How to Find the Right Plumber Training School near Northport Alabama
The first step to becoming a plumbing tradesman or contractor is locating a plumbing trade school near Northport AL. But with numerous vocational schools to pick from, just how do you go about making sure that you enroll in the right one? Particularly since there are so many factors to examine. For example, many potential students will start by looking for schools that are nearby their home. When they have found some that are within commuting distance, they will decide on the one with the least expensive tuition. Even though cost and location are important, they are not the sole factors that should be evaluated. Also critical are the accreditation and reputations of the schools, as well as their graduation and job placement rates. These and other qualifications should contribute toward your final judgment when choosing a plumbing training school. We will talk about that checklist in more detail later in this article. But to begin with, let's review a little bit about becoming a plumber and the instructional choices that are offered.
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.
Plumbing Degree and Certificate OptionsThere 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 Plumber Vocational Schools
When you have made a decision to obtain a certificate, diploma or degree, you can begin to refine your school options. Considering that there are so many plumbing vocational and trade schools in the Northport AL region, it's essential to have a checklist of criteria that each program must meet. The first two that we talked about were location and tuition expense. And while both qualifiers may be critical when making your decision, there are other variables that need to be considered as well. Following is a checklist of those added qualifications that you will need to research before enrolling in a plumber tech school.
Is the Plumbing School Accredited? Many plumbing trade programs have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They can earn Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, for example electrical technology. Make sure that the Northport AL program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting organization, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping make certain that you receive an excellent education, it may help in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited schools. Furthermore, a number of states require that the plumbing training course 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 vocational school you’re considering is reputable is by checking that it’s properly licensed. Licensing is usually 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 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 reviewing what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and finish the program. A lower completion rate might suggest that students were dissatisfied with the course and dropped out. It might also indicate that the instructors were not competent to instruct the students. It's also imperative that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive directory of graduates, which may produce more contacts for the school to employ 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 also that it has the network of contacts to assist students secure apprenticeships or jobs in the Northport AL area.
Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored? Many plumber trade programs are taught in conjunction with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating vocational and technical schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of plumbing businesses or labor unions. Check if the schools you are reviewing have working relationships with local Northport AL plumbers or plumbing professionals. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by providing practical training, but it also supplies 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 tools that you will be instructed on are state-of-the-art and what you will be working with in the field. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the master plumber you are working with concerning what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Northport AL plumbing contracting company if they can provide some pointers.
Where is the School Located? Unless you are able to move, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Northport AL residence. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added moving costs there might be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Are there Smaller Classes? It's desirable that you get as much personalized training as possible, which can be challenging in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor a few of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and instructors. Talk with some of the students and get their comments regarding class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak with some of the teachers and learn what their level of experience is in Northport AL and what degrees or certifications they hold.
Is the Class Schedule Convenient? Confirm that the class schedules for the schools you are assessing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Northport AL, verify that the programs you are comparing offer those choices. If you can only attend part-time, be sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Additionally, check out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family issues.
Enroll in the Best Northport Plumbing Vocational School
Picking the right plumber trade school will probably be the most important decision you will make to launch your new career. As we have addressed in this article, there are a number of things that you will need to evaluate and compare between the schools you are considering. It's a must that any plumbing training program that you are examining includes a considerable amount of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be small in size and every student should have their personal equipment to train with. Classroom education should offer a real-world frame of reference, and the training program should be current and in-line with industry standards. Training programs differ in length and the type of credential provided, so you will have to ascertain what length of program and certificate or degree will best serve your needs. Every program provides different options for certification also. Probably the best means to research your final list of schools is to visit each campus and talk with the students and instructors. Take the time to sit in on some classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the program you decide on is the best one for you. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, you can become a professional plumber in Northport AL.