How to Pick the Best Plumbing Training near Opelika Alabama
The initial step to learning to be a plumbing contractor or tradesman is locating a plumbing trade school near Opelika AL. But with numerous technical schools to select from, just how do you undertake making certain that you enroll in the right one? Especially since there are a number of variables to evaluate. For example, many students will commence by looking for schools that are nearby their home. After they have identified some that are within driving range, they will pick the one with the least expensive tuition. While location and cost are important, they are not the sole things that should be considered. Also important are the reputations of the schools, their accreditation, in addition to their job placement and graduation rates. These and additional qualifications should contribute toward your final judgment when picking a plumbing training school. We will talk about that checklist in more 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 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.
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.
Questions to Ask Plumber Tech Schools
Once you have made a decision to obtain a certificate, diploma or degree, you can begin to focus your training options. Because there are so many plumbing trade and vocational schools in the Opelika AL area, it's imperative to have a checklist of criteria that each school must meet. The initial two that we discussed were location and tuition expense. And although both qualifiers may be crucial when making your determination, there are other factors that must be considered also. Following is a checklist of those additional qualifiers that you will need to assess before enrolling in a plumber tech school.
Is the Plumbing School Accredited? A large number of plumbing technical schools have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They can earn Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, for instance electrical technology. Verify that the Opelika AL school and program are 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 obtain a quality education, it may help in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are often unavailable for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of states mandate that the plumbing training course be accredited in order 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 considering is reputable is by making sure that it’s properly licensed. Licensing is usually regulated and controlled by state agencies, such as the Alabama Department of Education. If you’re not sure, 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 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 portion or percentage of students who enroll in and finish the program. A low completion rate could signify that students were disappointed with the program and dropped out. It may also mean that the instructors were not qualified to train the students. It's similarly imperative 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 will not only confirm that the school has a good reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of contacts to help graduates acquire apprenticeships or jobs in the Opelika AL area.
Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored? Numerous plumber technical programs are taught along with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating vocational and technical schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of plumbing companies or labor unions. Check if the schools you are considering have working partnerships with local Opelika AL plumbers or plumbing professionals. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by furnishing practical training, but it also provides job opportunities and helps to build relationships in the local plumbing professional community.
Are there Modern Facilities? Make sure 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 already in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the master plumber you are working under concerning what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Opelika AL plumbing contracting company if they can provide some tips.
Where is the School Located? Unless you are willing to move, the school must be within driving distance of your Opelika AL residence. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there might be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Are there Smaller Classes? It's desirable that you get as much individualized training 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 instructors and students. Speak to a few of the students and get their feedback regarding class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak to a few 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? Make sure that the class schedules for the schools you are assessing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you are only able to attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Opelika AL, confirm that the schools you are looking at provide those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Finally, ask what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Pick the Best Opelika Plumbing Vocational School
Picking the right plumbing trade school will probably be the most critical decision you will make to start your new trade. As we have addressed in this article, there are many things that you will need to assess and compare among the training programs you are considering. It's a prerequisite that any plumber training program that you are evaluating includes a good deal of hands-on training. Classes need to be small in size and each student must have their own equipment to train with. Classroom instruction should provide a real-world context, and the course of study should be current and conform with industry standards. Courses vary in duration and the type of credential provided, so you will need to determine what length of program and credential will best serve your needs. Each program offers unique possibilities for certification as well. Probably the best means to research your short list of schools is to check out each campus and speak with the faculty and students. Take the time to attend a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the training program you choose is the ideal one for you. With the right training, hard work and dedication, you can become a professional plumber in Opelika AL.