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How to Choose the Best Plumber Tech School near Huntsville Alabama

Huntsville Alabama plumbing contractor fixing kitchen sink faucetThe first step to becoming a plumbing contractor or tradesman is locating a plumbing trade school near Huntsville AL. But with so many vocational schools to choose from, just how do you approach making sure that you enroll in the right one? Especially since there are a number of variables to examine. For example, many potential students will commence by looking for schools that are close to their residence. After they have found several that are within driving range, they will choose the one with the most affordable tuition. While location and cost are important, they are not the only things that must be examined. Also important are the reputations of the schools, their accreditation, as well as their graduation and job placement rates. These and other qualifiers should help mold your final decision when choosing a plumbing trade school. We will discuss that checklist in more detail later in this post. But to begin with, let's review a little bit about becoming a plumber and the training choices that are accessible.

Becoming 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 Certificate and Degree 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.

Points to Ask Plumber Tech Schools

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Once you have made a decision to earn a diploma, certificate or degree, you can begin to focus your training options. Because there are so many plumbing trade and vocational schools in the Huntsville AL region, it's essential to have a checklist of criteria that each school must satisfy. The initial two that we discussed were location and tuition expense. And although both qualifiers may be critical when making your decision, there are other variables that must be considered also. Below is a checklist of those additional qualifications that you will need to assess prior to selecting a plumber vocational school.

Is the Plumbing School Accredited?  Numerous plumbing technical schools have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They can attain Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, for instance electrical technology. Make certain that the Huntsville AL program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting organization, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping ensure that you receive a superior education, it may assist in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases not available for non-accredited schools. Additionally, some states require that the plumbing training program be accredited for it 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 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’re not sure, 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 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 might also signify that the teachers were not competent to instruct the students. It's similarly imperative that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive directory 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 confirm that the school has a good reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of contacts to assist grads secure apprenticeships or employment in the Huntsville AL area.

Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored?  Most plumber trade programs are taught in conjunction with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating technical and vocational programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of plumbing companies or trade unions. Check if the schools you are comparing have working partnerships with local Huntsville AL plumbers or plumbing contractors. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by supplying practical training, but it also supplies employment opportunities and helps to form relationships in the regional plumbing professional community.

Are there Modern Facilities?  Make sure that the campus facilities and the tools that you will be trained on are up-to-date and what you will be using on the job. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the master plumber you are working with concerning what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Huntsville AL plumbing contracting company if they can provide some suggestions.

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

Are there Smaller Classes?  It's desirable that you receive as much one-on-one training as possible, which can be difficult in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor a couple of the classes so that you can see how big they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and teachers. Talk with several of the students and get their comments regarding class sizes and instruction. Last, speak to a few of the instructors and learn what their level of experience is in Huntsville AL and what certifications or degrees they hold.

Is the Class Schedule Convenient?  Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you are only able to attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Huntsville AL, confirm that the programs you are looking at provide those choices. If you can only attend part-time, be sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Finally, find out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family emergencies.

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Enroll in the Right Huntsville Plumbing Training School

Picking the best plumber trade school will probably be the most important decision you will make to begin your new profession. As we have discussed in this article, there are many things that you will need to examine and compare among the training programs you are reviewing. It's a prerequisite that any plumber training program that you are considering includes a considerable amount of hands-on training. Classes should be small in size and every student should have their personal equipment to train with. Classroom education should offer a real-world perspective, and the curriculum should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Training programs vary in duration and the type of credential offered, so you will have to decide what length of program and certificate or degree will best fulfill your needs. Each program provides different possibilities for certification as well. Probably The ideal way to research your short list of schools is to visit each campus and speak with the faculty and students. Invest some time to attend a few classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the school you pick is the ideal one for you. With the right training, hard work and commitment, you can become a professional plumber in Huntsville AL.