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How to Enroll in the Best Plumbing Course near Mobile Alabama

Mobile Alabama plumber repairing kitchen faucetThe initial step to becoming a plumbing tradesman or contractor is finding a plumbing trade school near Mobile AL. But with numerous technical schools to select from, just how do you approach making certain that you enroll in the right one? Particularly because there are so many variables to evaluate. For example, many prospective students will begin by searching for schools that are close to their residence. When they have identified some that are within driving range, they will pick the one with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are significant, they are not the only qualifications that need to be evaluated. Also important are the reputations of the schools, their accreditation, as well as their job placement and graduation rates. These and additional qualifiers should influence your ultimate judgment when selecting a plumber training school. We will discuss that checklist in greater 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 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 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 Options

There 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 Plumber Technical Schools

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Now that you have decided to obtain a certificate, diploma or degree, you can begin to focus your training options. Considering that there are so many plumbing tech and trade schools in the Mobile AL area, it's essential to have a checklist of criteria that each school must satisfy. The first two that we discussed were location and the cost of tuition. And although both qualifiers may be crucial when making your determination, there are other factors that must be taken into account as well. Following is a checklist of those additional qualifications that you will need to analyze prior to enrolling in a plumber technical school.

Is the Plumbing School Accredited?  A large number of plumbing vocational schools have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They may earn Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, for example electrical technology. Confirm that the Mobile AL school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting agency, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping make certain that you acquire a superior education, it may help in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited schools. Additionally, some states mandate 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 confirming that a vocational school you’re reiewing is reputable is by checking that it’s properly licensed.  Licensing is usually regulated and controlled by state agencies, such as the Alabama Department of Education.  If you’re not sure, ask the school which state agency regulates 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 reviewing what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and finish the course. A low completion rate might suggest that students were unhappy with the course and dropped out. It may also mean that the teachers were not qualified to train the students. It's also imperative that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader directory of alumni, which may mean 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 help students secure apprenticeships or jobs in the Mobile AL area.

Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored?  A large number of plumber technical programs are taught together with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating trade and vocational programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of plumbing businesses or labor unions. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have referring relationships with local Mobile AL plumbers or plumbing contractors. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by providing practical training, but it also provides employment opportunities and helps to form relationships in the area plumbing professional community.

Are there Modern Facilities?  Make sure that the school facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are state-of-the-art and what you will be using on the job. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the master plumber you are working under regarding what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Mobile AL plumbing company if they can provide some tips.

Where is the School Located?  Unless you are able to relocate, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Mobile AL residence. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation 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 instruction as possible, which can be challenging in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor a couple of the classes so that you can see how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and teachers. Talk with several of the students and get their opinions relating to class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk to some of the teachers and find out what their level of experience is in Mobile AL and what degrees or certifications they hold.

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 can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Mobile AL, verify that the schools you are looking at provide those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, be sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Finally, find out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family emergencies.

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Choose the Right Mobile Plumbing Training School

Choosing the ideal plumbing trade school will probably be the most critical decision you will make to start your new trade. As we have covered in this article, there are several factors that you will need to evaluate and compare between the training programs you are considering. It's a prerequisite that any plumbing tech school that you are reviewing includes a considerable amount of hands-on instruction. Classes should be smaller in size and every student should have their own equipment to train with. Classroom education should provide a real-world perspective, and the course of study should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Courses differ in length and the kind of credential offered, so you will have to decide what length of program and certificate or degree will best fulfill your needs. Each training program offers different options for certification as well. Probably The ideal approach to research your final list of schools is to go to each campus and talk with the teachers and students. Invest some time to monitor a few classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the school you choose is the right one for you. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, you can become a professional plumber in Mobile AL.