How to Enroll in the Right Plumbing Trade School near Northport Alabama
The initial step to learning to be a plumbing tradesman or contractor is locating a plumbing trade school near Northport AL. But with numerous technical schools to choose from, just how do you approach making sure that you enroll in the right one? Especially since there are a number of factors to consider. For example, many prospective students will commence by searching for schools that are nearby their home. When they have found several that are within driving range, they will decide on 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 accreditation and reputations of the schools, along with their graduation and job placement rates. These and additional qualifications should help mold your ultimate judgment when picking a plumbing trade school. We will discuss that checklist in more detail later in this post. But first, let's review a little bit about becoming a plumber and the educational choices that are offered.
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 Tech Schools
Once you have decided to earn a certificate, diploma or degree, you can start to focus your school options. Considering that there are so many plumbing trade and vocational schools in the Northport AL region, it's essential to have a checklist of criteria that each school must meet. The initial 2 that we talked about were location and the cost of tuition. And although both qualifiers may be important when making your selection, there are other factors that need to be taken into account as well. Following is a checklist of those added qualifications that you will need to analyze prior to selecting a plumber technical school.
Is the Plumbing School Accredited? A large number of plumbing technical programs have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They can attain Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, for instance electrical technology. Confirm that the Northport AL school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping guarantee that you receive a quality education, it may assist in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable for non-accredited programs. Additionally, many states require that the plumbing training program be accredited for it to qualify for licensing or certification.
Is the Plumbing School Licensed? In addition to accreditation, another way of determining if a vocational school you’re reiewing 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 schools you are considering what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and complete the program. A low completion rate could suggest that students were dissatisfied with the course and dropped out. It may also suggest that the teachers were not qualified to instruct the students. It's similarly essential that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive directory of graduates, which can produce more contacts for the school to utilize 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 trade, but also that it has the network of contacts to help students obtain apprenticeships or jobs in the Northport AL area.
Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored? Many plumber technical programs are taught along with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating technical and vocational programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of plumbing businesses or labor unions. Check if the schools you are considering have working relationships with local Northport AL plumbers or plumbing contractors. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by furnishing practical training, but it also provides job opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the regional plumbing professional community.
Are there Modern Facilities? Confirm that the campus facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are state-of-the-art and what you will be working with in the field. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the master plumber you are working with concerning what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Northport AL plumbing company if they can give you some suggestions.
Where is the School Located? Unless you are willing to move, the school must be within commuting distance of your Northport AL home. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there may be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Are there Smaller Classes? It's important that you get as much personalized instruction as possible, which can be difficult in larger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a few of the classes so that you can see how big they are and experience the interaction between instructors and students. Talk with a few of the students and get their comments regarding class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak with a few of the teachers and find out what their level of experience is in Northport AL and what certifications or degrees they have earned.
Is the Class Schedule Convenient? Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are evaluating are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Northport AL, check that the programs you are comparing offer those choices. If you can only attend part-time, make certain that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Additionally, find out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family issues.
Enroll in the Right Northport Plumber Vocational School
Selecting the best plumbing training program will undoubtedly be the most critical decision you will make to begin your new career. As we have discussed in this article, there are several factors that you will need to assess and compare between the schools you are reviewing. It's a necessity that any plumber training program that you are examining includes a considerable amount of hands-on training. Classes should be smaller in size and each student must have their personal equipment to train with. Classroom instruction should offer a real-world context, and the course of study should be current and in-line with industry standards. 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 fulfill your needs. Each program offers unique options for certification as well. Perhaps The ideal way to research your final list of schools is to go to each campus and speak with the teachers and students. Take the time to sit in on some classes. Tour 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 right training, effort and dedication, you can become a professional plumber in Northport AL.