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How to Find the Best Plumber Vocational School near Huntsville Alabama

Huntsville Alabama plumbing contractor replacing kitchen faucetThe initial step to learning to be a plumbing contractor or tradesman is enrolling in a plumbing trade school near Huntsville AL. But with so many technical schools to pick from, just how do you undertake making sure that you enroll in the right one? Especially because there are so many factors to evaluate. For instance, many potential students will commence by looking for schools that are close to their home. Once they have identified several that are within commuting distance, they will pick the one with the cheapest tuition. Although location and cost are of importance, they are not the only factors that must be evaluated. Also critical are the accreditation and reputations of the schools, as well as their graduation and job placement rates. These and additional qualifiers should influence your ultimate decision when picking a plumber trade school. We will cover 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 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.

Plumbing Degree and Certificate 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.

Things to Ask Plumber Vocational Schools

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Now that you have made a decision to obtain a certificate, diploma or degree, you can start to refine your school options. Because there are numerous plumbing vocational and trade schools in the Huntsville AL region, it's imperative 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 important when making your selection, there are additional factors that must be considered as well. Following is a checklist of those additional qualifications that you will need to research prior to choosing a plumber tech school.

Is the Plumbing School Accredited?  Many plumbing vocational 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 pertains to an individual program, such as electrical technology. Confirm that the Huntsville AL school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping guarantee that you acquire an excellent education, it can assist in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. Additionally, some states mandate that the plumbing training program be accredited in order to be approved for certification or licensing.

Is the Plumbing School Licensed?  In addition to accreditation, an additional way of determining if a trade school you’re reiewing 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 considering what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage or portion of students who enroll in and complete the program. A low completion rate may suggest that students were dissatisfied with the course and dropped out. It might also mean that the instructors were not qualified to train the students. It's similarly important that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader directory of alumni, which can produce more contacts for the school to use for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only affirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of contacts to assist students acquire apprenticeships or jobs in the Huntsville AL area.

Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored?  Numerous plumber training programs are taught along with an apprenticeship or an internship 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 comparing have working partnerships with local Huntsville AL plumbers or plumbing contractors. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by furnishing practical training, but it also provides job opportunities and helps to form relationships in the local plumbing professional community.

Are there Modern Facilities?  Confirm that the school facilities and the tools that you will be trained on are up-to-date and what you will be working with in the field. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the master plumber you are working under concerning what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Huntsville AL plumbing contracting company if they can give you some pointers.

Where is the School Located?  Unless you are able to move, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Huntsville AL residence. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there might be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.

Are there Smaller Classes?  It's important that you get as much individualized instruction as possible, which can be challenging in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor a few of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and experience the interaction between instructors and students. Talk with several of the students and get their comments regarding class sizes and instruction. Last, talk with some of the instructors and learn what their level of experience is in Huntsville AL and what degrees or certifications they have earned.

Is the Class Schedule Convenient?  Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Huntsville AL, confirm that the schools you are looking at provide those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Additionally, check out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family emergencies.

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Pick the Right Huntsville Plumber Training School

Choosing the best plumbing training program will probably be the most critical decision you will make to start your new trade. As we have covered in this article, there are many factors that you will need to evaluate and compare among the training programs you are reviewing. It's a prerequisite that any plumber tech school that you are considering includes a lot of hands-on instruction. 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 course of study should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Courses vary in length and the type of credential offered, so you will have to ascertain what length of program and degree or certificate will best serve your needs. Each program offers different options for certification also. Probably the best means to research your short list of schools is to visit each campus and speak with the faculty and students. Invest some time to attend some classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the school you select is the right one for you. With the proper training, effort and dedication, you can become a professional plumber in Huntsville AL.