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How to Select the Best Plumber Training School near Huntsville Alabama

Huntsville Alabama plumber fixing kitchen sink faucetThe first step to becoming a plumbing tradesman or contractor is enrolling in a plumbing trade school near Huntsville AL. But with so many vocational schools to pick from, just how do you go about making certain that you enroll in the right one? Especially because there are a number of variables to consider. For instance, many potential students will begin by searching for schools that are nearby their residence. Once they have identified a few that are within driving range, they will decide on the one with the cheapest tuition. Although location and cost are of importance, they are not the only factors that should be evaluated. Also critical are the accreditation and reputations of the schools, in addition to their graduation and job placement rates. These and additional qualifications should influence your final decision when choosing a plumbing training school. We will discuss that checklist in more detail later in this article. But to begin with, let's talk a little bit about becoming a plumber and the training options that are accessible.

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 Options

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 diploma, certificate or degree, you can begin to focus your school options. Considering that there are so many plumbing vocational and trade schools in the Huntsville AL area, it's imperative to have a checklist of qualifications that each program must meet. The initial 2 that we mentioned were location and tuition expense. And although both qualifiers may be critical when making your decision, there are other factors that must be taken into account as well. Following is a checklist of those additional qualifications that you will need to assess prior to enrolling in a plumber vocational school.

Is the Plumbing School Accredited?  A large number of plumbing trade programs have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They can acquire Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, for example electrical technology. Make certain that the Huntsville AL program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping make certain that you receive a superior education, it can help in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently unavailable for non-accredited schools. Additionally, some states require that the plumbing training course be accredited for it to be approved 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 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 regulates 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 training programs you are looking at what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students who enroll in and finish the course. A low completion rate could suggest that students were unhappy 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 more extensive 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 confirm that the school has a good reputation within the trade, but additionally that it has the network of contacts to assist graduates obtain apprenticeships or jobs in the Huntsville AL area.

Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored?  Numerous plumber technical programs are taught together with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating trade and vocational schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of plumbing contractors or labor unions. Ask if the schools you are comparing have referring relationships with local Huntsville AL plumbers or plumbing contractors. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by furnishing practical training, but it also furnishes employment 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 on the job. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the master plumber you are working under regarding what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Huntsville AL plumbing contracting company if they can provide some suggestions.

Where is the School Located?  Unless you are willing to move, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Huntsville AL residence. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there can be increased tuition charges compared to in-state residents.

Are there Smaller Classes?  It's important that you receive as much individualized instruction as possible, which can be difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor a couple of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and experience the interaction between students and instructors. Speak to some of the students and get their opinions regarding class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak with a few of the teachers and find out what their level of experience is in Huntsville AL and what degrees or certifications they have earned.

Is the Class Schedule Convenient?  Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are assessing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you are only able to go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Huntsville AL, confirm that the schools you are comparing offer 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 protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family responsibilities.

Learn More About Huntsville Plumbing Vocational Schools

Enroll in the Right Huntsville Plumbing Vocational School

Picking the right plumbing training program will undoubtedly be the most critical decision you will make to begin your new trade. As we have discussed in this article, there are many things that you will need to evaluate and compare among the schools you are looking at. It's a prerequisite that any plumber training that you are considering includes a lot of hands-on training. Classes should be small in size and each student must have their own equipment to train with. Classroom teaching needs to provide a real-world context, and the curriculum should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Courses differ in duration and the kind of credential provided, so you will have to decide what length of program and degree or certificate will best serve your needs. Each program provides different possibilities for certification as well. Probably the best way to research your final list of schools is to check out each campus and speak with the faculty and students. Take the time to attend some classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the training program you decide on is the right one for you. With the right training, effort and commitment, you can become a professional plumber in Huntsville AL.