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How to Pick the Best Plumber School near Gadsden Alabama

Gadsden Alabama plumbing contractor repairing kitchen sink faucetThe initial step to becoming a plumbing tradesman or contractor is enrolling in a plumbing trade school near Gadsden AL. But with numerous vocational schools to pick from, just how do you undertake making sure that you enroll in the ideal one? Particularly since there are so many factors to consider. For instance, many prospective students will commence by looking for schools that are nearby their home. Once they have found several that are within driving range, they will pick the one with the least expensive tuition. Although cost and location are of importance, they are not the sole factors that must be considered. Also important are the accreditation and reputations of the schools, in addition to their graduation and job placement rates. These and other qualifiers should contribute toward your final judgment when picking a plumber trade school. We will address that checklist in greater detail later in this post. But first, let's talk a little bit about becoming a plumber and the instructional options that are offered.

What is a Plumber?

Gadsden Alabama plumbing contractor adjusting water 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 Gadsden AL plumber will typically advance through three phases during their professional career.

  • Apprentice. The majority of Gadsden 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 Gadsden 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 Options

There are several educational options available near Gadsden 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 Trade Schools

Gadsden Alabama plumber replacing water heater

Once you have made a decision to obtain a diploma, certificate or degree, you can begin to focus your training options. Because there are numerous plumbing tech and trade schools in the Gadsden AL area, it's essential to have a checklist of qualifications that each program must satisfy. The first 2 that we mentioned were location and the cost of tuition. And while both qualifiers may be crucial when making your decision, there are additional variables that need to be taken into account also. Below is a checklist of those added qualifiers that you will need to assess before enrolling in a plumber tech school.

Is the Plumbing School Accredited?  Numerous plumbing vocational programs have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They may earn Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, for example electrical technology. Make certain that the Gadsden 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. In addition to helping ensure that you obtain a superior education, it can assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases not available for non-accredited programs. Also, some states require that the plumbing training course be accredited for it to qualify for certification or licensing.

Is the Plumbing School Licensed?  Along with accreditation, an additional way of determining if a vocational school you’re reiewing 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 Gadsden 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 portion or percentage of students who enroll in and complete the course. A low completion rate may suggest that students were disappointed with the course and dropped out. It may also signify that the teachers were not qualified to train the students. It's similarly imperative that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader directory of graduates, which can produce more contacts for the school to utilize 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 field, but additionally that it has the network of contacts to assist grads secure apprenticeships or employment in the Gadsden AL area.

Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored?  Many plumber vocational programs are taught in conjunction with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating trade and technical programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of plumbing contractors or trade unions. Ask if the schools you are comparing have referring relationships with local Gadsden AL plumbers or plumbing companies. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by providing hands-on 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 school facilities and the tools that you will be trained on are state-of-the-art and what you will be working with in the field. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the master plumber you are working with concerning what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Gadsden AL plumbing company if they can give you some suggestions.

Where is the School Located?  Unless you are willing to move, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Gadsden AL residence. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added moving costs there might be increased tuition charges compared to in-state residents.

Are there Smaller Classes?  It's important that you get as much one-on-one training as possible, which can be challenging in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor a few of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and experience the interaction between instructors and students. Speak to a few of the students and get their comments regarding class sizes and instruction. Last, speak to some of the teachers and learn what their level of experience is in Gadsden AL and what certifications or degrees they have earned.

Is the Class Schedule Convenient?  Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are evaluating are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you are only able to go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Gadsden AL, confirm that the schools you are reviewing offer those options. If you can only attend part-time, be sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Additionally, ask what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family issues.

Learn More About Gadsden Plumber Training Schools

Pick the Right Gadsden Plumber Vocational School

Picking the ideal plumbing trade school will undoubtedly be the most important decision you will make to launch your new profession. As we have addressed in this article, there are several factors that you will need to assess and compare among the training programs you are considering. It's a must that any plumber training that you are considering includes a considerable amount of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be small in size and each student must have their personal equipment to train with. Classroom teaching should provide a real-world perspective, and the curriculum should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Training programs differ in length and the kind of credential provided, so you will need to determine what length of program and degree or certificate will best fulfill your needs. Each training program offers different options for certification as well. Probably the best way to research your short list of schools is to check out each campus and speak with the faculty and students. Invest some time to monitor some classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the training program you select is the best one for you. With the proper training, effort and commitment, you can become a professional plumber in Gadsden AL.