How to Enroll in the Right Plumbing Vocational School near Madison Alabama
The first step to becoming a plumbing contractor or tradesman is enrolling in a plumbing trade school near Madison AL. But with so many technical schools to select from, just how do you undertake making sure that you enroll in the right one? Particularly because there are a number of points to evaluate. For example, many students will begin by searching for schools that are close to their residence. Once they have identified several that are within commuting range, they will select the one with the lowest tuition. While cost and location are significant, they are not the sole things that should be considered. Also important are the accreditation and reputations of the schools, as well as their graduation and job placement rates. These and additional qualifications should influence your final judgment when choosing a plumbing training school. We will cover 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 offered.
What is 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 Degree and Certificate ProgramsThere 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.
Points to Ask Plumber Tech Schools
When you have made a decision to earn a certificate, diploma or degree, you can start to focus your training options. Since there are so many plumbing trade and vocational schools in the Madison AL area, it's imperative to have a checklist of qualifications that each program must satisfy. The initial 2 that we mentioned were location and the cost of tuition. And while both qualifiers may be critical when making your decision, there are other variables that must be taken into account also. Following is a checklist of those additional qualifiers that you will need to research prior to choosing a plumber vocational school.
Is the Plumbing School Accredited? Numerous plumbing vocational schools have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They can attain Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, such as electrical technology. Make certain that the Madison AL program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping make certain that you receive a superior education, it may assist in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. Furthermore, a number of states require that the plumbing training program be accredited for it to qualify for licensing or certification.
Is the Plumbing School Licensed? Along with accreditation, another way of confirming that a vocational school you’re considering is reputable is by making sure that it’s properly licensed. Licensing is typically 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 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 schools you are considering what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and complete the course. A lower completion rate could indicate that students were unhappy with the course and quit. It might also mean that the teachers were not qualified to train the students. It's similarly important that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader list of graduates, which can result in more contacts for the school to use for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only confirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of contacts to assist graduates obtain apprenticeships or employment in the Madison AL area.
Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored? Numerous plumber training programs are taught in conjunction with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating technical and vocational programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of plumbing businesses or trade unions. Ask if the schools you are comparing have working partnerships with local Madison AL plumbers or plumbing companies. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by furnishing hands-on training, but it also provides employment opportunities and helps to form relationships in the area plumbing professional community.
Are there Modern Facilities? Make certain that the school facilities and the tools that you will be trained on are state-of-the-art and what you will be using 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. Otherwise, ask a local Madison AL plumbing contracting company if they can provide some suggestions.
Where is the School Located? Unless you can move, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Madison AL home. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there can be higher 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 difficult in larger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a few of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and experience the interaction between teachers and students. Talk with a few of the students and get their opinions regarding class sizes and instruction. Last, speak to a few of the teachers and find out what their level of experience is in Madison AL and what degrees or certifications they hold.
Is the Class Schedule Convenient? Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are evaluating 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, verify that the schools you are looking at provide those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, be sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Finally, check out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Enroll in the Right Madison Plumber Training School
Selecting the ideal plumber training program will probably be the most critical decision you will make to launch your new trade. As we have covered in this article, there are several things that you will need to evaluate and compare among the schools you are reviewing. It's a prerequisite that any plumbing training that you are reviewing includes a good deal of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be smaller in size and every student should have their personal equipment to train with. Classroom instruction should provide a real-world context, and the curriculum 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 serve your needs. Every training program provides unique options for certification as well. Probably the best way to research your short list of schools is to check out each campus and talk with the students and faculty. Take the time to attend a few classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the school you decide on is the right one for you. With the proper training, effort and dedication, you can become a professional plumber in Madison AL.