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How to Pick the Right Plumber Technical School near Mobile Alabama

Mobile Alabama plumbing contractor installing sink faucetThe initial step to becoming a plumbing contractor or tradesman is finding a plumbing trade school near Mobile AL. But with numerous vocational schools to choose from, just how do you go about making sure that you enroll in the ideal one? Especially because there are so many points to evaluate. For instance, many potential students will begin by looking for schools that are nearby their home. Once they have identified several that are within commuting distance, they will select the one with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are significant, they are not the only factors that need to be considered. Also critical are the accreditation and reputations of the schools, along with their graduation and job placement rates. These and additional qualifications should influence your ultimate decision when picking a plumbing trade school. We will address that checklist in more detail later in this post. But first, let's talk a little bit about becoming a plumber and the instructional options that are accessible.

Becoming a Plumber

Mobile Alabama plumbing contractor fixing sink pipe

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 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.

Points to Ask Plumber Tech Schools

Mobile Alabama plumbing contractor repairing water heater

When you have made a decision to earn a diploma, certificate or degree, you can start to narrow down your school options. Considering that 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 2 that we talked about were location and tuition expense. And even though both qualifiers may be crucial when making your selection, there are other variables that must be taken into account as well. Below is a checklist of those added qualifiers that you will need to assess prior to enrolling in a plumber tech school.

Is the Plumbing School Accredited?  A large number of plumbing trade programs have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They may acquire Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, for instance electrical technology. Make certain that the Mobile 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 guarantee that you get a quality education, it can help in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable for non-accredited schools. Also, some states require that the plumbing training program be accredited for it to be approved for licensing or certification.

Is the Plumbing School Licensed?  In addition to accreditation, another way of determining if a vocational school you’re reiewing is reputable is by making sure that it’s properly licensed.  Licensing is usually controlled and regulated by state agencies, such as the Alabama Department of Education.  If you don’t know, 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 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 looking at what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students who enroll in and finish the program. A lower completion rate may signify that students were disappointed with the course and quit. It may also indicate that the instructors were not competent to instruct the students. It's similarly imperative that the schools have high 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 employ 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 industry, but also that it has the network of contacts to help grads obtain apprenticeships or jobs in the Mobile AL area.

Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored?  Many plumber vocational programs are taught along with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating trade and technical schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of plumbing contractors or trade unions. Check if the schools you are considering have working partnerships with local Mobile AL plumbers or plumbing contractors. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by supplying practical training, but it also supplies job opportunities and helps to build relationships in the local plumbing professional community.

Are there Modern Facilities?  Make sure that the campus facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are up-to-date and what you will be using in the field. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the master plumber you are working under concerning what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Mobile AL plumbing contracting company if they can provide some tips.

Where is the School Located?  Unless you can move, 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, in addition to relocation costs there might be increased tuition charges compared to in-state residents.

Are there Smaller Classes?  It's important that you get 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 experience the interaction between instructors and students. Speak with several of the students and get their comments regarding class sizes and instruction. Last, speak with some of the instructors and learn what their level of experience is in Mobile AL and what certifications or degrees they hold.

Is the Class Schedule Convenient?  Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are assessing are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Mobile AL, check that the programs you are comparing provide those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family issues.

Learn More About Mobile Plumbing Trade Schools

Enroll in the Best Mobile Plumber Training School

Selecting the ideal plumbing trade school will undoubtedly be the most important decision you will make to begin your new profession. As we have discussed in this article, there are many factors that you will need to evaluate and compare among the schools you are reviewing. It's a necessity that any plumbing tech school that you are assessing includes a good deal of hands-on training. Classes need to be smaller in size and every student must have their personal equipment to train with. Classroom instruction needs to provide a real-world frame of reference, and the curriculum should be current and conform with industry standards. Training programs vary in duration and the kind of credential offered, so you will have to decide what length of program and certificate or degree will best serve your needs. Every program offers different options for certification as well. Probably the best way to research your final list of schools is to check out each campus and speak with the teachers and students. Invest some time to monitor a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the program you decide on is the ideal one for you. With the right training, effort and commitment, you can become a professional plumber in Mobile AL.