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How to Pick the Best Plumbing Vocational School near Huntsville Alabama

Huntsville Alabama plumber replacing kitchen sink faucetThe initial step to learning to be a plumbing tradesman or contractor is locating a plumbing trade school near Huntsville AL. But with so many vocational schools to choose from, just how do you go about making sure that you enroll in the best one? Especially since there are so many factors to examine. For example, some potential students will begin by looking for schools that are nearby their residence. Once they have located several that are within driving distance, they will choose the one with the lowest tuition. Even though cost and location are significant, they are not the only qualifications that must be considered. Also important are the reputations of the schools, their accreditation, as well as their graduation and job placement rates. These and other qualifications should influence your ultimate judgment when selecting a plumber training school. We will discuss that checklist in more detail later in this post. But to begin with, let's talk a little bit about becoming a plumber and the training options that are offered.

What is 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 Huntsville AL plumber will typically advance through three phases during their professional career.

  • Apprentice. The majority of Huntsville 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 Huntsville 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 Programs

There are several educational options available near Huntsville 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.

Topics to Ask Plumbing Training Schools

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Now that you have decided to obtain a certificate, diploma or degree, you can begin to refine your training options. Because there are numerous plumbing vocational and trade schools in the Huntsville AL region, it's important to have a checklist of qualifications that each school must meet. The initial two that we discussed were location and the cost of tuition. And although both qualifiers may be critical when making your decision, there are additional factors that must be considered as well. Below is a checklist of those additional qualifications that you will need to research prior to choosing a plumber trade school.

Is the Plumbing School Accredited?  Many plumbing trade programs have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They may acquire Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, for example electrical technology. Confirm that the Huntsville AL school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting organization, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping ensure that you receive an excellent education, it may assist in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are frequently unavailable for non-accredited schools. Furthermore, some 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 trade school you’re considering is reputable is by making sure that it’s properly licensed.  Licensing is usually 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 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 Huntsville 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 complete the course. A low completion rate may signify that students were disappointed with the course and quit. It could also suggest that the teachers were not qualified to instruct the students. It's similarly imperative that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader list of alumni, 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 validate that the school has an excellent reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of contacts to assist grads obtain apprenticeships or jobs in the Huntsville AL area.

Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored?  Numerous plumber trade programs are taught in conjunction 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 businesses or labor unions. Check if the schools you are reviewing have working relationships with local Huntsville AL plumbers or plumbing companies. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by supplying practical training, but it also furnishes job opportunities and helps to build relationships in the regional plumbing professional community.

Are there Modern Facilities?  Confirm that the school facilities and the tools that you will be instructed on are state-of-the-art and what you will be using on the job. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the master plumber you are working under concerning what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Huntsville AL plumbing contractor if they can give you some pointers.

Where is the School Located?  Unless you can move, the school must be within driving distance of your Huntsville AL residence. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there might be higher tuition fees 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 bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor some of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and experience the interaction between students and instructors. Talk with several of the students and get their opinions concerning class sizes and instruction. Last, speak to a few of the teachers and learn what their level of experience is in Huntsville AL and what degrees or certifications they hold.

Is the Class Schedule Convenient?  Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you are only able to attend classes at night or on weekends near Huntsville AL, check that the programs you are looking at offer those choices. If you can only attend part-time, make certain that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Additionally, ask what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family emergencies.

Learn More About Huntsville Plumbing Trade Schools

Enroll in the Right Huntsville Plumbing Trade School

Picking the ideal plumbing training program will probably be the most important decision you will make to begin your new career. As we have covered in this article, there are a number of factors that you will need to evaluate and compare among the training programs you are considering. It's a must that any plumber training that you are reviewing includes a good deal of hands-on training. Classes should be smaller in size and each student should have their personal equipment to train with. Classroom instruction should provide a real-world perspective, and the curriculum should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Courses differ in duration and the kind of credential offered, so you will need to decide what length of program and credential will best fulfill your needs. Every training program provides unique possibilities for certification as well. Probably The ideal way to research your final list of schools is to check out each campus and talk with the students and instructors. Invest some time to monitor some classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the school you decide on is the ideal one for you. With the proper training, effort and dedication, you can become a professional plumber in Huntsville AL.