How to Find the Best Plumbing School near Opelika Alabama
The first step to becoming a plumbing contractor or tradesman is finding a plumbing trade school near Opelika AL. But with so many vocational schools to select from, just how do you tackle making sure that you enroll in the ideal one? Especially because there are a number of factors to consider. For example, some students will start by looking for schools that are nearby their residence. After they have identified several that are within commuting range, they will pick the one with the most affordable tuition. Even though location and cost are of importance, they are not the only qualifications that must be examined. Also critical are the accreditation and reputations of the schools, in addition to their graduation and job placement rates. These and additional qualifications should contribute toward your ultimate judgment when choosing a plumbing training school. We will talk about that checklist in greater detail later in this post. But first, let's review a little bit about becoming a plumber and the training options 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 Opelika AL plumber will typically advance through three phases during their professional career.
- Apprentice. The majority of Opelika 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 Opelika 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 Opelika 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 Tech Schools
When you have made a decision to earn a certificate, diploma or degree, you can start to focus your school options. Considering that there are so many plumbing tech and trade schools in the Opelika AL region, it's important to have a checklist of criteria that each school must satisfy. The initial two that we discussed were location and tuition expense. And although both qualifiers may be important when making your decision, there are additional factors that need to be considered as well. Following is a checklist of those additional qualifications that you will need to research prior to selecting a plumber tech school.
Is the Plumbing School Accredited? Many plumbing technical programs have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They can acquire Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, such as electrical technology. Confirm that the Opelika AL program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping guarantee that you obtain an excellent education, it can help in securing financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable for non-accredited programs. Furthermore, a number of states require that the plumbing training program be accredited for it to qualify for certification or licensing.
Is the Plumbing School Licensed? In addition to accreditation, another way of confirming that a trade school you’re reiewing is reputable is by making sure 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 check to ensure 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 Opelika 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 or portion of students who enroll in and finish the program. A low completion rate may signify that students were dissatisfied with the program and quit. It might also mean that the teachers were not qualified to train the students. It's also essential that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader directory of graduates, which may result in more contacts for the school to employ for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only validate that the school has a good reputation within the trade, but additionally that it has the network of contacts to assist students acquire apprenticeships or jobs in the Opelika AL area.
Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored? Most plumber trade programs are taught together with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating technical and vocational programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of plumbing contractors or trade unions. Find out if the schools you are comparing have working relationships with local Opelika AL plumbers or plumbing contractors. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by supplying hands-on training, but it also provides job opportunities and helps to build relationships in the area plumbing professional community.
Are there Modern Facilities? Make certain that the school facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are up-to-date and what you will be using in the field. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the master plumber you are working under concerning what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Opelika AL plumbing contractor if they can give you some suggestions.
Where is the School Located? Unless you are able to move, the school must be within driving distance of your Opelika AL residence. Take note that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides the added moving costs there may be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Are there Smaller Classes? It's important that you receive as much personalized 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 see how big they are and experience the interaction between instructors and students. Talk with some of the students and get their comments relating to class sizes and instruction. Last, speak with some of the teachers and find out what their level of experience is in Opelika AL and what degrees or certifications they have earned.
Is the Class Schedule Convenient? Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are evaluating are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you are only able to attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Opelika AL, verify that the schools you are comparing offer those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Also, check out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Opelika Plumber Vocational School
Choosing the right plumbing training program will probably be the most critical decision you will make to begin your new trade. As we have discussed in this article, there are several things that you will need to examine and compare between the schools you are considering. It's a necessity that any plumber training that you are evaluating includes a lot of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be small in size and every student should have their own equipment to train with. Classroom teaching needs to provide a real-world frame of reference, and the course of study should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Training programs vary in length and the type of credential offered, so you will need to determine what length of program and certificate or degree will best serve your needs. Each program provides unique possibilities for certification also. Perhaps The ideal means to research your short list of schools is to check out each campus and talk with the teachers and students. Take the time to sit in on some classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the school you decide on is the best one for you. With the right training, hard work and dedication, you can become a professional plumber in Opelika AL.