How to Select the Right Plumbing Course near Huntsville Alabama
The first step to becoming a plumbing contractor or tradesman is finding a plumbing trade school near Huntsville AL. But with numerous vocational schools to choose from, just how do you tackle making sure that you enroll in the best one? Especially because there are a number of factors to evaluate. For example, many potential students will start by searching for schools that are nearby their residence. After they have identified a few that are within driving range, they will decide on the one with the least expensive tuition. Although cost and location are of importance, they are not the sole factors that should be examined. Also critical are the accreditation and reputations of the schools, as well as their graduation and job placement rates. These and other qualifications should influence your final judgment when choosing 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 training choices that are accessible.
Becoming 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.
Plumbing Degree and Certificate 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.
Points to Ask Plumber Technical Schools
Now that you have made a decision to obtain a diploma, certificate or degree, you can start to refine your school options. Because there are so many plumbing vocational and trade schools in the Huntsville AL region, it's imperative to have a checklist of criteria that each school must satisfy. The initial two that we mentioned were location and tuition expense. And even though both qualifiers may be critical when making your determination, there are additional factors that need to be taken into account also. Below is a checklist of those additional qualifications that you will need to analyze before enrolling in a plumber tech school.
Is the Plumbing School Accredited? Many plumbing technical schools have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They can receive Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, such as electrical technology. Make certain that the Huntsville AL school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting agency, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping ensure that you obtain an excellent education, it can assist in securing financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable for non-accredited programs. Furthermore, many states require that the plumbing training course be accredited for it to qualify for certification or licensing.
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 don’t know, 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 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 looking at 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 could suggest that students were dissatisfied with the course and quit. It could also mean that the teachers were not qualified to instruct the students. It's similarly essential that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader list of graduates, which may result in more contacts for the school to employ for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only affirm that the school has a good reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of contacts to help graduates acquire apprenticeships or jobs in the Huntsville AL area.
Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored? A large number of plumber trade programs are taught together with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating technical and vocational schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of plumbing companies or trade unions. Check if the schools you are considering have working partnerships with local Huntsville AL plumbers or plumbing companies. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by furnishing hands-on training, but it also furnishes job opportunities and helps to build relationships in the area plumbing professional community.
Are there Modern Facilities? Make certain that the campus facilities and the tools that you will be instructed on are state-of-the-art 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 with concerning what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Huntsville AL plumbing contracting company if they can provide some pointers.
Where is the School Located? Unless you are willing to relocate, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Huntsville AL home. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added moving costs there can be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Are there Smaller Classes? It's important that you receive as much individualized training as possible, which can be challenging in bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a few of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between teachers and students. Speak with a few of the students and get their opinions relating to class sizes and instruction. Last, talk with some of the instructors and find out what their level of experience is in Huntsville AL and what certifications or degrees they have earned.
Is the Class Schedule Convenient? Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are reviewing are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you are only able to go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Huntsville AL, check that the schools you are reviewing provide those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family issues.
Choose the Right Huntsville Plumber Vocational School
Picking the right plumber trade school will undoubtedly be the most critical decision you will make to begin your new profession. As we have addressed in this article, there are a number of factors that you will need to assess and compare between the schools you are reviewing. It's a necessity that any plumber training program that you are reviewing includes a lot of hands-on training. Classes need to be small in size and every student must have their personal equipment to train with. Classroom teaching needs to provide a real-world perspective, and the training program should be current and in-line with industry standards. Courses vary in duration and the type of credential offered, so you will need to determine what length of program and credential will best fulfill your needs. Each training program offers unique options for certification as well. Perhaps The ideal way to research your short list of schools is to visit each campus and talk with the teachers and students. Take the time to attend a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the 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.