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How to Pick the Right Plumbing Course near Madison Alabama

Madison Alabama plumbing contractor replacing kitchen sink faucetThe first step to becoming a plumbing contractor or tradesman is finding a plumbing trade school near Madison AL. But with so many vocational schools to pick from, just how do you approach making certain that you enroll in the right one? Particularly since there are so many points to consider. For example, many potential students will begin by looking for schools that are close to their residence. When they have identified a few that are within commuting distance, they will decide on the one with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are important, they are not the sole things that must be evaluated. Also critical are the reputations of the schools, their accreditation, along with their job placement and graduation rates. These and additional qualifiers should contribute toward your ultimate decision when picking a plumbing training school. We will cover that checklist in more detail later in this article. But to begin with, let's review a little bit about becoming a plumber and the educational choices that are available.

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 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.

Plumber Degree and Certificate Options

There 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.

Questions to Ask Plumber Training Schools

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Once you have decided to obtain a certificate, diploma or degree, you can begin to refine your school options. Considering that there are numerous plumbing trade and vocational schools in the Madison AL region, it's essential to have a checklist of qualifications that each program must meet. The initial two that we discussed were location and the cost of tuition. And although both qualifiers may be crucial when making your selection, there are other variables that need to be considered also. 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 technical programs have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They may earn Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, for instance electrical technology. Verify that the Madison AL school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping ensure that you acquire an excellent education, it may assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are often unavailable 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?  In addition to accreditation, an additional way of confirming that 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’re not sure, ask the school which state agency is responsible for 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 considering what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and complete the program. A lower completion rate might suggest that students were disappointed with the program and quit. It could also indicate that the instructors were not qualified to instruct the students. It's also imperative that the schools have high 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 confirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of contacts to help graduates secure apprenticeships or jobs in the Madison AL area.

Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored?  Most plumber training programs are taught along with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating trade 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 reviewing have working relationships with local Madison AL plumbers or plumbing professionals. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by supplying hands-on training, but it also furnishes job opportunities and helps to establish 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 state-of-the-art and what you will be working with on the job. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the master plumber you are working under regarding what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Madison AL plumbing contractor if they can give you some suggestions.

Where is the School Located?  Unless you are able to move, the school must 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 relocation costs there might be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.

Are there Smaller Classes?  It's important that you get 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 big they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and instructors. Talk with some of the students and get their opinions regarding class sizes and instruction. Last, talk with some of the teachers and learn what their level of experience is in Madison AL and what certifications or degrees they hold.

Is the Class Schedule Convenient?  Make sure that the class schedules for the schools you are reviewing are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Madison AL, verify that the programs you are comparing offer those choices. If you can only attend part-time, make certain that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Additionally, ask what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family responsibilities.

Find Out More About Madison Plumbing Training Schools

Enroll in the Best Madison Plumbing Training School

Selecting the best plumber trade school will probably be the most critical decision you will make to start your new career. As we have addressed in this article, there are several factors that you will need to evaluate and compare between the training programs you are looking at. It's a necessity that any plumbing training that you are evaluating includes a considerable amount of hands-on training. Classes should be smaller in size and each student must have their own equipment to train with. Classroom instruction needs to provide a real-world frame of reference, and the training program should be current and in-line with industry standards. Courses vary in length and the type of credential offered, so you will have to determine what length of program and degree or certificate will best fulfill your needs. Each program offers different options for certification as well. Probably the best approach to research your final list of schools is to check out each campus and talk with the students and faculty. Take the time to sit in on a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the program you pick is the ideal one for you. With the proper training, hard work and dedication, you can become a professional plumber in Madison AL.