How to Enroll in the Best Plumbing Vocational School near Hoover Alabama
The first 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 approach making sure that you enroll in the best one? Particularly because there are a number of variables to consider. For instance, many students will commence by searching for schools that are nearby their residence. After they have located some that are within driving range, they will select the one with the cheapest tuition. Although location and cost are significant, they are not the sole factors that should be examined. Also important are the accreditation and reputations of the schools, as well as their job placement and graduation rates. These and other qualifiers should contribute toward your final decision when choosing a plumbing trade school. We will discuss that checklist in greater detail later in this article. But first, let's review a little bit about becoming a plumber and the instructional options that are available.
What is 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.
Plumbing Degree and Certificate ProgramsThere 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 Technical Schools
When you have made a decision to earn a certificate, diploma or degree, you can begin to refine your training options. Considering that there are so many plumbing tech and trade schools in the Hoover AL region, it's imperative to have a checklist of criteria that each school must satisfy. The initial 2 that we discussed were location and the cost of tuition. And while both qualifiers may be crucial when making your selection, there are other variables that need to be considered as well. Below is a checklist of those added qualifiers that you will need to research before selecting a plumber tech school.
Is the Plumbing School Accredited? Many plumbing vocational schools have attained 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 pertains to a specific program, such as electrical technology. Confirm that the Hoover AL school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping guarantee that you acquire an excellent education, it can help in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. Also, many states require that the plumbing training course 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 considering is reputable is by checking that it’s properly licensed. Licensing is usually regulated and controlled 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 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 looking at what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage or portion of students who enroll in and finish the program. A lower completion rate might suggest that students were dissatisfied with the course and quit. It might also signify that the teachers were not competent 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 alumni, which can mean more contacts for the school to employ 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 graduates obtain apprenticeships or employment in the Hoover AL area.
Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored? Many plumber technical programs are taught together with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating vocational and technical programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of plumbing companies or trade unions. Ask if the schools you are considering have working relationships with local Hoover AL plumbers or plumbing contractors. 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? 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 currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the master plumber you are working under regarding what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Hoover AL plumbing company if they can give you some tips.
Where is the School Located? Unless you are able to relocate, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Hoover AL home. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there can be increased tuition charges 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 challenging in larger classes. Ask if you can sit in on some of the classes so that you can see how big they are and witness first hand the interaction between instructors and students. Talk to some of the students and get their opinions concerning class sizes and instruction. Last, talk to a few of the instructors and find out 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 schools you are evaluating are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you are only able to go to classes at night or on weekends near Hoover AL, confirm that the schools you are considering offer those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family responsibilities.
Pick the Best Hoover Plumbing Vocational School
Choosing the best plumbing training program will probably be the most important decision you will make to launch your new profession. As we have discussed in this article, there are many factors that you will need to assess and compare among the training programs you are looking at. It's a must that any plumbing training program that you are considering includes a lot of hands-on training. Classes need to be small in size and every student should have their own equipment to train with. Classroom education should offer a real-world context, and the curriculum should be current and in-line with industry standards. Courses vary in duration and the type of credential offered, so you will need to ascertain what length of program and certificate or degree will best satisfy your needs. Each training program offers different 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 faculty and students. Take the time to monitor a few classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the training program you decide on is the right one for you. With the right training, hard work and dedication, you can become a professional plumber in Hoover AL.