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How to Pick the Right Plumber Training near Hoover Alabama

Hoover Alabama plumbing contractor fixing sink faucetThe initial step to becoming a plumbing tradesman or contractor is enrolling in a plumbing trade school near Hoover AL. But with numerous technical schools to pick from, just how do you go about making certain that you enroll in the best one? Especially because there are so many factors to consider. For example, many prospective students will start by searching for schools that are nearby their residence. When they have found a few that are within driving distance, they will decide on the one with the most affordable tuition. While location and cost are of importance, they are not the only factors that should be evaluated. Also critical are the reputations of the schools, their accreditation, as well as their graduation and job placement rates. These and other qualifiers should help mold your ultimate judgment when choosing a plumbing training school. We will address 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 educational choices that are accessible.

Becoming a Plumber

Hoover Alabama plumbing contractor 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 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.

Plumbing Degree and Certificate Programs

There 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.

Questions to Ask Plumbing Trade Schools

Hoover Alabama plumber replacing water heater

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 tech and trade schools in the Hoover AL region, it's essential to have a checklist of qualifications that each program must meet. The first two that we talked about were location and the cost of tuition. And although both qualifiers may be crucial when making your selection, there are other factors that need to be taken into account as well. Below is a checklist of those additional qualifiers that you will need to assess prior to enrolling in a plumber tech school.

Is the Plumbing School Accredited?  Many plumbing trade programs have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They can earn Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, for example electrical technology. Verify that the Hoover AL program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping guarantee that you obtain an excellent education, it may help in securing financial aid or student loans, which are often unavailable for non-accredited schools. Furthermore, some states require 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 vocational 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’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 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 schools you are reviewing what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage or portion of students who enroll in and finish the course. A lower completion rate could indicate that students were unhappy with the course and quit. It could also signify that the instructors were not qualified to instruct the students. It's also essential that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive directory of alumni, which may result in more contacts for the school to utilize 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 industry, but also that it has the network of contacts to help graduates acquire apprenticeships or employment in the Hoover AL area.

Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored?  Numerous plumber trade programs are taught together with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating vocational and trade programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of plumbing businesses or labor unions. Ask if the schools you are comparing have referring partnerships with local Hoover AL plumbers or plumbing contractors. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by supplying hands-on training, but it also furnishes job opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the area plumbing professional community.

Are there Modern Facilities?  Make sure that the school facilities and the tools that you will be instructed on are state-of-the-art and what you will be working with in the field. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the master plumber you are working with concerning what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Hoover AL plumbing company if they can give you some tips.

Where is the School Located?  Unless you can relocate, the school must be within driving distance of your Hoover AL residence. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there can be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.

Are there Smaller Classes?  It's important that you receive as much personalized instruction as possible, which can be challenging in bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a few of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and experience the interaction between students and instructors. Speak with some of the students and get their comments regarding class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak to some of the teachers and learn what their level of experience is in Hoover AL and what certifications or degrees they hold.

Is the Class Schedule Convenient?  Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are evaluating are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you are only able to attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Hoover AL, check that the schools you are considering offer those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, be sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Finally, 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 Hoover Plumbing Trade Schools

Pick the Best Hoover Plumber Training School

Picking the best plumbing training program will undoubtedly be the most critical decision you will make to launch your new career. As we have addressed in this article, there are many things that you will need to assess and compare between the schools you are looking at. It's a prerequisite that any plumber training that you are evaluating includes a lot of hands-on instruction. Classes should be small in size and every student must have their own equipment to train with. Classroom education should provide a real-world context, and the course of study should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Training programs vary in length and the type of credential provided, so you will need to ascertain what length of program and degree or certificate will best satisfy your needs. Every training program provides unique possibilities for certification also. Perhaps the best means to research your short list of schools is to visit each campus and speak with the faculty and students. Take the time to attend some classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the program you select is the best one for you. With the right training, hard work and commitment, you can become a professional plumber in Hoover AL.