How to Find the Right Plumbing Trade School near Mobile Alabama
The first step to becoming a plumbing contractor or tradesman is finding a plumbing trade school near Mobile AL. But with so many technical schools to pick from, just how do you tackle making sure that you enroll in the best one? Especially since there are a number of variables to consider. For example, many prospective students will commence by searching for schools that are nearby their residence. When they have located some that are within commuting range, they will select the one with the cheapest tuition. While cost and location are of importance, they are not the only qualifications that need to be considered. Also important are the reputations of the schools, their accreditation, as well as their graduation and job placement rates. These and additional qualifiers should influence your final decision when choosing a plumber trade school. We will address 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 options 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 Mobile AL plumber will typically advance through three phases during their professional career.
- Apprentice. The majority of Mobile 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 Mobile 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 OptionsThere are several educational options available near Mobile 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 Vocational Schools
When you have decided to earn a diploma, certificate or degree, you can start to narrow down your training options. Because there are so many plumbing trade and vocational schools in the Mobile AL region, it's essential to have a checklist of qualifications that each program must meet. The initial 2 that we talked about were location and tuition expense. And while both qualifiers may be important when making your selection, there are other variables that must be considered as well. Below is a checklist of those additional qualifications that you will need to assess prior to choosing a plumber tech school.
Is the Plumbing School Accredited? Many plumbing trade schools have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They may acquire Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, for instance electrical technology. Verify that the Mobile 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 make certain that you receive a quality education, it can help in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are often unavailable for non-accredited schools. Additionally, a number of states mandate that the plumbing training course be accredited in order to qualify for certification or licensing.
Is the Plumbing School Licensed? In addition to accreditation, another way of determining if a vocational school you’re considering 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 Mobile 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 reviewing what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage or portion of students who enroll in and finish the program. A low completion rate might signify that students were disappointed with the course and dropped out. It could also mean that the instructors were not qualified to instruct the students. It's similarly essential that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive directory of alumni, which may mean more contacts for the school to utilize 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 industry, but additionally that it has the network of contacts to help students obtain apprenticeships or jobs in the Mobile AL area.
Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored? Numerous plumber trade programs are taught in conjunction with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating vocational and trade schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of plumbing businesses or trade unions. Find out if the schools you are considering have working relationships with local Mobile AL plumbers or plumbing specialists. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by providing practical training, but it also provides employment opportunities and helps to form relationships in the local plumbing professional community.
Are there Modern Facilities? Confirm that the campus facilities and the tools that you will be instructed 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 with regarding what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Mobile AL plumbing company if they can give you some suggestions.
Where is the School Located? Unless you are able to move, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Mobile AL residence. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there might be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Are there Smaller Classes? It's important that you receive as much personalized instruction as possible, which can be difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor some of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between instructors and students. Speak to some of the students and get their opinions regarding class sizes and instruction. Last, talk with a few of the teachers and find out what their level of experience is in Mobile 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 can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Mobile AL, confirm that the programs you are comparing offer those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, be sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Finally, find out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family responsibilities.
Enroll in the Best Mobile Plumber Training School
Choosing the best plumber training program will probably be the most important decision you will make to start your new career. As we have covered in this article, there are several factors that you will need to examine and compare between the training programs you are looking at. It's a must that any plumbing training that you are reviewing includes a good deal of hands-on training. Classes should be small in size and every student should have their personal equipment to train with. Classroom instruction needs to offer a real-world context, and the course of study should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Programs differ in duration and the type of credential offered, so you will have to determine what length of program and credential will best fulfill your needs. Every training program offers different options for certification as well. Probably the best approach to research your short list of schools is to go to each campus and talk with the students and faculty. Take the time to attend a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the program you select is the best one for you. With the proper training, effort and commitment, you can become a professional plumber in Mobile AL.