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What to Ask Plumbing Tech Schools

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Now that you have made a decision to earn a certificate, diploma or degree, you can begin to refine your training options. Considering that there are numerous plumbing vocational and trade schools in the Northport AL region, it's important to have a checklist of qualifications that each program must satisfy. The initial two that we mentioned were location and the cost of tuition. And while both qualifiers may be important when making your selection, there are additional variables that need to be taken into account also. Following is a checklist of those additional qualifiers that you will need to research before choosing a plumber technical school.

Is the Plumbing School Accredited?  A large number of plumbing vocational programs have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They can acquire Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, such as electrical technology. Make certain 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. In addition to helping guarantee that you get an excellent education, it can help in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable for non-accredited programs. Furthermore, some states mandate that the plumbing training program be accredited in order to be approved for licensing or certification.

Is the Plumbing School Licensed?  Along with accreditation, an additional way of determining if a vocational school you’re reiewing 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 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 percentage or portion of students who enroll in and complete the course. A lower completion rate could suggest that students were dissatisfied with the program and dropped out. It could also indicate that the teachers were not competent to instruct the students. It's also important that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive list of alumni, which may mean more contacts for the school to employ for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only affirm that the school has a good reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of contacts to help students obtain apprenticeships or employment in the Northport AL area.

Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored?  Most plumber technical 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 inside their network of plumbing businesses or trade unions. Check if the schools you are considering have referring partnerships with local Northport AL plumbers or plumbing companies. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by furnishing hands-on training, but it also supplies employment opportunities and helps to build 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 up-to-date and what you will be using in the field. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the master plumber you are working under concerning what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Northport AL plumbing contracting 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 Northport AL home. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there may be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.

Are there Smaller Classes?  It's important that you get as much individualized training 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 experience the interaction between students and teachers. Speak to several of the students and get their feedback relating to class sizes and instruction. Last, speak with some of the teachers and find out what their level of experience is in Northport AL and what certifications or degrees they have earned.

Is the Class Schedule Convenient?  Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Northport AL, verify that the schools you are looking at provide those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Additionally, check out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family responsibilities.

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