How to Enroll in the Right Plumbing Vocational School near Hoover Alabama
The first step to learning to be a plumbing tradesman or contractor is finding a plumbing trade school near Hoover AL. But with so many vocational schools to pick from, just how do you go about making sure that you enroll in the ideal one? Especially because there are a number of points to consider. For example, some students will start by looking for schools that are close to their home. Once they have identified several that are within driving range, they will decide on the one with the cheapest tuition. Although location and cost are significant, they are not the sole factors that must be considered. Also critical are the reputations of the schools, their accreditation, in addition to their graduation and job placement rates. These and additional qualifications should influence your ultimate judgment when selecting a plumber training school. We will talk about that checklist in greater detail later in this article. But first, let's talk 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 Certificate and Degree 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 Plumber Tech Schools
Now that you have decided to earn a diploma, certificate or degree, you can start to narrow down your school options. Because there are so many plumbing tech and trade schools in the Hoover AL region, it's important to have a checklist of qualifications that each program must satisfy. The first 2 that we discussed were location and tuition expense. And while both qualifiers may be critical when making your decision, there are other variables that need to be considered as well. Below is a checklist of those additional qualifications that you will need to research prior to enrolling in a plumber tech school.
Is the Plumbing School Accredited? Many plumbing trade programs have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They may earn Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, for instance electrical technology. Make certain that the Hoover AL program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping guarantee that you get a quality education, it can help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. Also, 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, another way of determining if a vocational school you’re considering is reputable is by making sure 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 regulates 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 training programs you are considering what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and finish the course. A low completion rate could suggest that students were dissatisfied with the program and quit. It could also signify that the teachers 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 graduates, which may produce more contacts for the school to use for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only confirm that the school has a good reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of contacts to assist students acquire apprenticeships or jobs in the Hoover AL area.
Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored? Most plumber vocational programs are taught along with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating vocational and trade schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of plumbing companies or trade unions. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have referring partnerships with local Hoover AL plumbers or plumbing companies. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by furnishing hands-on training, but it also supplies employment opportunities and helps to form relationships in the regional plumbing professional community.
Are there Modern Facilities? Make sure 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, talk to the master plumber you are working with concerning what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Hoover AL plumbing contractor if they can provide some tips.
Where is the School Located? Unless you are able to move, the school must be within commuting distance of your Hoover AL home. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there might be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Are there Smaller Classes? It's desirable that you receive as much personalized instruction as possible, which can be challenging in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor a few of the classes so that you can see how large they are and experience the interaction between students and teachers. Talk with some of the students and get their comments relating to class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak with a few of the teachers and find out what their level of experience is in Hoover AL and what degrees or certifications they have earned.
Is the Class Schedule Convenient? Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are reviewing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you are only able to attend classes at night or on weekends near Hoover AL, check that the programs you are comparing offer those options. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Also, check out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Hoover Plumber Trade School
Choosing the best plumbing training program will undoubtedly be the most critical decision you will make to begin your new trade. As we have discussed in this article, there are several things that you will need to assess and compare among the training programs you are reviewing. It's a must that any plumber training that you are considering includes a lot of hands-on instruction. Classes should be smaller in size and every student should have their personal equipment to train with. Classroom teaching needs to offer a real-world perspective, and the training program should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Programs vary in duration and the type of credential provided, so you will have to determine what length of program and certificate or degree will best fulfill your needs. Every program provides different options for certification also. Probably the best means to research your short list of schools is to go to each campus and speak with the students and faculty. Invest some time to sit in on a few classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the school you pick is the ideal one for you. With the proper training, effort and commitment, you can become a professional plumber in Hoover AL.