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How to Choose the Best Plumbing Trade School near Mountain Brook Alabama

Mountain Brook Alabama plumbing contractor installing kitchen sink faucetThe initial step to learning to be a plumbing contractor or tradesman is enrolling in a plumbing trade school near Mountain Brook AL. But with so many technical schools to choose from, just how do you approach making certain that you enroll in the right one? Particularly because there are a number of variables to consider. For example, some students will start by looking for schools that are close to their home. After they have identified some that are within driving range, they will decide on the one with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are important, they are not the only things that need to be examined. Also critical are the reputations of the schools, their accreditation, along with their graduation and job placement rates. These and other qualifiers should help mold your ultimate judgment when picking a plumbing trade school. We will talk about that checklist in greater detail later in this post. But first, let's review a little bit about becoming a plumber and the instructional choices that are available.

What is a Plumber?

Mountain Brook Alabama plumber fixing 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 Mountain Brook AL plumber will typically advance through three phases during their professional career.

  • Apprentice. The majority of Mountain Brook 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 Mountain Brook 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 Mountain Brook 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 Vocational Schools

Mountain Brook Alabama plumbing contractor installing hot water heater

When you have decided to earn a certificate, diploma or degree, you can begin to narrow down your training options. Considering that there are numerous plumbing tech and trade schools in the Mountain Brook AL area, it's imperative to have a checklist of criteria that each program must satisfy. The first 2 that we talked about were location and the cost of tuition. And while both qualifiers may be crucial when making your selection, there are other factors that must be taken into account as well. Following is a checklist of those additional qualifiers that you will need to research before choosing a plumber trade school.

Is the Plumbing School Accredited?  Numerous plumbing vocational schools have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They can attain Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, for example electrical technology. Verify that the Mountain Brook AL school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping guarantee that you acquire a quality education, it can assist in securing financial aid or student loans, which are frequently unavailable for non-accredited schools. Also, some states require that the plumbing training program be accredited in order to be approved for certification or licensing.

Is the Plumbing School Licensed?  Along with accreditation, an additional way of determining if a trade school you’re considering is reputable is by checking that it’s properly licensed.  Licensing is typically 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 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 Mountain Brook 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 indicate that students were dissatisfied with the program and dropped out. It could also signify that the teachers were not competent to train the students. It's also imperative that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive list of alumni, which can produce 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 a good reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of contacts to assist grads acquire apprenticeships or jobs in the Mountain Brook AL area.

Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored?  Many plumber training programs are taught together 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 contractors or trade unions. Check if the schools you are considering have referring partnerships with local Mountain Brook AL plumbers or plumbing contractors. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by providing practical training, but it also supplies employment opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the local plumbing professional community.

Are there Modern Facilities?  Make certain that the school facilities and the tools that you will be instructed on are state-of-the-art and what you will be using on the job. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the master plumber you are working with regarding what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Mountain Brook AL plumbing company if they can give you some suggestions.

Where is the School Located?  Unless you are willing to move, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Mountain Brook AL home. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there may be increased tuition charges 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 a few of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and witness first hand the interaction between instructors and students. Speak with some of the students and get their feedback concerning class sizes and instruction. Last, talk to a few of the instructors and learn what their level of experience is in Mountain Brook AL and what certifications or degrees they hold.

Is the Class Schedule Convenient?  Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are assessing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you are only able to go to classes at night or on weekends near Mountain Brook AL, check that the schools you are considering provide those choices. If you can only attend part-time, make certain that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family emergencies.

Learn More About Mountain Brook Plumbing Training Schools

Choose the Right Mountain Brook Plumber Vocational School

Picking the right plumbing trade school will probably be the most important 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 examine and compare between the training programs you are considering. It's a prerequisite that any plumber training that you are examining includes a lot of hands-on instruction. Classes should be smaller in size and each student should have their own equipment to train with. Classroom instruction should provide a real-world frame of reference, and the curriculum should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Training programs differ in duration and the type of credential provided, so you will need to decide what length of program and degree or certificate will best fulfill your needs. Every program offers different possibilities for certification as well. Perhaps the best approach to research your short list of schools is to check out each campus and speak with the students and instructors. Take the time to sit in on a few classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the training program you decide on is the right one for you. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, you can become a professional plumber in Mountain Brook AL.