How to Pick the Best Plumbing Course near Mobile Alabama
The first step to becoming a plumbing tradesman or contractor is locating a plumbing trade school near Mobile AL. But with so many vocational schools to select from, just how do you go about making certain that you enroll in the best one? Particularly since there are a number of variables to evaluate. For example, many prospective students will begin by looking for schools that are nearby their home. When they have found some that are within commuting distance, they will choose the one with the most affordable tuition. Even though location and cost are of importance, they are not the only factors that should be evaluated. Also important are the reputations of the schools, their accreditation, along with their graduation and job placement rates. These and additional qualifiers should help mold your ultimate judgment when selecting a plumber training school. We will talk about that checklist in more detail later in this post. But to begin with, let's talk a little bit about becoming a plumber and the instructional options that are accessible.
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.
Plumber Degree and Certificate ProgramsThere 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.
Questions to Ask Plumber Vocational Schools
Now that you have made a decision to earn a certificate, diploma or degree, you can begin to focus your school options. Because there are numerous plumbing trade and vocational schools in the Mobile AL area, it's imperative to have a checklist of criteria that each program must satisfy. The initial two that we talked about were location and the cost of tuition. And although both qualifiers may be crucial when making your determination, there are other factors that need to be taken into account also. Below is a checklist of those added qualifications that you will need to analyze prior to selecting a plumber vocational school.
Is the Plumbing School Accredited? A large number of plumbing vocational programs have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They may receive Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, such as electrical technology. Make sure that the Mobile AL program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping guarantee that you acquire an excellent education, it may assist in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable for non-accredited schools. Also, some states require that the plumbing training course be accredited for it to qualify for certification or licensing.
Is the Plumbing School Licensed? In addition to accreditation, an additional way of determining if 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’re not sure, ask the school which state agency is responsible for 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 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 training programs you are considering what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage or portion of students who enroll in and complete the program. A lower completion rate could suggest that students were unhappy with the course and dropped out. It might also mean that the teachers were not competent to train the students. It's similarly essential that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader 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 can not only confirm that the school has a good reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of contacts to assist grads acquire apprenticeships or employment in the Mobile AL area.
Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored? Numerous plumber technical programs are taught together with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating trade and technical programs 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 Mobile AL plumbers or plumbing companies. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable 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 trained on are up-to-date and what you will be using on the job. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the master plumber you are working with regarding what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Mobile AL plumbing contracting company if they can give you some tips.
Where is the School Located? Unless you are willing to relocate, the school must be within driving distance of your Mobile AL home. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added moving costs there can 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 larger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a couple of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and experience the interaction between teachers and students. Speak to some of the students and get their comments relating to class sizes and instruction. Last, talk with some of the instructors 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? Make sure that the class schedules for the schools you are assessing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Mobile AL, confirm that the programs you are looking at offer those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Finally, check out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family issues.
Choose the Right Mobile Plumber Trade School
Picking the right plumbing trade school will undoubtedly be the most important decision you will make to start your new trade. As we have addressed in this article, there are many factors that you will need to examine and compare between the schools you are looking at. It's a necessity that any plumber training program that you are evaluating includes a considerable amount of hands-on training. Classes need to be small in size and every student should have their own equipment to train with. Classroom education should provide a real-world perspective, and the curriculum should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Courses differ in length and the type of credential provided, so you will have to decide what length of program and credential will best serve your needs. Each program provides different possibilities for certification also. Perhaps the best approach to research your final list of schools is to go to each campus and speak with the students and instructors. Take the time to sit in on a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the program you choose is the ideal one for you. With the proper training, effort and commitment, you can become a professional plumber in Mobile AL.