How to Choose the Best Plumbing School near Florence Alabama
The initial step to learning to be a plumbing contractor or tradesman is locating a plumbing trade school near Florence AL. But with numerous vocational schools to pick from, just how do you go about making sure that you enroll in the best one? Especially because there are so many points to examine. For instance, many potential students will begin by looking for schools that are close to their residence. When they have located a few that are within driving distance, they will pick the one with the lowest tuition. While cost and location are of importance, they are not the sole things that should be considered. Also important are the reputations of the schools, their accreditation, as well as their job placement and graduation rates. These and other qualifiers should contribute toward your final decision when choosing a plumbing trade school. We will cover that checklist in greater detail later in this post. But to begin with, let's review a little bit about becoming a plumber and the educational choices 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 ProgramsThere 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 Plumber Vocational Schools
When you have made a decision to obtain a diploma, certificate or degree, you can start to narrow down your training options. Considering that there are so many plumbing trade and vocational schools in the Florence AL region, it's essential to have a checklist of qualifications that each program must meet. The first two that we talked about were location and the cost of tuition. And while 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 qualifiers that you will need to research prior to choosing a plumber technical school.
Is the Plumbing School Accredited? Many plumbing vocational schools have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They can attain Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, for example electrical technology. Confirm that the Florence AL school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting agency, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping guarantee that you get an excellent education, it can assist in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited programs. Also, some states require that the plumbing training program be accredited for it to be approved for certification or licensing.
Is the Plumbing School Licensed? Along with accreditation, another way of determining if a vocational 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 don’t know, 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 considering what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and complete the program. A lower completion rate could suggest that students were disappointed with the program and dropped out. It could also suggest that the teachers were not qualified 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 alumni, which may produce more contacts for the school to utilize 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 additionally that it has the network of contacts to assist students acquire apprenticeships or employment in the Florence AL area.
Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored? Many plumber trade programs are taught along with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating technical and vocational schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of plumbing businesses or labor unions. Ask if the schools you are comparing have working partnerships with local Florence AL plumbers or plumbing contractors. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by providing practical training, but it also supplies job opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the area plumbing professional community.
Are there Modern Facilities? Make sure that the school facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are up-to-date 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 regarding what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Florence AL plumbing contractor if they can provide some suggestions.
Where is the School Located? Unless you can relocate, 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, besides the added moving costs there might be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Are there Smaller Classes? It's desirable that you receive as much personalized training as possible, which can be difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a couple of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and instructors. Speak to several of the students and get their opinions relating to class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk to some of the instructors and find out what their level of experience is in Florence AL and what certifications or degrees they hold.
Is the Class Schedule Convenient? Confirm that the class schedules for the schools you are evaluating are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Florence AL, check that the schools you are considering provide those choices. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Additionally, ask what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family issues.
Find Out More About Florence Plumber Training Schools
Pick the Right Florence Plumbing Trade School
Selecting the right plumber training program will undoubtedly be the most important decision you will make to launch your new career. As we have covered in this article, there are several things that you will need to examine and compare among the schools you are considering. It's a prerequisite that any plumber training program that you are reviewing includes a considerable amount of hands-on training. Classes need to be small in size and each student must have their personal equipment to train with. Classroom instruction should provide a real-world perspective, and the training program should be current and conform with industry standards. Courses differ in duration and the kind of credential provided, so you will have to determine what length of program and credential will best satisfy your needs. Every training program offers different options for certification also. Probably The ideal means to research your short list of schools is to go to each campus and talk with the teachers and students. Take the time to attend a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the training program you select is the right one for you. With the proper training, effort and dedication, you can become a professional plumber in Florence AL.