How to Choose the Right Plumbing Technical School near Hoover Alabama
The first step to learning to be a plumbing contractor or tradesman is finding a plumbing trade school near Hoover AL. But with so many vocational schools to pick from, just how do you tackle making certain that you enroll in the best one? Especially because there are a number of variables to consider. For example, some prospective students will start by searching for schools that are close to their home. When they have found some that are within driving range, they will decide on the one with the cheapest tuition. Although cost and location are of importance, they are not the sole things that must be evaluated. Also important are the reputations of the schools, their accreditation, in addition to their job placement and graduation rates. These and other qualifiers should contribute toward your final judgment when choosing a plumber trade school. We will cover that checklist in greater detail later in this post. But to begin with, let's talk a little bit about becoming a plumber and the instructional choices that are accessible.
Becoming 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 Hoover AL plumber will typically advance through three phases during their professional career.
- Apprentice. The majority of Hoover 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 Hoover 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 OptionsThere are several educational options available near Hoover 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.
Things to Ask Plumber Vocational Schools
Once you have made a decision to earn a diploma, certificate or degree, you can begin to focus your school options. Since there are so many plumbing trade and vocational schools in the Hoover AL region, it's important to have a checklist of criteria that each school must satisfy. The first 2 that we discussed were location and tuition expense. And while both qualifiers may be important when making your determination, there are additional factors that must be taken into account as well. Following is a checklist of those additional qualifications that you will need to analyze before selecting a plumber vocational school.
Is the Plumbing School Accredited? Numerous plumbing technical programs have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They may attain Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, for instance electrical technology. Make certain that the Hoover AL school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting organization, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping make certain that you receive an excellent education, it may help in securing financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable for non-accredited schools. Furthermore, many states mandate that the plumbing training program be accredited in order to be approved for certification or licensing.
Is the Plumbing School Licensed? Along with accreditation, an additional way of determining if a trade school you’re reiewing is reputable is by checking 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 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 Hoover 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 reviewing what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and finish the course. A lower completion rate may suggest that students were dissatisfied with the course and dropped out. It might also mean that the teachers were not qualified to train the students. It's also imperative that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive directory of graduates, which can result in more contacts for the school to utilize 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 field, but also that it has the network of contacts to assist grads obtain apprenticeships or jobs in the Hoover AL area.
Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored? Many plumber vocational programs are taught in conjunction with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating trade and vocational schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of plumbing businesses or trade unions. Check if the schools you are considering have working relationships with local Hoover AL plumbers or plumbing specialists. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by providing hands-on training, but it also supplies job opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the regional plumbing professional community.
Are there Modern Facilities? Confirm that the school facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are state-of-the-art and what you will be working with on the job. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the master plumber you are working under concerning what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Hoover AL plumbing contracting company if they can give you some pointers.
Where is the School Located? Unless you are able to relocate, the school must be within driving distance of your Hoover AL residence. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides the added moving costs there may be increased tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Are there Smaller Classes? It's desirable that you receive as much personalized training as possible, which can be difficult in larger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a couple of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and teachers. Speak with a few of the students and get their opinions concerning class sizes and instruction. Last, talk to a few of the teachers and learn what their level of experience is in Hoover AL and what degrees or certifications they hold.
Is the Class Schedule Convenient? Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are assessing are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you are only able to go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Hoover AL, confirm that the schools you are looking at provide those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, be sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family issues.
Choose the Right Hoover Plumber Vocational School
Choosing the best plumber training program will undoubtedly be the most critical decision you will make to begin your new trade. As we have addressed in this article, there are several things that you will need to examine and compare among the schools you are reviewing. It's a prerequisite that any plumber tech school that you are assessing 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 needs to provide a real-world frame of reference, and the curriculum should be current and conform with industry standards. Training programs vary in length and the kind of credential provided, so you will need to determine what length of program and credential will best satisfy your needs. Each program offers unique options for certification as well. Perhaps the best means to research your final list of schools is to visit each campus and talk with the students and instructors. Take the time to attend some classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the program you decide on is the ideal one for you. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, you can become a professional plumber in Hoover AL.