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How to Select the Right Plumbing Trade School near Mobile Alabama

Mobile Alabama plumber fixing kitchen faucetThe initial step to learning to be a plumbing contractor or tradesman is locating a plumbing trade school near Mobile AL. But with numerous vocational schools to choose from, just how do you go about making certain that you enroll in the ideal one? Particularly because there are so many points to evaluate. For instance, many potential students will commence by looking for schools that are close to their home. When they have identified a few that are within driving range, they will choose the one with the least expensive tuition. While cost and location are of importance, they are not the sole qualifications that should be considered. Also important are the reputations of the schools, their accreditation, as well as their graduation and job placement rates. These and other qualifiers should influence your ultimate judgment when picking a plumber training school. We will cover that checklist in greater detail later in this article. But to begin with, let's talk a little bit about becoming a plumber and the training options that are offered.

Becoming 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.

Questions to Ask Plumbing Tech Schools

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Now that you have made a decision to earn a diploma, certificate or degree, you can begin to narrow down your school options. Because there are so many plumbing vocational and trade schools in the Mobile AL region, it's essential to have a checklist of criteria that each school must satisfy. The first 2 that we discussed were location and tuition expense. And even though both qualifiers may be crucial when making your selection, there are other variables that need to be taken into account also. Following is a checklist of those additional qualifiers that you will need to analyze before selecting a plumber technical school.

Is the Plumbing School Accredited?  A large number of plumbing trade schools have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They can acquire Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, for instance electrical technology. Verify that the Mobile AL program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting agency, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping ensure that you acquire a quality education, it may assist in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are often unavailable for non-accredited schools. Furthermore, some states require 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 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 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 may signify that students were unhappy with the program and dropped out. It could also signify that the instructors were not qualified to train the students. It's also important that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader list of alumni, which can mean more contacts for the school to employ for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only validate that the school has a good reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of contacts to assist graduates acquire apprenticeships or employment in the Mobile AL area.

Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored?  Many plumber vocational programs are taught together with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating trade and technical schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of plumbing companies or trade unions. Ask if the schools you are considering have referring relationships with local Mobile AL plumbers or plumbing contractors. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by providing hands-on training, but it also furnishes employment opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the area plumbing professional community.

Are there Modern Facilities?  Make certain that the school facilities and the equipment 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, check with the master plumber you are working under regarding what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Mobile AL plumbing company if they can provide some pointers.

Where is the School Located?  Unless you are able to move, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Mobile AL residence. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added moving costs there can be increased tuition charges compared to in-state residents.

Are there Smaller Classes?  It's important that you get as much personalized training as possible, which can be challenging in larger classes. Ask if you can sit in on some of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and instructors. Talk with a few of the students and get their feedback concerning class sizes and instruction. Last, talk to some of the instructors and learn what their level of experience is in Mobile AL and what degrees or certifications they hold.

Is the Class Schedule Convenient?  Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you are only able to go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Mobile AL, check that the schools you are looking at offer those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain 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, sickness or family responsibilities.

Find Out More About Mobile Plumber Vocational Schools

Enroll in the Best Mobile Plumber Trade School

Choosing the right 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 a number of factors that you will need to examine and compare between the schools you are reviewing. It's a must that any plumber tech school that you are examining includes a lot of hands-on instruction. Classes should be small in size and every student must have their own equipment to train with. Classroom teaching should offer a real-world perspective, and the training program should be current and in-line with industry standards. Programs vary in duration and the type of credential offered, so you will have to decide what length of program and credential will best serve your needs. Every training program offers unique options for certification as well. Probably The ideal approach to research your final list of schools is to go to each campus and speak with the students and instructors. Invest some time to sit in on a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the training program you decide on is the right one for you. With the proper training, effort and dedication, you can become a professional plumber in Mobile AL.