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How to Pick the Best Plumber Tech School near Mobile Alabama

Mobile Alabama plumber installing sink faucetThe initial step to becoming a plumbing tradesman or contractor is enrolling in a plumbing trade school near Mobile AL. But with so many technical schools to pick from, just how do you approach making sure that you enroll in the right one? Especially since there are a number of factors to evaluate. For instance, some students will start by looking for schools that are nearby their residence. When they have identified some that are within driving range, they will decide on the one with the most affordable tuition. While location and cost are significant, they are not the sole factors that need to be evaluated. Also important are the accreditation and reputations of the schools, in addition to their graduation and job placement rates. These and additional qualifiers should help mold your ultimate decision when selecting a plumbing training school. We will talk about that checklist in greater detail later in this post. But to begin with, let's review a little bit about becoming a plumber and the instructional options that are available.

Becoming a Plumber

Mobile Alabama plumber 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.

Topics to Ask Plumber Vocational Schools

Mobile Alabama plumber repairing hot water heater

Once you have decided to obtain a certificate, diploma or degree, you can begin to refine your training options. Considering that there are numerous plumbing tech and trade schools in the Mobile AL region, it's important to have a checklist of qualifications that each program must satisfy. The first 2 that we talked about were location and the cost of tuition. And although both qualifiers may be important when making your decision, there are additional factors that must be taken into account as well. Following is a checklist of those added qualifications that you will need to research before choosing a plumber vocational school.

Is the Plumbing School Accredited?  A large number of plumbing vocational programs have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They can acquire Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, for instance electrical technology. Make sure that the Mobile AL program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping make certain that you obtain a superior education, it may help in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable for non-accredited programs. Also, some states mandate that the plumbing training course be accredited in order 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 considering is reputable is by checking that it’s properly licensed.  Licensing is typically controlled and regulated 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 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 course. A low completion rate may indicate that students were unhappy with the program and dropped out. It may also signify 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 can produce 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 an excellent reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of contacts to help grads acquire apprenticeships or employment in the Mobile AL area.

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

Are there Modern Facilities?  Make certain that the campus facilities and the tools that you will be trained on are state-of-the-art and what you will be using in the field. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the master plumber you are working under concerning what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Mobile AL plumbing company if they can give you some tips.

Where is the School Located?  Unless you are willing to move, the school must be within driving distance of your Mobile AL home. Take note that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there can be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.

Are there Smaller Classes?  It's important that you receive as much one-on-one instruction as possible, which can be difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor a few of the classes so that you can see how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between instructors and students. Talk with several of the students and get their feedback 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 certifications or degrees they hold.

Is the Class Schedule Convenient?  Make sure that the class schedules for the schools you are reviewing are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you are only able to attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Mobile AL, verify that the schools you are looking at provide those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family emergencies.

Learn More About Mobile Plumbing Training Schools

Pick the Right Mobile Plumbing Vocational School

Selecting the ideal plumber training program will probably be the most important decision you will make to launch your new trade. As we have covered in this article, there are many things that you will need to evaluate and compare among the training programs you are considering. It's a must that any plumbing training program that you are examining includes a lot of hands-on training. Classes need to be smaller in size and every student must have their personal equipment to train with. Classroom education needs to offer a real-world perspective, and the curriculum should be current and conform with industry standards. Courses vary in length and the kind of credential offered, so you will need to determine what length of program and credential will best serve your needs. Each program provides different possibilities for certification also. Probably The ideal means to research your short list of schools is to visit each campus and talk with the faculty and students. Invest some time to attend a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the school you select is the best one for you. With the right training, effort and commitment, you can become a professional plumber in Mobile AL.