How to Select the Right Plumber Trade School near Montgomery Alabama
The first step to becoming a plumbing contractor or tradesman is finding a plumbing trade school near Montgomery AL. But with so many technical schools to pick from, just how do you go about making certain that you enroll in the ideal one? Especially because there are a number of variables to examine. For instance, some potential students will begin by searching for schools that are close to their residence. After they have found a few that are within commuting range, they will pick the one with the least expensive tuition. While cost and location are of importance, they are not the only factors that need to be examined. Also important are the reputations of the schools, their accreditation, as well as their graduation and job placement rates. These and additional qualifiers should help mold your ultimate judgment when picking a plumbing training school. We will address that checklist in more detail later in this article. But first, let's talk a little bit about becoming a plumber and the educational options that are accessible.
Becoming a Plumber
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.
Plumber Certificate and Degree ProgramsThere 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.
Topics to Ask Plumber Trade Schools
Now that you have decided to earn a certificate, diploma or degree, you can start to narrow down your training options. Since there are numerous plumbing tech and trade schools in the Montgomery AL region, it's imperative to have a checklist of qualifications that each school must meet. The initial 2 that we talked about were location and tuition expense. And even though both qualifiers may be critical when making your determination, there are additional factors that must be considered also. Following is a checklist of those additional qualifications that you will need to analyze before choosing a plumber technical school.
Is the Plumbing School Accredited? Numerous plumbing trade schools have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They may receive Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, for example electrical technology. Make sure that the Montgomery AL program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping ensure that you acquire a superior education, it may assist in securing financial aid or student loans, which are often unavailable for non-accredited schools. Also, many states require that the plumbing training course be accredited for it to qualify for certification or licensing.
Is the Plumbing School Licensed? Along with accreditation, another way of determining if a trade school you’re considering 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’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 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 finish the program. A low completion rate may suggest that students were dissatisfied with the program and dropped out. It may also indicate that the teachers were not qualified to instruct the students. It's also imperative that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive list of alumni, which may result in more contacts for the school to utilize 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 also that it has the network of contacts to help students secure apprenticeships or jobs in the Montgomery AL area.
Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored? Many plumber training programs are taught in conjunction with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating vocational and trade 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 relationships with local Montgomery AL plumbers or plumbing companies. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by providing practical training, but it also furnishes job opportunities and helps to form relationships in the local plumbing professional community.
Are there Modern Facilities? Make sure that the school facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are state-of-the-art and what you will be using on the job. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the master plumber you are working under regarding what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Montgomery 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 driving distance of your Montgomery AL home. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there may be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Are there Smaller Classes? It's desirable that you get as much individualized instruction as possible, which can be difficult in bigger 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 opinions concerning 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? Confirm that the class schedules for the schools you are evaluating are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Montgomery AL, verify that the schools you are considering offer those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, be sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Also, check out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Pick the Right Montgomery Plumbing Vocational School
Choosing the right plumbing training program will probably be the most critical decision you will make to launch your new profession. As we have discussed in this article, there are several things that you will need to evaluate and compare among the training programs you are considering. It's a must that any plumber tech school that you are considering includes a good deal of hands-on training. Classes should be smaller in size and each student should have their personal equipment to train with. Classroom education needs to provide a real-world perspective, and the training program should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Programs 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 satisfy your needs. Every program provides unique options for certification also. Perhaps the best means to research your final list of schools is to check out each campus and talk with the students and faculty. Take the time to monitor a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the program you select is the best one for you. With the right training, hard work and dedication, you can become a professional plumber in Montgomery AL.