schools you are reviewing are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Florence AL, confirm that the schools you are reviewing offer those choices. If you can only attend part-time, be sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Finally, ask what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family issues.

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Enroll in the Best Florence Plumbing Vocational School

Choosing the right plumber trade school will undoubtedly be the most critical decision you will make to launch your new trade. As we have covered in this article, there are several factors that you will need to evaluate and compare among the schools you are looking at. It's a prerequisite that any plumbing training that you are assessing includes a considerable amount of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be small in size and each student must have their own equipment to train with. Classroom instruction should provide a real-world frame of reference, and the training program should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Programs vary in duration and the type of credential provided, so you will have to determine what length of program and degree or certificate will best fulfill your needs. Every training program offers different possibilities for certification also. Perhaps The ideal approach to research your short list of schools is to go to 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 pick is the right one for you. With the right training, hard work and commitment, you can become a professional plumber in Florence AL.