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How to Pick the Right Plumbing Vocational School near Homewood Alabama

Homewood Alabama plumber repairing kitchen sink faucetThe first step to becoming a plumbing contractor or tradesman is enrolling in a plumbing trade school near Homewood AL. But with numerous technical schools to pick from, just how do you go about making certain that you enroll in the ideal one? Especially because there are a number of variables to consider. For instance, many prospective students will commence by searching for schools that are nearby their home. After they have found a few that are within commuting range, they will decide on the one with the lowest tuition. Even though location and cost are of importance, they are not the sole qualifications that need to be examined. Also critical are the reputations of the schools, their accreditation, as well as their job placement and graduation rates. These and additional qualifiers should help mold your ultimate decision when choosing a plumbing trade school. We will discuss that checklist in greater detail later in this article. But to begin with, let's review a little bit about becoming a plumber and the educational options that are available.

Becoming a Plumber

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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 Degree and Certificate 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 plumber installing hot water heater

Now that you have decided to obtain a certificate, diploma or degree, you can begin to narrow down your school options. Since there are numerous plumbing tech and trade schools in the Homewood AL area, it's important to have a checklist of criteria that each program must satisfy. The initial two that we discussed were location and the cost of tuition. And even though both qualifiers may be critical when making your determination, there are other factors that need to be considered as well. Below is a checklist of those additional qualifications that you will need to research prior to selecting a plumber vocational school.

Is the Plumbing School Accredited?  Numerous plumbing technical programs have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They may acquire Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, for instance electrical technology. Make certain that the Homewood AL program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping guarantee that you acquire a superior education, it can help in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases not available for non-accredited programs. Furthermore, many states require that the plumbing training program be accredited in order to qualify for licensing or certification.

Is the Plumbing School Licensed?  In addition to accreditation, an additional way of determining if a trade school you’re considering is reputable is by making sure that it’s properly licensed.  Licensing is typically controlled and regulated by state agencies, such as the Alabama Department of Education.  If you don’t know, 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 considering what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and finish the course. A lower completion rate might signify that students were dissatisfied with the course and dropped out. It might also indicate that the teachers were not competent to train the students. It's similarly imperative that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader directory of graduates, which may mean more contacts for the school to employ for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only confirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of contacts to help graduates acquire apprenticeships or employment in the Homewood AL area.

Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored?  Many plumber trade programs are taught together with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating trade and vocational programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of plumbing businesses or trade unions. Ask if the schools you are comparing have working partnerships with local Homewood AL plumbers or plumbing companies. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by providing practical training, but it also furnishes job opportunities and helps to form relationships in the area plumbing professional community.

Are there Modern Facilities?  Make certain that the campus facilities and the tools that you will be instructed on are up-to-date and what you will be using on the job. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the master plumber you are working under regarding what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Homewood AL plumbing contractor if they can provide some suggestions.

Where is the School Located?  Unless you are willing to move, the school must be within commuting distance of your Homewood AL home. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there can be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.

Are there Smaller Classes?  It's important that you receive as much one-on-one training as possible, which can be challenging in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor a few of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and experience the interaction between teachers and students. Talk to several of the students and get their comments relating to class sizes and instruction. Last, speak 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?  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 in the evening or on weekends near Homewood AL, confirm that the programs you are considering offer those choices. If you can only attend part-time, be sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family responsibilities.

Find Out More About Homewood Plumbing Trade Schools

Choose the Right Homewood Plumbing Trade School

Selecting the right plumber training program will probably be the most critical decision you will make to begin your new trade. As we have discussed in this article, there are a number of things that you will need to assess and compare between the schools you are looking at. It's a necessity that any plumber training program that you are reviewing includes a considerable amount of hands-on training. Classes should be smaller in size and each student must have their own equipment to train with. Classroom instruction should provide a real-world context, and the course of study should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Courses differ in duration and the type of credential provided, so you will have to decide what length of program and certificate or degree will best satisfy your needs. Every training program offers unique options for certification also. Perhaps the best approach to research your final list of schools is to check out each campus and talk with the teachers and students. Take the time to attend a few classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the training program you choose is the right one for you. With the right training, effort and dedication, you can become a professional plumber in Homewood AL.