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How to Enroll in the Right Plumber Tech School near Homewood Alabama

Homewood Alabama plumbing contractor installing kitchen faucetThe initial 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 pick from, just how do you tackle making certain that you enroll in the best one? Particularly because there are so many variables to consider. For instance, some potential students will commence by searching for schools that are nearby their residence. Once they have found several that are within driving distance, they will choose the one with the least expensive tuition. Although location and cost are important, they are not the only things that must be examined. Also important are the accreditation and reputations of the schools, in addition to their job placement and graduation rates. These and additional qualifiers should help mold your final judgment when picking a plumber trade school. We will discuss that checklist in greater detail later in this article. 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 plumber adjusting sink 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.

Plumbing 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.

Points to Ask Plumbing Training Schools

Homewood Alabama plumbing contractor repairing water heater

When you have decided to earn a diploma, certificate or degree, you can start to narrow down your training options. Considering that there are so many plumbing tech and trade schools in the Homewood AL region, it's essential to have a checklist of qualifications that each program must meet. The initial two that we mentioned were location and tuition expense. And although both qualifiers may be crucial when making your determination, there are additional variables that must be taken into account as well. Following is a checklist of those added qualifiers that you will need to research prior to choosing a plumber technical school.

Is the Plumbing School Accredited?  A large number of plumbing technical programs have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They may receive Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, for instance electrical technology. Make sure that the Homewood AL school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting agency, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping guarantee that you acquire a quality education, it may assist in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently unavailable for non-accredited programs. Additionally, some states require that the plumbing training program be accredited for it to qualify for licensing or certification.

Is the Plumbing School Licensed?  Along with accreditation, an additional way of determining if a vocational school you’re reiewing 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 is responsible for 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 schools you are reviewing what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students who enroll in and finish the course. A lower completion rate might indicate that students were dissatisfied with the course and dropped out. It could also signify that the teachers were not competent to instruct the students. It's similarly essential that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive list of graduates, which may mean more contacts for the school to use for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only confirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of contacts to assist grads acquire apprenticeships or employment in the Homewood AL area.

Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored?  Most plumber trade programs are taught together 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 companies or trade unions. Check if the schools you are reviewing have referring partnerships with local Homewood AL plumbers or plumbing companies. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by furnishing hands-on training, but it also furnishes employment opportunities and helps to build relationships in the regional plumbing professional community.

Are there Modern Facilities?  Confirm that the campus facilities and the tools that you will be trained on are up-to-date and what you will be using on the job. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the master plumber you are working with concerning what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Homewood AL plumbing contractor if they can provide some pointers.

Where is the School Located?  Unless you are able to move, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Homewood AL home. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there may be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.

Are there Smaller Classes?  It's desirable that you receive as much one-on-one instruction as possible, which can be difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a few of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and teachers. Talk with several of the students and get their comments concerning class sizes and instruction. Last, talk with a few of the teachers and learn what their level of experience is in Homewood AL and what certifications or degrees they hold.

Is the Class Schedule Convenient?  Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you are only able to go to classes at night or on weekends near Homewood AL, check that the schools you are reviewing provide those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, be sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Finally, ask what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family responsibilities.

Find Out More About Homewood Plumber Vocational Schools

Enroll in the Right Homewood Plumber Training School

Choosing the best plumbing training program will undoubtedly be the most important decision you will make to begin your new profession. As we have addressed in this article, there are several things that you will need to evaluate and compare between the training programs you are considering. It's a prerequisite that any plumbing tech school that you are considering includes a lot of hands-on training. Classes need to be small in size and every student must have their own equipment to train with. Classroom instruction should offer a real-world context, and the curriculum should be current and conform with industry standards. Courses vary in duration and the kind of credential provided, so you will have to determine what length of program and certificate or degree will best serve your needs. Every program offers unique possibilities for certification also. Probably the best approach to research your short list of schools is to go to each campus and talk with the students and instructors. Take the time to monitor a few classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the training program you select is the right one for you. With the proper training, hard work and dedication, you can become a professional plumber in Homewood AL.