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How to Choose the Right Plumber Tech School near Huntsville Alabama

Huntsville Alabama plumbing contractor installing kitchen sink faucetThe first step to learning to be a plumbing contractor or tradesman is locating a plumbing trade school near Huntsville AL. But with numerous technical schools to select from, just how do you tackle making sure that you enroll in the ideal one? Particularly because there are a number of factors to examine. For example, many potential students will commence by searching for schools that are close to their residence. Once they have located several that are within commuting range, they will pick the one with the cheapest tuition. Although cost and location are important, they are not the only things that should be evaluated. Also important are the reputations of the schools, their accreditation, as well as their graduation and job placement rates. These and other qualifiers should contribute toward your ultimate decision when picking a plumbing trade school. We will talk about that checklist in greater detail later in this post. But first, let's talk a little bit about becoming a plumber and the educational options that are accessible.

What is a Plumber?

Huntsville Alabama plumber adjusting water 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 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.

Plumbing 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.

Points to Ask Plumber Tech Schools

Huntsville Alabama plumber replacing water heater

Now that you have decided to earn a certificate, diploma or degree, you can start to focus your school options. Considering that there are numerous plumbing tech and trade schools in the Huntsville AL region, it's important to have a checklist of qualifications that each program must satisfy. The initial two that we mentioned were location and the cost of tuition. And while both qualifiers may be important when making your decision, there are other variables that need to be considered also. 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?  A large number of plumbing trade programs have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They may earn Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, such as electrical technology. Make certain that the Huntsville AL school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping make certain that you acquire a superior education, it may help in securing financial aid or student loans, which are frequently unavailable for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of states mandate that the plumbing training course be accredited in order to qualify for licensing or certification.

Is the Plumbing School Licensed?  In addition to accreditation, an additional way of determining if a vocational school you’re reiewing is reputable is by checking that it’s properly licensed.  Licensing is usually 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 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 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 low completion rate could signify that students were disappointed with the course and dropped out. It could also suggest that the teachers were not qualified to train the students. It's also essential that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader directory of graduates, which may mean 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 trade, but additionally that it has the network of contacts to help grads obtain apprenticeships or jobs in the Huntsville AL area.

Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored?  Numerous plumber training programs are taught in conjunction with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating technical and vocational programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of plumbing contractors or trade unions. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have referring partnerships with local Huntsville AL plumbers or plumbing contractors. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by furnishing hands-on training, but it also provides employment opportunities and helps to build relationships in the area plumbing professional community.

Are there Modern Facilities?  Make sure that the school facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are state-of-the-art and what you will be using in the field. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the master plumber you are working with regarding what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Huntsville AL plumbing company if they can provide some tips.

Where is the School Located?  Unless you are willing to move, the school must be within driving distance of your Huntsville AL home. Take note that if you decide to attend 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 important that you receive as much personalized instruction as possible, which can be difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on some of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and teachers. Talk with a few of the students and get their opinions regarding class sizes and instruction. Last, talk to a few of the teachers and learn what their level of experience is in Huntsville AL and what certifications or degrees they hold.

Is the Class Schedule Convenient?  Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Huntsville AL, verify that the schools you are comparing provide those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Additionally, check out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family emergencies.

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Enroll in the Right Huntsville Plumber Vocational School

Selecting the right plumbing training program will probably be the most important decision you will make to launch your new career. As we have addressed in this article, there are a number of things that you will need to assess and compare between the schools you are reviewing. It's a necessity that any plumbing tech school that you are evaluating includes a good deal of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be smaller in size and every student must have their own equipment to train with. Classroom instruction needs to offer a real-world context, and the training program should be current and conform with industry standards. Courses vary in duration and the kind of credential offered, so you will need to ascertain what length of program and credential will best fulfill your needs. Each 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 speak with the students and faculty. Invest some time to monitor some classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the training program you decide on is the best one for you. With the right training, hard work and commitment, you can become a professional plumber in Huntsville AL.