How to Find the Right Plumber Vocational School near Northport Alabama
The initial step to becoming a plumbing tradesman or contractor is finding a plumbing trade school near Northport AL. But with numerous technical schools to select from, just how do you go about making certain that you enroll in the right one? Especially because there are a number of factors to examine. For instance, some prospective students will start by searching for schools that are close to their home. When they have located several that are within driving range, they will select the one with the least expensive tuition. Even though cost and location are of importance, they are not the only things that should be examined. Also critical are the reputations of the schools, their accreditation, along with their graduation and job placement rates. These and other qualifications should help mold your final decision when selecting a plumber training school. We will talk about that checklist in greater detail later in this article. But to begin with, let's talk a little bit about becoming a plumber and the instructional options that are offered.
Becoming 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 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.
Points to Ask Plumbing Technical Schools
Once you have decided to obtain a diploma, certificate or degree, you can start to narrow down your training options. Considering that there are numerous plumbing trade and vocational schools in the Northport AL area, it's imperative to have a checklist of qualifications that each program must satisfy. The first 2 that we discussed were location and the cost of tuition. And while both qualifiers may be important when making your determination, there are additional factors that need to be considered as well. Following is a checklist of those added qualifiers that you will need to analyze before selecting a plumber tech school.
Is the Plumbing School Accredited? Numerous plumbing technical programs have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They can receive Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, for instance electrical technology. Verify that the Northport AL school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping make certain that you obtain a superior education, it may assist in securing financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. Also, some states mandate that the plumbing training program be accredited for it to qualify for certification or licensing.
Is the Plumbing School Licensed? In addition to 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 don’t know, 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 training programs you are reviewing what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students who enroll in and finish the course. A low completion rate might suggest that students were unhappy with the program and quit. 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 more extensive list of graduates, which may result in more contacts for the school to utilize 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 field, but also that it has the network of contacts to help grads obtain apprenticeships or employment in the Northport AL area.
Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored? Numerous plumber technical programs are taught together with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating trade and vocational schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of plumbing companies or trade unions. Find out if the schools you are considering have referring relationships with local Northport AL plumbers or plumbing specialists. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by supplying hands-on training, but it also provides job opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the area plumbing professional community.
Are there Modern Facilities? Make certain that the campus facilities and the tools that you will be trained on are state-of-the-art and what you will be working with in the field. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the master plumber you are working with concerning what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Northport AL plumbing contracting company if they can give you some pointers.
Where is the School Located? Unless you are willing to relocate, the school must be within commuting distance of your Northport AL residence. Take note that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there may be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Are there Smaller Classes? It's important that you get as much personalized instruction as possible, which can be challenging in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor some of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and experience the interaction between students and instructors. Talk to a few of the students and get their comments relating to 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 degrees or certifications they have earned.
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 are only able to attend 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 on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Finally, ask what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family issues.
Enroll in the Best Northport Plumbing Vocational School
Choosing the right plumbing training program will undoubtedly be the most important decision you will make to start your new trade. As we have addressed in this article, there are a number of things that you will need to evaluate and compare among the schools you are looking at. It's a prerequisite that any plumbing tech school that you are evaluating includes a good deal of hands-on instruction. Classes should be small in size and each student should have their own equipment to train with. Classroom teaching needs to provide a real-world context, and the training program should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Courses vary in length and the type of credential provided, so you will have to ascertain what length of program and certificate or degree will best satisfy your needs. Every training program provides unique possibilities for certification also. Perhaps the best way to research your short list of schools is to go to each campus and speak with the teachers and students. Take the time to attend a few classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the program you select is the best one for you. With the proper training, effort and dedication, you can become a professional plumber in Northport AL.