How to Choose the Right Plumbing Vocational School near Northport Alabama
The initial step to becoming a plumbing contractor or tradesman is finding a plumbing trade school near Northport AL. But with numerous vocational schools to select from, just how do you go about making certain that you enroll in the ideal one? Particularly because there are so many points to consider. For instance, some potential students will start by looking for schools that are nearby their home. When they have found a few that are within commuting distance, they will select the one with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are of importance, they are not the sole qualifications that must be considered. Also important are the reputations of the schools, their accreditation, as well as their graduation and job placement rates. These and additional qualifiers should help mold your ultimate judgment when selecting a plumber training 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 training options that are available.
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.
Things to Ask Plumber Vocational Schools
Now that you have decided to obtain a diploma, certificate or degree, you can start to focus your training options. Considering that there are numerous plumbing tech and trade schools in the Northport AL region, it's essential to have a checklist of qualifications that each school must satisfy. The initial two that we mentioned were location and the cost of tuition. And while both qualifiers may be critical when making your selection, there are additional factors that must be taken into account also. Following is a checklist of those added qualifications that you will need to research prior to enrolling in a plumber trade school.
Is the Plumbing School Accredited? Many plumbing vocational schools have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They may earn Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, such as electrical technology. Verify that the Northport AL program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping guarantee that you acquire a quality education, it can assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases not available for non-accredited programs. Furthermore, a number of states require that the plumbing training course be accredited for it to qualify for certification or licensing.
Is the Plumbing School Licensed? In addition to accreditation, an additional way of confirming that 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 don’t know, ask the school which state agency regulates its licensing and then verify 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 considering what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and finish the program. A low completion rate could indicate that students were dissatisfied with the course and quit. It could also mean that the teachers were not qualified to instruct the students. It's similarly important that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader list of graduates, which may mean more contacts for the school to employ for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only confirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of contacts to help grads obtain apprenticeships or jobs in the Northport AL area.
Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored? A large number of plumber technical programs are taught along with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating trade and vocational schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of plumbing contractors or trade unions. Ask if the schools you are considering have referring partnerships with local Northport AL plumbers or plumbing specialists. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by supplying practical training, but it also furnishes job opportunities and helps to build relationships in the regional plumbing professional community.
Are there Modern Facilities? Make sure that the campus facilities and the equipment 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, consult with the master plumber you are working under concerning what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Northport AL plumbing company if they can give you some tips.
Where is the School Located? Unless you are willing to relocate, the school must be within commuting distance of your Northport AL home. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there can be increased tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Are there Smaller Classes? It's desirable 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 see how big they are and witness first hand the interaction between instructors and students. Talk to a few of the students and get their opinions regarding class sizes and instruction. Last, talk to a few of the teachers and find out what their level of experience is in Northport AL and what certifications or degrees they hold.
Is the Class Schedule Convenient? Confirm that the class schedules for the schools you are evaluating are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you are only able to 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 part-time, make sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Also, check out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Pick the Right Northport Plumbing Training School
Selecting the best plumbing training program will undoubtedly be the most important decision you will make to start your new career. As we have covered in this article, there are many factors that you will need to assess and compare among the schools you are considering. It's a prerequisite that any plumbing tech school that you are assessing includes a good deal of hands-on instruction. Classes should be small in size and each student must have their personal equipment to train with. Classroom instruction needs to provide a real-world perspective, and the training program should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Training programs differ in length and the kind of credential offered, so you will have to ascertain what length of program and degree or certificate will best serve your needs. Each program provides different possibilities for certification as well. Probably The ideal way to research your short list of schools is to check out each campus and speak with the faculty and students. Take the time to sit in on some classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the training program you decide on is the right one for you. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, you can become a professional plumber in Northport AL.