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How to Find the Right Plumbing Tech School near Montgomery Alabama

Montgomery Alabama plumber fixing sink faucetThe first step to becoming a plumbing contractor or tradesman is finding a plumbing trade school near Montgomery AL. But with so many vocational schools to choose from, just how do you approach making certain that you enroll in the ideal one? Especially since there are so many variables to consider. For instance, some prospective students will commence by looking for schools that are close to their home. After they have found a few that are within driving distance, they will pick the one with the lowest tuition. Even though cost and location are of importance, they are not the sole factors that need to be examined. Also critical are the reputations of the schools, their accreditation, in addition to their job placement and graduation rates. These and other qualifications should contribute toward your final judgment when selecting a plumber trade school. We will discuss that checklist in greater detail later in this article. But first, let's review a little bit about becoming a plumber and the training options that are accessible.

What is a Plumber?

Montgomery Alabama plumber repairing water 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 Degree and Certificate 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.

Questions to Ask Plumbing Tech Schools

Montgomery Alabama plumbing contractor installing hot water heater

Once you have made a decision to obtain a diploma, certificate or degree, you can begin to narrow down your training options. Because there are numerous plumbing tech and trade schools in the Montgomery AL area, it's imperative to have a checklist of qualifications that each program must satisfy. The initial two that we talked about were location and tuition expense. And while both qualifiers may be important when making your selection, there are additional variables that must be taken into account as well. Following is a checklist of those additional qualifications that you will need to assess before selecting a plumber vocational school.

Is the Plumbing School Accredited?  Many plumbing technical schools have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They can receive Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, for instance electrical technology. Make sure that the Montgomery AL school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping ensure that you acquire a superior education, it may help in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited schools. Additionally, many states require that the plumbing training program be accredited in order to qualify for certification or licensing.

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 making sure that it’s properly licensed.  Licensing is typically 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 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 training programs you are considering what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students who enroll in and finish the course. A lower completion rate could indicate that students were unhappy with the course and dropped out. It could also mean that the instructors were not qualified to train the students. It's also essential that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive list of alumni, 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 affirm that the school has a good reputation within the trade, but additionally that it has the network of contacts to help graduates secure apprenticeships or jobs in the Montgomery AL area.

Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored?  Numerous plumber technical programs are taught together with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating vocational and trade schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of plumbing businesses or labor unions. Check if the schools you are considering have working relationships with local Montgomery AL plumbers or plumbing specialists. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by providing hands-on 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 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. Otherwise, ask a local Montgomery AL plumbing contracting company if they can provide some tips.

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

Are there Smaller Classes?  It's desirable that you receive as much one-on-one instruction 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 large they are and experience the interaction between students and teachers. Speak with a few of the students and get their opinions regarding class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak to some of the teachers and learn what their level of experience is in Montgomery AL and what certifications or degrees they hold.

Is the Class Schedule Convenient?  Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are evaluating are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you are only able to attend classes at night or on weekends near Montgomery AL, check that the schools you are considering provide those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family issues.

Get More Info About Montgomery Plumber Tech Schools

Enroll in the Best Montgomery Plumber Vocational School

Selecting the right plumbing training program will undoubtedly be the most critical decision you will make to begin your new trade. As we have discussed in this article, there are several things that you will need to assess and compare between the schools you are looking at. It's a prerequisite that any plumbing tech school that you are reviewing includes a good deal of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be small in size and every student must have their personal equipment to train with. Classroom teaching needs to provide a real-world frame of reference, and the course of study should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Programs differ in duration and the kind of credential provided, so you will have to decide what length of program and credential will best satisfy your needs. Each training program provides different possibilities for certification also. Perhaps The ideal way to research your short list of schools is to visit each campus and talk with the students and faculty. Invest some time to monitor a few classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the training program you choose is the best one for you. With the right training, effort and dedication, you can become a professional plumber in Montgomery AL.