How to Find the Best Plumbing Training near Opelika Alabama
The initial step to becoming a plumbing contractor or tradesman is finding a plumbing trade school near Opelika AL. But with so many technical schools to select from, just how do you approach making sure that you enroll in the right one? Particularly because there are a number of variables to consider. For example, some prospective students will start by looking for schools that are nearby their home. Once they have identified several that are within driving range, they will decide on the one with the least expensive tuition. Although location and cost are of importance, they are not the only qualifications that must be considered. Also critical are the reputations of the schools, their accreditation, along with their graduation and job placement rates. These and additional qualifications should contribute toward your final decision when choosing a plumber trade school. We will cover 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 training choices that are available.
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.
Plumbing Certificate and Degree 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.
Topics to Ask Plumber Trade Schools
Once you have made a decision to obtain a certificate, diploma or degree, you can begin to focus your training options. Since there are numerous plumbing vocational and trade schools in the Opelika AL region, it's imperative to have a checklist of criteria that each program must meet. The first two that we discussed were location and tuition expense. And while both qualifiers may be crucial when making your decision, there are other variables that must be taken into account as well. Below is a checklist of those added qualifiers that you will need to analyze before selecting a plumber technical school.
Is the Plumbing School Accredited? Numerous plumbing vocational programs have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They can attain Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, for instance electrical technology. Verify that the Opelika AL school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping ensure that you obtain a quality education, it may help in securing financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of states require that the plumbing training program be accredited for it to be approved for licensing or certification.
Is the Plumbing School Licensed? Along with accreditation, another way of confirming that a trade 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 regulates 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 schools you are reviewing what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and finish the course. A lower completion rate might indicate that students were disappointed with the course and dropped out. It could also suggest that the instructors were not competent to train the students. It's similarly important that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader directory of alumni, which can produce more contacts for the school to use for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only confirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of contacts to assist graduates obtain apprenticeships or employment in the Opelika AL area.
Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored? Many plumber vocational programs are taught along with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating technical 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 comparing have working partnerships with local Opelika AL plumbers or plumbing professionals. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by supplying practical training, but it also supplies job opportunities and helps to build relationships in the area plumbing professional community.
Are there Modern Facilities? Confirm 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 on the job. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the master plumber you are working under regarding what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Opelika AL plumbing contracting company if they can provide some suggestions.
Where is the School Located? Unless you are able to move, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Opelika 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 important that you get as much one-on-one training as possible, which can be challenging 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 witness first hand the interaction between students and instructors. Speak with a few of the students and get their opinions relating to class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk with some of the teachers and learn what their level of experience is in Opelika AL and what certifications or degrees they have earned.
Is the Class Schedule Convenient? Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are evaluating are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you are only able to go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Opelika AL, check that the programs you are looking at provide those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, be sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family responsibilities.
Learn More About Opelika Plumbing Trade Schools
Pick the Right Opelika Plumbing Trade School
Picking the ideal plumbing trade school will probably be the most critical decision you will make to launch your new trade. As we have discussed in this article, there are many things that you will need to assess and compare between the training programs you are considering. It's a necessity that any plumber training program that you are examining includes a considerable amount of hands-on training. Classes need to be small in size and every student should have their own equipment to train with. Classroom education should offer a real-world frame of reference, and the course of study should be current and in-line with industry standards. Training programs differ in duration and the kind of credential provided, so you will need to ascertain what length of program and degree or certificate will best serve your needs. Every training program provides unique possibilities for certification also. Probably The ideal way to research your final list of schools is to go to each campus and talk with the faculty and students. Invest some time to monitor some classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the training program you choose is the ideal one for you. With the proper training, hard work and dedication, you can become a professional plumber in Opelika AL.