How to Enroll in the Best Plumber Tech School near Northport Alabama
The first step to becoming a plumbing contractor or tradesman is enrolling in a plumbing trade school near Northport AL. But with so many vocational schools to choose from, just how do you tackle making sure that you enroll in the ideal one? Especially since there are so many variables to consider. For example, some students will start by searching for schools that are close to their residence. Once they have found several that are within driving range, they will pick the one with the most affordable tuition. While location and cost are significant, they are not the only things that must be evaluated. Also critical are the reputations of the schools, their accreditation, along with their graduation and job placement rates. These and other qualifiers should influence your final judgment when selecting a plumber training school. We will talk about that checklist in greater detail later in this post. But first, let's talk a little bit about becoming a plumber and the educational choices that are accessible.
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 Certificate and Degree 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.
Questions to Ask Plumbing Technical Schools
Once you have made a decision to earn a diploma, certificate or degree, you can start to focus your school options. Because there are so many plumbing vocational and trade schools in the Northport AL region, it's important to have a checklist of qualifications that each program must meet. The first two that we mentioned were location and the cost of tuition. And while both qualifiers may be crucial when making your selection, there are other variables that must be considered as well. Below is a checklist of those added qualifications that you will need to research prior to selecting a plumber technical school.
Is the Plumbing School Accredited? Many plumbing vocational programs have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They may attain Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, for example electrical technology. Verify that the Northport AL program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping make certain that you acquire a quality education, it may help in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently unavailable for non-accredited programs. Additionally, many states mandate that the plumbing training program be accredited in order to be approved for certification or licensing.
Is the Plumbing School Licensed? In addition to accreditation, another way of confirming that a trade 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’re not sure, 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 schools you are looking at what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage or portion of students who enroll in and finish the program. A lower completion rate may signify that students were unhappy with the course and quit. It could also signify that the teachers were not qualified 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 alumni, which may mean 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 an excellent reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of contacts to assist students obtain apprenticeships or jobs in the Northport AL area.
Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored? A large number of plumber technical programs are taught in conjunction with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating vocational and trade programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of plumbing businesses or trade unions. Find out if the schools you are comparing have referring partnerships with local Northport AL plumbers or plumbing companies. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by supplying hands-on training, but it also provides employment opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the regional plumbing professional community.
Are there Modern Facilities? Make certain that the school facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are state-of-the-art and what you will be working with in the field. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to 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 give you some tips.
Where is the School Located? Unless you are willing to relocate, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Northport AL residence. Take note that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there might be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Are there Smaller Classes? It's desirable that you receive as much individualized training as possible, which can be challenging in larger classes. Ask if you can sit in on some of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and experience the interaction between teachers and students. Speak with some of the students and get their comments relating to class sizes and instruction. Last, talk to 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? Verify that the class schedules for the programs 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, check that the programs you are looking at offer those options. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Finally, ask what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family emergencies.
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Pick the Best Northport Plumber Vocational School
Selecting the right plumbing trade school will probably be the most critical decision you will make to start your new trade. As we have discussed in this article, there are a number of things that you will need to examine and compare among the training programs you are looking at. It's a prerequisite that any plumber training program that you are reviewing includes a good deal of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be small in size and each student must have their personal equipment to train with. Classroom education needs to offer a real-world frame of reference, and the curriculum should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Courses vary in length and the type of credential offered, so you will have to decide what length of program and certificate or degree will best satisfy your needs. Every program offers unique options for certification also. Perhaps the best means to research your final list of schools is to check out each campus and talk with the students and instructors. Take the time to monitor some classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the program you decide on is the right one for you. With the proper training, hard work and dedication, you can become a professional plumber in Northport AL.