How to Select the Best Plumber Technical School near Gadsden Alabama
The initial step to learning to be a plumbing tradesman or contractor is finding a plumbing trade school near Gadsden AL. But with numerous vocational schools to pick from, just how do you tackle making sure that you enroll in the best one? Particularly since there are so many factors to examine. For instance, some students will commence by looking for schools that are close to their residence. When they have located some that are within driving distance, they will select the one with the cheapest tuition. Although cost and location are important, they are not the only things that need to be considered. Also important are the accreditation and reputations of the schools, as well as their job placement and graduation rates. These and additional qualifiers should contribute toward your ultimate judgment when choosing a plumbing trade school. We will cover that checklist in more detail later in this post. But first, let's talk a little bit about becoming a plumber and the educational choices that are offered.
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 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.
Plumbing Certificate and Degree OptionsThere 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.
Topics to Ask Plumbing Training Schools
Once you have made a decision to obtain a certificate, diploma or degree, you can start to narrow down your school options. Considering that there are numerous plumbing tech and trade schools in the Gadsden AL area, it's imperative to have a checklist of criteria that each program must satisfy. The initial 2 that we talked about were location and the cost of tuition. And while both qualifiers may be critical when making your selection, there are other factors that must be considered as well. Below is a checklist of those added qualifications that you will need to research before choosing a plumber vocational school.
Is the Plumbing School Accredited? Many plumbing trade schools have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They may receive Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, for instance electrical technology. Confirm that the Gadsden AL school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping guarantee that you receive a superior education, it may help in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited schools. Also, some states mandate 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, another way of determining if a trade school you’re reiewing is reputable is by making sure that it’s properly licensed. Licensing is typically regulated and controlled by state agencies, such as the Alabama Department of Education. If you don’t know, ask the school which state agency regulates 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 percentage of students who enroll in and finish the program. A low completion rate might signify that students were disappointed with the program and quit. It may also signify 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 broader directory of graduates, which can result in more contacts for the school to employ for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only confirm that the school has a good reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of contacts to help graduates secure apprenticeships or jobs in the Gadsden AL area.
Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored? A large number of plumber training programs are taught along with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating vocational and trade programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of plumbing contractors or trade unions. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have working relationships with local Gadsden AL plumbers or plumbing companies. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by supplying hands-on training, but it also provides employment opportunities and helps to form relationships in the regional plumbing professional community.
Are there Modern Facilities? Make certain that the school facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are up-to-date 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 concerning what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Gadsden AL plumbing company if they can provide some pointers.
Where is the School Located? Unless you are willing to move, the school must be within driving distance of your Gadsden AL home. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there may 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 challenging in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor some of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and experience the interaction between teachers and students. Talk with a few of the students and get their opinions relating to class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk with a few of the instructors and find out what their level of experience is in Gadsden AL and what certifications or degrees they have earned.
Is the Class Schedule Convenient? Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are evaluating are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you are only able to attend classes at night or on weekends near Gadsden AL, check that the programs you are looking at offer those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, be sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Finally, find out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family issues.
Choose the Best Gadsden Plumbing Training School
Selecting the right plumbing trade school will probably be the most important decision you will make to begin your new trade. As we have addressed in this article, there are many factors that you will need to assess and compare between the training programs you are reviewing. It's a necessity that any plumbing training program that you are examining includes a good deal of hands-on instruction. Classes should be smaller in size and every student should have their own equipment to train with. Classroom teaching should provide a real-world frame of reference, and the course of study should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Courses vary in duration and the kind of credential provided, so you will have to decide what length of program and certificate or degree will best fulfill your needs. Every training program provides unique options for certification as well. Probably the best approach to research your final list of schools is to visit each campus and speak with the faculty and students. Invest some time to sit in on some classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the training program you decide on is the right one for you. With the proper training, hard work and dedication, you can become a professional plumber in Gadsden AL.