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How to Enroll in the Right Plumber Vocational School near Florence Alabama

Florence Alabama plumbing contractor replacing kitchen faucetThe first step to learning to be a plumbing tradesman or contractor is enrolling in a plumbing trade school near Florence AL. But with numerous technical schools to pick from, just how do you undertake making sure that you enroll in the best one? Particularly because there are so many variables to evaluate. For example, many potential students will commence by searching for schools that are close to their home. After they have found a few that are within commuting range, they will decide on the one with the lowest tuition. While cost and location are of importance, they are not the only things that must be evaluated. Also important are the accreditation and reputations of the schools, in addition to their job placement and graduation rates. These and other qualifications should contribute toward your ultimate judgment when choosing a plumber training school. We will talk about that checklist in greater detail later in this article. But to begin with, let's talk a little bit about becoming a plumber and the instructional options that are offered.

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.

Plumber 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.

Questions to Ask Plumbing Tech Schools

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When you have made a decision to earn a certificate, diploma or degree, you can start to focus your training options. Because there are so many plumbing vocational and trade schools in the Florence AL region, it's imperative to have a checklist of criteria that each program must satisfy. The initial two that we mentioned were location and tuition expense. And while both qualifiers may be critical when making your determination, there are other variables that need to be considered also. Below is a checklist of those added qualifiers that you will need to analyze prior to selecting a plumber vocational school.

Is the Plumbing School Accredited?  A large number of plumbing technical schools have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They can acquire Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, for example electrical technology. Make certain 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 guarantee that you get an excellent education, it may help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited schools. Additionally, many states require that the plumbing training program be accredited in order to be approved for licensing or certification.

Is the Plumbing School Licensed?  In addition to accreditation, an additional way of determining if a trade school you’re considering is reputable is by checking 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 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 reviewing what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students who enroll in and finish the program. A lower completion rate might signify that students were unhappy with the course and dropped out. It might also mean that the instructors were not qualified to instruct the students. It's similarly important that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader directory of graduates, which can result in more contacts for the school to use for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only validate that the school has an excellent reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of contacts to help graduates acquire apprenticeships or employment in the Florence AL area.

Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored?  A large number of plumber technical programs are taught together with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating vocational and trade schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of plumbing contractors or trade unions. Find out if the schools you are comparing have referring partnerships with local Florence AL plumbers or plumbing professionals. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by providing hands-on training, but it also supplies job opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the local plumbing professional community.

Are there Modern Facilities?  Make sure that the school 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 currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the master plumber you are working under concerning what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Florence AL plumbing company if they can provide some tips.

Where is the School Located?  Unless you are able to move, the school must be within driving distance of your Florence AL home. Take note that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there can be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.

Are there Smaller Classes?  It's desirable that you receive as much personalized instruction as possible, which can be difficult in larger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a couple of the classes so that you can see how large they are and experience the interaction between students and teachers. Speak to a few of the students and get their feedback relating to class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak with a few of the instructors and find out what their level of experience is in Florence AL and what certifications or degrees they have earned.

Is the Class Schedule Convenient?  Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are assessing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Florence AL, confirm that the programs you are comparing provide those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family responsibilities.

Find Out More About Florence Plumbing Trade Schools

Pick the Right Florence Plumber Trade School

Picking the right plumber trade school will probably be the most critical decision you will make to launch your new profession. As we have covered in this article, there are many factors that you will need to examine and compare among the training programs you are considering. It's a must that any plumbing training that you are considering includes a good deal of hands-on training. Classes need to be small in size and every student should have their own equipment to train with. Classroom education should offer a real-world perspective, and the curriculum should be current and in-line with industry standards. Training programs vary in duration and the type of credential provided, so you will have to decide what length of program and degree or certificate will best serve your needs. Each training program provides unique possibilities for certification as well. Perhaps the best means to research your short list of schools is to go to each campus and talk with the students and faculty. Invest some time to attend some classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the training program you decide on is the ideal one for you. With the proper training, effort and commitment, you can become a professional plumber in Florence AL.