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How to Choose the Best Plumber Course near Northport Alabama

Northport Alabama plumbing contractor fixing kitchen faucetThe first step to learning to be a plumbing contractor or tradesman is locating a plumbing trade school near Northport AL. But with so many technical schools to select from, just how do you tackle making certain that you enroll in the right one? Especially because there are so many factors to examine. For example, some potential students will begin by looking for schools that are nearby their home. Once they have identified some that are within commuting distance, they will choose the one with the most affordable tuition. While location and cost are significant, they are not the sole factors that need to be considered. Also critical are the reputations of the schools, their accreditation, along with their job placement and graduation rates. These and other qualifiers should contribute toward your final decision when picking a plumber trade school. We will discuss that checklist in more detail later in this post. But first, let's talk a little bit about becoming a plumber and the educational choices that are offered.

Becoming 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.

Plumber Degree and Certificate Programs

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 Tech Schools

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Now that you have made a decision to obtain a certificate, diploma or degree, you can start to refine your school options. Considering that there are so many plumbing vocational and trade schools in the Northport AL area, it's essential to have a checklist of criteria that each program must meet. The first two that we discussed were location and tuition expense. And while both qualifiers may be crucial when making your decision, there are other variables that must be taken into account also. Below is a checklist of those added qualifications that you will need to assess prior to selecting a plumber tech school.

Is the Plumbing School Accredited?  Many plumbing vocational schools have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They can earn Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, such as electrical technology. Make certain that the Northport AL school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping make certain that you acquire a superior education, it may assist in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently unavailable for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of states mandate that the plumbing training course be accredited in order to qualify for certification or licensing.

Is the Plumbing School Licensed?  Along with accreditation, an additional way of determining if a vocational school you’re reiewing is reputable is by making sure that it’s properly licensed.  Licensing is typically controlled and regulated by state agencies, such as the Alabama Department of Education.  If you don’t know, 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 considering what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage or portion of students who enroll in and finish the program. A low completion rate could signify that students were disappointed with the program and quit. It could also indicate that the instructors were not competent 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 more extensive directory of alumni, which can produce more contacts for the school to use 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 additionally that it has the network of contacts to help students secure apprenticeships or jobs in the Northport AL area.

Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored?  Many plumber vocational programs are taught together with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating vocational and trade schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of plumbing contractors or trade unions. Find out if the schools you are comparing have working partnerships with local Northport AL plumbers or plumbing companies. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by supplying practical training, but it also supplies job opportunities and helps to form relationships in the regional plumbing professional community.

Are there Modern Facilities?  Make certain that the school facilities and the tools that you will be trained on are state-of-the-art and what you will be working with on the job. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the master plumber you are working under 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 driving distance of your Northport AL home. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there might be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.

Are there Smaller Classes?  It's important that you get as much one-on-one instruction as possible, which can be challenging in bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a few of the classes so that you can see how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and teachers. Talk to several of the students and get their opinions relating to class sizes and instruction. Last, talk to 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?  Make sure that the class schedules for the schools you are assessing are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Northport AL, confirm that the schools you are looking at offer those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, be sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Finally, ask what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family emergencies.

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Enroll in the Right Northport Plumber Training School

Selecting the right plumbing training program will probably be the most critical decision you will make to launch your new trade. As we have addressed in this article, there are many factors that you will need to examine and compare among the training programs you are reviewing. It's a prerequisite that any plumbing training program that you are reviewing includes a good deal of hands-on training. Classes need to be smaller in size and each student must have their own equipment to train with. Classroom teaching needs to provide a real-world frame of reference, and the curriculum should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Training programs vary in length and the kind of credential offered, so you will have to ascertain what length of program and certificate or degree will best satisfy your needs. Each training program offers different possibilities for certification as well. Probably the best approach to research your final list of schools is to visit each campus and speak with the faculty and students. Invest some time to attend a few classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the school you pick is the right one for you. With the right training, hard work and commitment, you can become a professional plumber in Northport AL.