How to Select the Best Plumber Training School near Madison Alabama
The first step to becoming a plumbing tradesman or contractor is enrolling in a plumbing trade school near Madison AL. But with so many vocational schools to select from, just how do you approach making sure that you enroll in the best one? Particularly because there are a number of points to evaluate. For example, some prospective students will commence by looking for schools that are close to their residence. Once they have found some that are within commuting range, they will select the one with the cheapest tuition. Even though cost and location are important, they are not the only qualifications that need to be examined. Also critical are the reputations of the schools, their accreditation, along with their job placement and graduation rates. These and other qualifiers should help mold your final judgment when choosing a plumbing training school. We will discuss that checklist in more detail later in this post. But first, let's review a little bit about becoming a plumber and the training choices that are available.
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 Madison AL plumber will typically advance through three phases during their professional career.
- Apprentice. The majority of Madison 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 Madison 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 OptionsThere are several educational options available near Madison 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 Tech Schools
Now that you have decided to earn a diploma, certificate or degree, you can begin to narrow down your school options. Since there are so many plumbing tech and trade schools in the Madison AL region, it's imperative to have a checklist of qualifications that each program must meet. The initial two that we talked about were location and tuition expense. And although both qualifiers may be crucial when making your selection, there are other factors that must be considered as well. Following is a checklist of those added qualifiers that you will need to analyze prior to selecting a plumber vocational school.
Is the Plumbing School Accredited? Many plumbing trade schools have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They may attain Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, for instance electrical technology. Confirm that the Madison AL school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting organization, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping ensure that you receive an excellent education, it may help in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are often unavailable for non-accredited programs. Furthermore, a number of states mandate that the plumbing training program be accredited in order to qualify for licensing or certification.
Is the Plumbing School Licensed? Along with accreditation, an additional way of confirming that a trade school you’re reiewing is reputable is by checking that it’s properly licensed. Licensing is typically regulated and controlled 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 Madison 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 or portion of students who enroll in and complete the course. A lower completion rate might signify that students were unhappy with the program and quit. It may also signify that the instructors were not competent 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 more extensive list of graduates, which may result in more contacts for the school to use for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only validate that the school has an excellent reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of contacts to assist grads secure apprenticeships or employment in the Madison AL area.
Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored? Most plumber trade programs are taught along with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating technical and vocational schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of plumbing companies or trade unions. Check if the schools you are comparing have referring relationships with local Madison AL plumbers or plumbing contractors. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by supplying practical training, but it also supplies job opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the area plumbing professional community.
Are there Modern Facilities? Make sure that the school facilities and the tools that you will be trained on are state-of-the-art and what you will be using on the job. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the master plumber you are working with regarding what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Madison AL plumbing company if they can give you some suggestions.
Where is the School Located? Unless you can relocate, the school must be within driving distance of your Madison AL residence. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there might be increased tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Are there Smaller Classes? It's important that you get as much personalized training as possible, which can be difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on some of the classes so that you can see how big they are and experience the interaction between students and instructors. Talk to some of the students and get their feedback relating to class sizes and instruction. Last, speak to some of the teachers and find out what their level of experience is in Madison AL and what certifications or degrees they have earned.
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 go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Madison AL, check that the programs you are looking at offer those choices. If you can only attend part-time, make certain that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, check out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family responsibilities.
Pick the Right Madison Plumber Vocational School
Picking the best plumber training program will probably be the most critical decision you will make to launch your new trade. As we have addressed in this article, there are a number of things that you will need to examine and compare between the training programs you are looking at. It's a necessity that any plumber tech school that you are evaluating includes a good deal of hands-on training. Classes should be small in size and every student must have their own equipment to train with. Classroom teaching should offer a real-world perspective, and the training program should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Training programs vary in length and the kind of credential provided, so you will need to ascertain what length of program and credential will best fulfill your needs. Every program provides different possibilities for certification also. Probably the best way to research your short list of schools is to check out each campus and talk with the students and instructors. Take the time to sit in on a few classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the school you select is the best one for you. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, you can become a professional plumber in Madison AL.