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How to Pick the Best Plumbing Training near Northport Alabama

Northport Alabama plumber installing kitchen faucetThe first step to learning to be a plumbing contractor or tradesman is enrolling in a plumbing trade school near Northport AL. But with so many technical schools to pick from, just how do you go about making sure that you enroll in the ideal one? Particularly since there are a number of variables to evaluate. For instance, some prospective students will commence by searching for schools that are nearby their home. When they have located several that are within commuting distance, they will decide on the one with the cheapest tuition. While cost and location are of importance, they are not the only things that should be examined. Also important are the accreditation and reputations of the schools, along with their job placement and graduation rates. These and other qualifiers should contribute toward your ultimate decision when picking a plumbing trade school. We will address that checklist in greater detail later in this post. But to begin with, let's review a little bit about becoming a plumber and the instructional options that are available.

What is a Plumber?

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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.

Plumbing Degree and Certificate Options

There 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 Vocational Schools

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Now that you have made a decision to obtain a certificate, diploma or degree, you can start to narrow down your training options. Since there are so many plumbing trade and vocational schools in the Northport AL region, it's essential to have a checklist of qualifications that each program must satisfy. The initial two that we discussed were location and tuition expense. And although both qualifiers may be important when making your decision, there are additional variables that need to be taken into account also. Below is a checklist of those added qualifications that you will need to analyze before enrolling in a plumber vocational school.

Is the Plumbing School Accredited?  Many plumbing technical schools have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They can attain Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, such as electrical technology. Verify that the Northport AL program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping guarantee that you acquire an excellent education, it can help in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited schools. Also, many states mandate that the plumbing training course be accredited for it to qualify for licensing or certification.

Is the Plumbing School Licensed?  Along with accreditation, an additional way of determining if a trade school you’re considering 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 is responsible for 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 schools you are looking at what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students who enroll in and complete the course. A low completion rate might indicate that students were unhappy with the course and dropped out. It could also indicate that the teachers 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 broader list 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 confirm that the school has a good reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of contacts to help students acquire apprenticeships or employment in the Northport AL area.

Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored?  Numerous plumber training programs are taught along with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating technical and vocational programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of plumbing contractors or labor unions. Check if the schools you are comparing have referring relationships with local Northport AL plumbers or plumbing professionals. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by furnishing practical training, but it also provides job opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the regional plumbing professional community.

Are there Modern Facilities?  Confirm that the campus facilities and the tools that you will be trained on are up-to-date and what you will be working with on the job. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the master plumber you are working with regarding what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Northport AL plumbing contractor if they can provide some suggestions.

Where is the School Located?  Unless you are able to relocate, the school must be within commuting distance of your Northport AL home. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there may be increased tuition charges compared to in-state residents.

Are there Smaller Classes?  It's important that you receive as much individualized instruction as possible, which can be difficult in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor a few of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and instructors. Speak to a few of the students and get their feedback concerning 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 hold.

Is the Class Schedule Convenient?  Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are evaluating are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Northport AL, verify that the schools you are comparing provide those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Additionally, find out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family emergencies.

Find Out More About Northport Plumbing Vocational Schools

Enroll in the Right Northport Plumbing Trade School

Picking the right plumbing training program will undoubtedly be the most critical decision you will make to start your new trade. As we have covered in this article, there are many factors that you will need to evaluate and compare between the training programs you are looking at. It's a must that any plumbing tech school that you are examining includes a considerable amount of hands-on instruction. Classes should be small in size and each student should have their personal equipment to train with. Classroom education should offer a real-world perspective, and the course of study should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Training programs differ in length and the kind of credential provided, so you will need to decide what length of program and certificate or degree will best serve your needs. Every program offers different options for certification also. Probably The ideal approach to research your final list of schools is to check out each campus and talk with the faculty and students. Take the time to monitor some classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make sure 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 Northport AL.