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How to Find the Best Plumbing Tech School near Homewood Alabama

Homewood Alabama plumbing contractor fixing sink faucetThe first step to becoming a plumbing tradesman or contractor is locating a plumbing trade school near Homewood AL. But with numerous technical schools to choose from, just how do you tackle making sure that you enroll in the right one? Particularly because there are so many factors to examine. For example, many prospective students will start by looking for schools that are nearby their home. Once they have located some that are within driving range, they will choose the one with the cheapest tuition. Although cost and location are of importance, they are not the only factors that must be evaluated. Also critical are the accreditation and reputations of the schools, in addition to their job placement and graduation rates. These and additional qualifications should help mold your final judgment when selecting a plumber training school. We will discuss that checklist in more detail later in this article. But first, let's review a little bit about becoming a plumber and the training options that are accessible.

What is a Plumber?

Homewood 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 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 Options

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 Plumber Tech Schools

Homewood Alabama plumber repairing water heater

When you have made a decision to obtain a certificate, diploma or degree, you can begin to refine your school options. Considering that there are so many plumbing vocational and trade schools in the Homewood AL region, it's imperative to have a checklist of qualifications that each school must meet. The initial two that we discussed were location and tuition expense. And although both qualifiers may be critical when making your selection, there are additional factors that need to be considered also. Following is a checklist of those additional qualifications that you will need to analyze prior to selecting a plumber trade school.

Is the Plumbing School Accredited?  A large number of plumbing vocational programs have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They can receive Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, for instance electrical technology. Confirm that the Homewood AL program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping guarantee that you obtain a quality education, it may help in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are often unavailable for non-accredited schools. Furthermore, many states require that the plumbing training course be accredited for it to be approved for certification or licensing.

Is the Plumbing School Licensed?  In addition to accreditation, an additional way of confirming that a vocational 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’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 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 portion or percentage of students who enroll in and complete the course. A low completion rate may suggest that students were dissatisfied with the course and quit. It could also mean that the teachers were not qualified to instruct the students. It's similarly essential that the schools have higher 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 use for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only affirm that the school has a good reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of contacts to help grads acquire apprenticeships or jobs in the Homewood AL area.

Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored?  A large number of plumber training programs are taught in conjunction with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating technical and vocational programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of plumbing companies or labor unions. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have working relationships with local Homewood AL plumbers or plumbing companies. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by furnishing practical 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 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 currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the master plumber you are working with regarding what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Homewood AL plumbing contracting company if they can give you some pointers.

Where is the School Located?  Unless you can relocate, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Homewood AL home. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there might be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.

Are there Smaller Classes?  It's important that you receive as much one-on-one instruction as possible, which can be difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor a couple of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and witness first hand the interaction between teachers and students. Talk with several of the students and get their comments relating to class sizes and instruction. Last, talk to some of the teachers and learn what their level of experience is in Homewood AL and what degrees or certifications 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 attend classes at night or on weekends near Homewood AL, verify that the programs you are reviewing offer those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Also, check out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family emergencies.

Find Out More About Homewood Plumbing Tech Schools

Pick the Right Homewood Plumbing Vocational School

Choosing the ideal plumber trade school will probably be the most critical decision you will make to begin your new profession. As we have addressed in this article, there are a number of factors that you will need to evaluate and compare among the schools you are looking at. It's a necessity that any plumbing training program that you are reviewing includes a lot of hands-on training. Classes should be smaller in size and every student must have their personal equipment to train with. Classroom instruction needs to offer a real-world perspective, and the course of study should be current and conform with industry standards. Courses vary in length and the type of credential provided, so you will have to determine what length of program and certificate or degree will best satisfy your needs. Every training program provides different options for certification as well. Probably The ideal way to research your short list of schools is to visit each campus and talk with the faculty and students. Invest some time to monitor a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the school you decide on is the best one for you. With the right training, effort and commitment, you can become a professional plumber in Homewood AL.