How to Choose the Best Plumbing Course near Huntsville Alabama
The first step to learning to be a plumbing tradesman or contractor is enrolling in a plumbing trade school near Huntsville AL. But with numerous technical schools to pick from, just how do you go about making certain that you enroll in the ideal one? Particularly since there are a number of variables to consider. For instance, many potential students will commence by looking for schools that are close to their residence. After they have found a few that are within driving distance, they will choose the one with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are important, they are not the sole qualifications that must be evaluated. Also critical are the reputations of the schools, their accreditation, as well as their graduation and job placement rates. These and additional qualifiers should help mold your ultimate decision when selecting 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 training choices 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 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 ProgramsThere 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.
Questions to Ask Plumber Technical Schools
Once you have decided to obtain 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 Huntsville AL region, it's essential to have a checklist of qualifications that each school must satisfy. The initial 2 that we mentioned were location and tuition expense. And although both qualifiers may be important when making your determination, there are other variables that must be taken into account also. Below is a checklist of those added qualifications that you will need to assess before enrolling in a plumber trade school.
Is the Plumbing School Accredited? Numerous plumbing technical programs have attained 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 relates to an individual program, for instance 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. In addition to helping ensure that you get a superior education, it can assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are frequently unavailable for non-accredited programs. Additionally, a number of states mandate that the plumbing training course be accredited for it to qualify for licensing or certification.
Is the Plumbing School Licensed? In addition to accreditation, another way of confirming that a trade 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 don’t know, 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 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 finish the course. A lower completion rate might suggest that students were dissatisfied with the course and dropped out. It could also indicate that the instructors were not competent to instruct the students. It's similarly imperative that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader list of alumni, which can 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 industry, but also that it has the network of contacts to help students secure apprenticeships or jobs in the Huntsville AL area.
Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored? Numerous plumber trade programs are taught along with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating vocational and trade programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of plumbing companies or labor unions. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have working partnerships with local Huntsville AL plumbers or plumbing contractors. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by providing practical training, but it also furnishes job opportunities and helps to form relationships in the local plumbing professional community.
Are there Modern Facilities? Confirm that the campus facilities and the tools that you will be instructed on are state-of-the-art and what you will be using in the field. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the master plumber you are working under regarding what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Huntsville AL plumbing company if they can give you some tips.
Where is the School Located? Unless you can move, the school must be within driving distance of your Huntsville AL residence. Take note that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides the added moving costs there might be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Are there Smaller Classes? It's desirable that you get as much one-on-one instruction as possible, which can be challenging in larger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a couple of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and teachers. Talk with several of the students and get their feedback concerning class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk to some of the instructors and find out what their level of experience is in Huntsville AL and what degrees or certifications they hold.
Is the Class Schedule Convenient? Make sure 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 Huntsville AL, confirm 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 allows part-time enrollment. Additionally, ask what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family issues.
Choose the Right Huntsville Plumbing Vocational School
Picking the right plumber training program will probably be the most critical decision you will make to launch your new trade. As we have discussed in this article, there are several factors that you will need to examine and compare between the schools you are considering. It's a necessity that any plumbing tech school that you are considering includes a lot of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be smaller in size and every student must have their personal equipment to train with. Classroom teaching should provide a real-world perspective, and the course of study should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Courses vary in length and the kind of credential provided, so you will need to ascertain what length of program and credential will best satisfy your needs. Every program offers different options for certification also. Probably the best way to research your short list of schools is to go to each campus and speak with the students and instructors. Invest some time to sit in on a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the training program you choose is the best one for you. With the proper training, effort and dedication, you can become a professional plumber in Huntsville AL.