How to Find the Best Plumbing School near Montgomery Alabama
The first step to becoming a plumbing tradesman or contractor is finding a plumbing trade school near Montgomery AL. But with numerous technical schools to pick from, just how do you tackle making certain that you enroll in the best one? Especially since there are so many factors to consider. For instance, some prospective students will commence by looking for schools that are close to their residence. When they have identified some that are within driving range, they will pick the one with the most affordable tuition. While location and cost are important, they are not the only things that should be considered. Also critical are the reputations of the schools, their accreditation, in addition to their graduation and job placement rates. These and other qualifications should help mold your ultimate judgment when selecting a plumbing training school. We will discuss that checklist in greater detail later in this article. But to begin with, let's review a little bit about becoming a plumber and the training choices that are available.
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 Degree and Certificate OptionsThere 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.
Things to Ask Plumbing Trade Schools
Once you have made a decision to earn a certificate, diploma or degree, you can begin to focus your school options. Since there are numerous plumbing vocational and trade schools in the Montgomery AL area, it's important to have a checklist of criteria that each program must satisfy. The initial 2 that we mentioned were location and the cost of tuition. And even though both qualifiers may be crucial when making your selection, there are additional variables that must be considered also. Following is a checklist of those additional qualifiers that you will need to analyze prior to enrolling in a plumber technical school.
Is the Plumbing School Accredited? Many plumbing trade programs have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They can receive Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates 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, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping guarantee that you get a quality education, it can assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are often unavailable for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of states mandate that the plumbing training course be accredited in order to qualify for licensing or certification.
Is the Plumbing School Licensed? In addition to accreditation, an additional way of confirming that a trade school you’re reiewing is reputable is by making sure 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 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 looking at what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and finish the program. A lower completion rate could signify that students were dissatisfied with the program and quit. It may also signify that the instructors were not qualified to train the students. It's similarly important that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader directory of alumni, which can result in more contacts for the school to utilize for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only affirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of contacts to help grads secure apprenticeships or employment in the Montgomery AL area.
Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored? Many plumber vocational programs are taught together with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating technical and vocational programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of plumbing businesses or labor unions. Check if the schools you are reviewing have working relationships with local Montgomery AL plumbers or plumbing specialists. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by furnishing practical training, but it also supplies job opportunities and helps to build relationships in the regional plumbing professional community.
Are there Modern Facilities? Make certain that the campus facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are up-to-date and what you will be using on the job. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the master plumber you are working under concerning what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Montgomery AL plumbing contractor if they can provide some tips.
Where is the School Located? Unless you can move, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Montgomery AL residence. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added moving costs there can be higher tuition fees 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 bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor a couple of the classes so that you can see how big they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and teachers. Talk with a few of the students and get their opinions regarding class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk to some of the teachers and learn what their level of experience is in Montgomery AL and what certifications or degrees they have earned.
Is the Class Schedule Convenient? Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are assessing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you are only able to attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Montgomery AL, check that the programs you are looking at offer those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, be sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Finally, find out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family responsibilities.
Enroll in the Right Montgomery Plumbing Trade School
Choosing the best plumber training program will undoubtedly be the most critical decision you will make to begin your new career. As we have addressed in this article, there are many things that you will need to assess and compare between the schools you are reviewing. It's a must that any plumbing training that you are assessing includes a considerable amount of hands-on instruction. Classes should be small in size and every student should have their personal equipment to train with. Classroom instruction should offer a real-world context, and the training program should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Programs vary in duration and the kind of credential offered, so you will need to decide what length of program and certificate or degree will best satisfy your needs. Each program provides unique possibilities for certification as well. Perhaps The ideal means to research your final list of schools is to go to each campus and talk with the faculty and students. Invest some time to attend some classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the school you select is the ideal one for you. With the right training, hard work and commitment, you can become a professional plumber in Montgomery AL.