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How to Find the Best Plumbing Course near Montgomery Alabama

Montgomery Alabama plumber installing kitchen sink faucetThe first step to learning to be a plumbing tradesman or contractor is enrolling in a plumbing trade school near Montgomery AL. But with numerous technical schools to pick from, just how do you approach making sure that you enroll in the ideal one? Especially since there are so many factors to examine. For example, many students will start by searching for schools that are nearby their home. Once they have found some that are within driving range, they will choose the one with the least expensive tuition. Although location and cost are significant, they are not the only qualifications that should be evaluated. Also critical are the accreditation and reputations of the schools, as well as their graduation and job placement rates. These and additional qualifiers should help mold your ultimate judgment when selecting a plumbing trade school. We will address that checklist in more detail later in this post. But first, let's review a little bit about becoming a plumber and the educational choices that are offered.

Becoming a Plumber

Montgomery Alabama plumber adjusting 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 Montgomery AL plumber will typically advance through three phases during their professional career.

  • Apprentice. The majority of Montgomery 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 Montgomery AL is to enroll in a plumbing technology program that will provide the comprehensive quality training needed to embark on this challenging career.

Plumbing Certificate and Degree Options

There are several educational options available near Montgomery 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.

What to Ask Plumber Tech Schools

Montgomery Alabama plumber repairing hot water heater

Now that 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 so many plumbing vocational and trade schools in the Montgomery AL region, it's imperative to have a checklist of criteria that each school must satisfy. The first two that we talked about were location and tuition expense. And even though both qualifiers may be critical when making your decision, there are additional variables that need to be considered as well. Following is a checklist of those added qualifiers that you will need to analyze before enrolling in a plumber vocational school.

Is the Plumbing School Accredited?  Numerous plumbing vocational schools have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They may earn Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, such as electrical technology. Make certain that the Montgomery AL school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping ensure that you receive a quality education, it can assist in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases not available for non-accredited programs. Furthermore, many states mandate 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, an additional way of determining if a vocational school you’re considering 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 don’t know, 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 Montgomery 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 schools you are reviewing what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and complete the program. A lower completion rate might indicate that students were disappointed with the course and quit. It might also indicate that the teachers were not qualified to instruct the students. It's similarly essential that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive directory of graduates, which can 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 industry, but additionally that it has the network of contacts to help students secure apprenticeships or employment in the Montgomery AL area.

Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored?  A large number of plumber training programs are taught along with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating trade and vocational schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of plumbing businesses or labor unions. Find out if the schools you are comparing have referring partnerships with local Montgomery AL plumbers or plumbing professionals. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by furnishing practical training, but it also provides job opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the regional plumbing professional community.

Are there Modern Facilities?  Make sure that the campus facilities and the equipment 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, talk to the master plumber you are working with concerning what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Montgomery AL plumbing company if they can give you some tips.

Where is the School Located?  Unless you are able to move, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Montgomery AL home. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there might be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.

Are there Smaller Classes?  It's desirable that you get as much personalized 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 experience the interaction between teachers and students. Speak to some of the students and get their feedback relating to class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak with a few of the instructors and find out what their level of experience is in Montgomery AL and what degrees or certifications they hold.

Is the Class Schedule Convenient?  Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are reviewing are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Montgomery AL, verify that the programs 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. Additionally, check out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family issues.

Find Out More About Montgomery Plumber Vocational Schools

Choose the Best Montgomery Plumbing Trade School

Picking the best plumber training program will probably be the most important decision you will make to launch your new career. As we have discussed in this article, there are a number of things that you will need to assess and compare between the schools you are reviewing. It's a prerequisite that any plumbing training that you are examining includes a considerable amount of hands-on instruction. Classes should be small in size and each student must have their own equipment to train with. Classroom education should offer a real-world perspective, and the training program should be current and in-line with industry standards. Programs differ in length and the kind of credential offered, so you will need to determine what length of program and degree or certificate will best fulfill your needs. Every training program provides different possibilities for certification also. Perhaps the best means 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 some classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the training program you select is the ideal one for you. With the proper training, effort and commitment, you can become a professional plumber in Montgomery AL.