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How to Pick the Best Plumbing Tech School near Homewood Alabama

Homewood Alabama plumber fixing sink faucetThe first step to learning to be a plumbing tradesman or contractor is locating a plumbing trade school near Homewood AL. But with numerous vocational schools to select from, just how do you undertake making certain that you enroll in the ideal one? Especially since there are a number of variables to examine. For instance, some prospective students will start by searching for schools that are nearby their home. After they have located several that are within driving distance, they will select the one with the cheapest tuition. While location and cost are significant, they are not the sole qualifications that need to be examined. Also important are the reputations of the schools, their accreditation, as well as their graduation and job placement rates. These and other qualifiers should influence your final judgment when picking a plumber trade school. We will address that checklist in more detail later in this post. But first, let's talk a little bit about becoming a plumber and the training options that are offered.

What is a Plumber?

Homewood Alabama plumbing contractor repairing 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 Homewood AL plumber will typically advance through three phases during their professional career.

  • Apprentice. The majority of Homewood 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 Homewood 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 Homewood 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.

What to Ask Plumber Vocational Schools

Homewood Alabama plumbing contractor repairing hot water heater

When you have decided to obtain a diploma, certificate or degree, you can begin to focus your training options. Considering that there are so many plumbing vocational and trade schools in the Homewood AL area, it's essential to have a checklist of criteria that each program must satisfy. The first two that we discussed were location and tuition expense. And although both qualifiers may be crucial when making your determination, there are other variables that need to be taken into account also. Below is a checklist of those additional qualifiers that you will need to analyze prior to enrolling in a plumber trade school.

Is the Plumbing School Accredited?  A large number of plumbing technical programs have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They can receive 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 Homewood AL program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping make certain that you obtain an excellent education, it may assist in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. Furthermore, a number of states mandate that the plumbing training course be accredited in order to be approved for certification or licensing.

Is the Plumbing School Licensed?  In addition to accreditation, another way of determining if a trade school you’re considering 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 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 Homewood 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 considering what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage or portion of students who enroll in and finish the course. A low completion rate could indicate that students were dissatisfied with the course and dropped out. It might also indicate 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 may result in more contacts for the school to employ for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only validate that the school has an excellent reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of contacts to assist students obtain apprenticeships or employment in the Homewood AL area.

Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored?  Most plumber training programs are taught together with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating trade and technical schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of plumbing contractors or labor unions. Check if the schools you are comparing have working relationships with local Homewood AL plumbers or plumbing specialists. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by supplying hands-on training, but it also furnishes employment opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the regional plumbing professional community.

Are there Modern Facilities?  Make sure that the school facilities and the equipment that you will be trained 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 under regarding what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Homewood AL plumbing company if they can provide some suggestions.

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

Are there Smaller Classes?  It's desirable that you get as much individualized 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 students and teachers. Speak with several of the students and get their comments concerning class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk to some of the instructors and learn what their level of experience is in Homewood AL and what certifications or degrees they have earned.

Is the Class Schedule Convenient?  Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are assessing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you are only able to attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Homewood AL, check that the schools you are considering provide those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family issues.

Find Out More About Homewood Plumbing Vocational Schools

Enroll in the Best Homewood Plumber Vocational School

Selecting the right plumbing trade school will probably be the most important decision you will make to start your new profession. As we have covered in this article, there are several factors that you will need to examine and compare between the training programs you are considering. It's a prerequisite that any plumber training program that you are reviewing includes a good deal of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be smaller in size and every student must have their personal equipment to train with. Classroom instruction needs to provide a real-world context, and the curriculum should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Training programs vary in length and the kind of credential provided, so you will have to determine what length of program and credential will best satisfy your needs. Each program provides different options for certification as well. Perhaps the best means to research your final 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 certain that you are confident that the program you decide on is the right one for you. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, you can become a professional plumber in Homewood AL.