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How to Choose the Best Plumber School near Florence Alabama

Florence Alabama plumbing contractor installing sink faucetThe first step to learning to be a plumbing tradesman or contractor is finding a plumbing trade school near Florence AL. But with so many vocational schools to select from, just how do you go about making certain that you enroll in the ideal one? Particularly because there are so many factors to consider. For instance, some prospective students will start by searching for schools that are close to their residence. Once they have found some that are within driving range, they will choose the one with the least expensive tuition. While location and cost are significant, they are not the sole things that must be considered. Also important are the accreditation and reputations of the schools, as well as their graduation and job placement rates. These and other qualifiers should influence your final judgment when selecting a plumbing trade school. We will address that checklist in greater detail later in this post. But to begin with, let's talk a little bit about becoming a plumber and the instructional options that are accessible.

Becoming 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.

Plumbing Certificate and Degree 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.

Things to Ask Plumbing Technical Schools

Florence Alabama plumbing contractor replacing hot water heater

When you have made a decision to earn a diploma, certificate or degree, you can begin to narrow down your school options. Since there are so many plumbing tech and trade schools in the Florence AL area, it's imperative to have a checklist of criteria that each school must satisfy. The first two that we mentioned were location and the cost of tuition. And although both qualifiers may be crucial when making your selection, there are additional variables that need to be considered as well. Following is a checklist of those additional qualifiers that you will need to analyze prior to choosing a plumber trade school.

Is the Plumbing School Accredited?  Many plumbing technical schools have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They can acquire Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, for instance electrical technology. Make sure that the Florence AL school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping make certain that you acquire an excellent education, it may help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are frequently unavailable for non-accredited programs. Furthermore, a number of states require that the plumbing training course be accredited in order to be approved for licensing or certification.

Is the Plumbing School Licensed?  In addition to accreditation, another way of determining if a vocational school you’re considering is reputable is by making sure 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 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 schools you are looking at what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and finish the program. A lower completion rate may indicate that students were dissatisfied with the course and quit. It may also suggest that the instructors were not competent to train the students. It's similarly essential that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader directory of alumni, which may result in more contacts for the school to utilize for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only validate that the school has a good reputation within the trade, but additionally that it has the network of contacts to help grads acquire apprenticeships or jobs in the Florence AL area.

Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored?  Numerous plumber vocational 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 businesses or trade unions. Ask if the schools you are comparing have referring relationships with local Florence AL plumbers or plumbing contractors. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by supplying hands-on training, but it also furnishes job opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the area plumbing professional community.

Are there Modern Facilities?  Make sure that the campus facilities and the tools that you will be instructed 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. Otherwise, ask a local Florence AL plumbing company if they can provide some tips.

Where is the School Located?  Unless you are able to relocate, the school must be within driving distance of your Florence AL residence. Take note that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there can be increased tuition charges compared to in-state residents.

Are there Smaller Classes?  It's desirable that you get as much one-on-one training as possible, which can be difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on some of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and experience the interaction between teachers and students. Talk to a few of the students and get their comments concerning 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 have earned.

Is the Class Schedule Convenient?  Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are reviewing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you are only able to attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Florence AL, check that the schools you are looking at provide those choices. If you can only attend part-time, make certain that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Additionally, ask what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family responsibilities.

Find Out More About Florence Plumber Vocational Schools

Choose the Right Florence Plumber Training School

Selecting the ideal plumber trade school will probably be the most critical decision you will make to launch your new profession. As we have discussed in this article, there are several factors that you will need to examine and compare among the schools you are considering. It's a must that any plumber training that you are assessing includes a considerable amount of hands-on training. Classes need to be small in size and each student should have their own equipment to train with. Classroom instruction needs to provide a real-world context, and the training program should be current and in-line with industry standards. Training programs differ in duration and the kind of credential offered, so you will need to decide what length of program and credential will best serve your needs. Each training program offers unique options for certification as well. Perhaps the best way to research your final list of schools is to check out each campus and speak with the students and faculty. Take the time to monitor some classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the training program you select is the ideal one for you. With the right training, hard work and dedication, you can become a professional plumber in Florence AL.