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How to Enroll in the Best Plumber Vocational School near Montgomery Alabama

Montgomery Alabama plumber fixing sink faucetThe first step to learning to be a plumbing contractor or tradesman is enrolling in a plumbing trade school near Montgomery AL. But with numerous vocational schools to pick from, just how do you go about making sure that you enroll in the ideal one? Especially since there are so many points to evaluate. For example, some students will start by searching for schools that are nearby their home. After they have located a few that are within driving range, they will pick the one with the cheapest tuition. While cost and location are significant, they are not the only things that need to be evaluated. Also important are the reputations of the schools, their accreditation, as well as their job placement and graduation rates. These and additional qualifiers should contribute toward your final decision when choosing a plumber trade school. We will discuss that checklist in greater detail later in this article. But first, let's talk a little bit about becoming a plumber and the training choices that are available.

Becoming a Plumber

Montgomery Alabama plumbing contractor adjusting 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.

Plumber 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.

Questions to Ask Plumbing Technical Schools

Montgomery Alabama plumber installing water heater

When you have made a decision to earn a diploma, certificate or degree, you can begin to focus your school options. Considering that there are so many plumbing trade and vocational schools in the Montgomery AL area, it's important to have a checklist of criteria that each school must meet. The first two that we talked about were location and the cost of tuition. And although both qualifiers may be crucial when making your selection, there are other variables that need to be considered also. Following is a checklist of those additional qualifiers that you will need to assess before enrolling in a plumber tech school.

Is the Plumbing School Accredited?  Many plumbing technical schools have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They may receive Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, such as electrical technology. Make sure that the Montgomery AL program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting agency, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping make certain that you obtain a quality education, it can help in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are often unavailable for non-accredited schools. Additionally, many states require that the plumbing training program be accredited for it to be approved for certification or licensing.

Is the Plumbing School Licensed?  Along with accreditation, another way of confirming that a vocational school you’re reiewing 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 regulates 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 reviewing what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage or portion of students who enroll in and finish the course. A lower completion rate could indicate that students were unhappy with the program and dropped out. It could also indicate that the instructors were not qualified to instruct the students. It's also important that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive directory of alumni, which may mean more contacts for the school to utilize for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only validate that the school has an excellent reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of contacts to assist graduates acquire apprenticeships or employment in the Montgomery AL area.

Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored?  A large number of plumber trade programs are taught in conjunction with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating vocational and technical programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of plumbing contractors or labor unions. Find out if the schools you are considering have referring relationships with local Montgomery AL plumbers or plumbing professionals. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by supplying 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 campus facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are up-to-date and what you will be working with on the job. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the master plumber you are working with concerning what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Montgomery AL plumbing company if they can give you some tips.

Where is the School Located?  Unless you can 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 moving costs there may be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.

Are there Smaller Classes?  It's important that you receive as much personalized training as possible, which can be difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a few of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and experience the interaction between teachers and students. Talk to a few of the students and get their opinions relating to class sizes and instruction. Last, speak to a few of the teachers and find out what their level of experience is in Montgomery AL and what degrees or certifications they have earned.

Is the Class Schedule Convenient?  Confirm that the class schedules for the schools you are reviewing are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Montgomery AL, check that the programs you are considering provide those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, be sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family emergencies.

Learn More About Montgomery Plumbing Vocational Schools

Enroll in the Right Montgomery Plumber Training School

Selecting the right plumber trade school will probably be the most important decision you will make to start your new trade. As we have discussed in this article, there are a number of factors that you will need to assess and compare between the training programs you are looking at. It's a prerequisite that any plumbing training that you are examining includes a good deal of hands-on training. Classes should be smaller in size and each student must have their personal equipment to train with. Classroom teaching should provide a real-world frame of reference, and the course of study should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Training programs vary in duration and the kind of credential offered, so you will need to ascertain what length of program and degree or certificate will best serve your needs. Each training program provides unique options for certification as well. Probably the best means to research your short list of schools is to visit each campus and talk with the students and faculty. Invest some time to sit in on a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the program you pick is the ideal one for you. With the right training, effort and dedication, you can become a professional plumber in Montgomery AL.