How to Enroll in the Best Plumbing Trade School near Northport Alabama
The first step to learning to be a plumbing tradesman or contractor is finding a plumbing trade school near Northport AL. But with numerous technical schools to select from, just how do you undertake making certain that you enroll in the right one? Particularly because there are a number of points to consider. For example, some students will start by looking for schools that are nearby their residence. Once they have identified several that are within driving range, they will select the one with the least expensive tuition. While cost and location are significant, they are not the sole things that should be examined. Also important are the reputations of the schools, their accreditation, as well as 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 more detail later in this post. But first, let's review a little bit about becoming a plumber and the training options that are accessible.
What is 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 Northport AL plumber will typically advance through three phases during their professional career.
- Apprentice. The majority of Northport 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 Northport 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 Northport 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 Plumbing Training Schools
Now that you have made a decision to obtain a certificate, diploma or degree, you can start to focus your training options. Because there are numerous plumbing vocational and trade schools in the Northport AL area, it's essential to have a checklist of criteria that each school must satisfy. The first 2 that we discussed were location and tuition expense. And although both qualifiers may be important when making your decision, there are other factors that need to be considered as well. Following is a checklist of those additional qualifications that you will need to assess prior to enrolling in a plumber trade school.
Is the Plumbing School Accredited? A large number of plumbing technical programs have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They may receive Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, such as electrical technology. Confirm that the Northport AL program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping ensure that you acquire a superior education, it may assist in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases not available for non-accredited schools. Furthermore, many states require that the plumbing training program be accredited for it to be approved for certification or licensing.
Is the Plumbing School Licensed? In addition to accreditation, another way of confirming that a vocational 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 don’t know, 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 Northport 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 looking at what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students who enroll in and finish the program. A low completion rate could signify that students were dissatisfied with the program and dropped out. It might also suggest that the teachers were not competent to train the students. It's also imperative that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader directory of graduates, which can result in more contacts for the school to utilize for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only affirm that the school has a good reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of contacts to assist graduates secure apprenticeships or jobs in the Northport AL area.
Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored? Most plumber training programs are taught in conjunction with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating technical and vocational schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of plumbing businesses or labor unions. Find out if the schools you are comparing have referring relationships with local Northport AL plumbers or plumbing companies. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by furnishing hands-on training, but it also provides employment opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the area 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 already in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the master plumber you are working with regarding what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Northport AL plumbing contracting company if they can provide some tips.
Where is the School Located? Unless you can relocate, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Northport AL home. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there may be increased tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Are there Smaller Classes? It's desirable that you get as much one-on-one instruction as possible, which can be challenging in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor some of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and instructors. Speak with several of the students and get their feedback regarding class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak with some of the instructors and find out what their level of experience is in Northport AL and what degrees or certifications they have earned.
Is the Class Schedule Convenient? Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you are only able to attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Northport AL, verify that the schools you are considering offer those options. If you can only attend part-time, make certain that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Finally, find out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Choose the Best Northport Plumbing Trade School
Selecting the best plumber training program will probably be the most important decision you will make to start your new trade. As we have addressed in this article, there are several things that you will need to evaluate and compare among the schools you are considering. It's a necessity that any plumbing training that you are evaluating includes a good deal of hands-on training. Classes should be small in size and every student must have their own equipment to train with. Classroom instruction needs to provide a real-world context, and the training program should be current and conform with industry standards. Training programs vary in length and the kind of credential offered, so you will need to determine what length of program and credential will best satisfy your needs. Every program offers unique options for certification as well. Probably The ideal way to research your short list of schools is to go to each campus and talk with the students and instructors. Invest some time to sit in on some classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the school you choose is the right one for you. With the right training, effort and dedication, you can become a professional plumber in Northport AL.