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How to Select the Best Plumbing Course near Opelika Alabama

Opelika Alabama plumbing contractor repairing kitchen sink faucetThe initial step to becoming a plumbing tradesman or contractor is enrolling in a plumbing trade school near Opelika AL. But with numerous vocational schools to pick from, just how do you go about making certain that you enroll in the ideal one? Particularly since there are a number of variables to evaluate. For example, some students will commence by looking for schools that are close to their home. After they have located a few that are within driving distance, they will choose the one with the least expensive tuition. While location and cost are significant, they are not the only factors that need to be evaluated. Also critical are the accreditation and reputations of the schools, as well as their graduation and job placement rates. These and other qualifiers should influence your ultimate decision when picking a plumber training school. We will discuss that checklist in more detail later in this post. But to begin with, let's review a little bit about becoming a plumber and the educational options that are available.

Becoming a Plumber

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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 Certificate and Degree Options

There 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 Plumbing Training Schools

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Once you have decided to obtain a certificate, diploma or degree, you can begin to refine your training options. Because there are numerous plumbing trade and vocational schools in the Opelika AL area, it's imperative to have a checklist of criteria that each school must satisfy. The first 2 that we mentioned were location and the cost of tuition. And while both qualifiers may be important when making your decision, there are additional factors that need to be taken into account as well. Below is a checklist of those additional qualifiers that you will need to analyze prior to enrolling in a plumber vocational school.

Is the Plumbing School Accredited?  A large number of plumbing vocational schools have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They can acquire Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, such as electrical technology. Make certain that the Opelika AL school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping make certain that you acquire a quality education, it can assist in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited programs. Additionally, many states mandate that the plumbing training course be accredited in order to be approved for certification or licensing.

Is the Plumbing School Licensed?  Along with accreditation, an additional way of determining if a vocational school you’re considering is reputable is by checking that it’s properly licensed.  Licensing is typically regulated and controlled 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 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 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 could also signify that the instructors were not qualified to instruct the students. It's also imperative that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive directory of graduates, which can mean more contacts for the school to use 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 industry, but additionally 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 trade 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 labor unions. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have referring partnerships with local Opelika AL plumbers or plumbing companies. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by furnishing practical training, but it also supplies employment opportunities and helps to build relationships in the local plumbing professional community.

Are there Modern Facilities?  Confirm that the school facilities and the tools that you will be trained on are up-to-date 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 with concerning what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Opelika AL plumbing company if they can provide some tips.

Where is the School Located?  Unless you are able to relocate, 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 fees compared to in-state residents.

Are there Smaller Classes?  It's important that you receive as much one-on-one training as possible, which can be difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a few of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and experience the interaction between teachers and students. Speak with several of the students and get their comments relating to class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk with some of the instructors and learn what their level of experience is in Opelika AL and what degrees or certifications they hold.

Is the Class Schedule Convenient?  Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are assessing are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you are only able to attend classes at night or on weekends near Opelika AL, check that the schools you are comparing provide those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Additionally, check out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family issues.

Find Out More About Opelika Plumber Vocational Schools

Pick the Best Opelika Plumbing Training School

Selecting the ideal plumber training program will probably be the most critical decision you will make to start your new career. As we have addressed in this article, there are several things that you will need to assess and compare between the schools you are reviewing. It's a necessity that any plumbing training that you are reviewing includes a good deal of hands-on training. Classes need to be smaller in size and each student must have their personal equipment to train with. Classroom instruction needs to provide a real-world frame of reference, and the training program should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Programs vary in length and the kind of credential provided, so you will have to determine what length of program and certificate or degree will best fulfill your needs. Every training program offers different possibilities for certification as well. Probably the best means to research your short list of schools is to visit each campus and talk with the teachers and students. Invest some time to attend some classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the school you pick is the best one for you. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, you can become a professional plumber in Opelika AL.