How to Select the Best Plumber Training School near Northport Alabama
The first step to learning to be a plumbing tradesman or contractor is enrolling in a plumbing trade school near Northport AL. But with so many vocational schools to pick from, just how do you go about making certain that you enroll in the best one? Particularly because there are a number of factors to consider. For example, many potential students will commence by searching for schools that are nearby their home. When they have found some that are within commuting range, they will decide on the one with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are significant, they are not the sole things that should be considered. Also critical are the accreditation and reputations of the schools, as well as their job placement and graduation rates. These and other qualifiers should contribute toward your ultimate judgment when choosing a plumber trade school. We will talk about that checklist in greater 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 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 Degree and Certificate 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.
What to Ask Plumbing Vocational Schools
Once you have decided to obtain a certificate, diploma or degree, you can start to narrow down your training options. Since there are numerous plumbing vocational and trade schools in the Northport AL area, it's imperative to have a checklist of qualifications that each school must meet. The first 2 that we mentioned were location and the cost of tuition. And although both qualifiers may be critical when making your determination, there are additional factors that must be considered also. Below is a checklist of those additional qualifiers that you will need to research prior to enrolling in a plumber tech school.
Is the Plumbing School Accredited? A large number of plumbing vocational schools have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They may receive Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, for example electrical technology. Confirm 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 ensure that you receive a quality education, it may help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable for non-accredited schools. Also, many states require that the plumbing training course be accredited in order to qualify for certification or licensing.
Is the Plumbing School Licensed? Along with accreditation, another way of determining if a trade school you’re considering 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 is responsible for 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 considering what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and complete the course. A low completion rate may suggest that students were disappointed with the course and dropped out. It might also mean that the teachers were not competent to train the students. It's similarly essential that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader directory of graduates, which can produce more contacts for the school to use for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only confirm that the school has a good reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of contacts to assist grads obtain apprenticeships or jobs in the Northport AL area.
Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored? Most plumber training programs are taught along with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating vocational and technical programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of plumbing contractors or labor unions. Find out if the schools you are comparing have referring relationships with local Northport AL plumbers or plumbing specialists. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by supplying hands-on training, but it also furnishes employment opportunities and helps to form relationships in the regional 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 currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the master plumber you are working with regarding what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Northport AL plumbing contracting company if they can give you some suggestions.
Where is the School Located? Unless you can move, the school must be within driving distance of your Northport AL residence. Take note that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there may be increased tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Are there Smaller Classes? It's desirable that you receive as much one-on-one 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 large they are and witness first hand the interaction between teachers 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? Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Northport AL, verify that the schools you are comparing provide those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family emergencies.
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Choose the Right Northport Plumbing Vocational School
Choosing the ideal plumber training program will undoubtedly be the most important decision you will make to start your new profession. As we have discussed in this article, there are several factors that you will need to assess and compare between the schools you are looking at. It's a prerequisite that any plumber tech school that you are assessing includes a considerable amount of hands-on training. Classes should be small in size and each student must have their own equipment to train with. Classroom teaching needs to offer a real-world perspective, and the training program should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Courses vary in duration and the type of credential provided, so you will need to determine what length of program and degree or certificate will best satisfy your needs. Every training program provides different possibilities for certification as well. Perhaps The ideal means to research your short list of schools is to visit each campus and talk with the faculty and students. Take the time to sit in on some classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the school you select is the right one for you. With the proper training, effort and commitment, you can become a professional plumber in Northport AL.