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How to Pick the Right Plumber Technical School near Opelika Alabama

Opelika Alabama plumber repairing sink faucetThe initial step to becoming a plumbing tradesman or contractor is enrolling in a plumbing trade school near Opelika AL. But with so many technical schools to pick from, just how do you undertake making certain that you enroll in the best one? Especially since there are so many factors to evaluate. For example, some prospective students will begin by searching for schools that are nearby their home. Once they have found some that are within commuting range, they will select the one with the lowest tuition. While cost and location are significant, they are not the only things that must be evaluated. Also critical are the reputations of the schools, their accreditation, along with their graduation and job placement rates. These and additional qualifiers should contribute toward your final decision when picking a plumber trade school. We will talk about that checklist in more 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.

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.

Points to Ask Plumber Trade Schools

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Now that you have made a decision to earn a diploma, certificate or degree, you can start to focus your school options. Because there are so many plumbing vocational and trade schools in the Opelika 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 tuition expense. And even though both qualifiers may be crucial when making your determination, there are additional factors that must be considered as well. Below is a checklist of those additional qualifiers that you will need to research before enrolling in a plumber tech school.

Is the Plumbing School Accredited?  Numerous plumbing trade schools have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They may receive Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, for example electrical technology. Verify that the Opelika AL program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping guarantee that you obtain a superior education, it may assist in securing financial aid or student loans, which are frequently unavailable for non-accredited programs. Also, a number of states require that the plumbing training program be accredited in order to be approved for licensing or certification.

Is the Plumbing School Licensed?  Along with accreditation, another way of confirming that a vocational school you’re considering is reputable is by checking that it’s properly licensed.  Licensing is usually 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 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 considering what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students who enroll in and complete the program. A lower completion rate may suggest that students were unhappy with the program and dropped out. It could also suggest that the instructors were not competent to train the students. It's also important that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader directory of graduates, which can result in more contacts for the school to employ for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only affirm that the school has a good reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of contacts to help graduates obtain apprenticeships or jobs in the Opelika AL area.

Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored?  A large number of plumber trade programs are taught in conjunction 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 contractors or labor unions. Find out if the schools you are considering have working relationships with local Opelika AL plumbers or plumbing professionals. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by furnishing practical training, but it also furnishes employment opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the local 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 working with in the field. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the master plumber you are working with regarding what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Opelika AL plumbing company if they can give you some suggestions.

Where is the School Located?  Unless you are willing to relocate, the school needs to 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 instruction as possible, which can be challenging in bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on some of the classes so that you can see how large they are and experience the interaction between students and instructors. Speak with some of the students and get their feedback concerning class sizes and instruction. Last, talk to some of the teachers and learn what their level of experience is in Opelika AL and what degrees or certifications they hold.

Is the Class Schedule Convenient?  Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are assessing are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Opelika AL, confirm that the programs you are looking at provide those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family emergencies.

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Enroll in the Best Opelika Plumber Trade School

Choosing the ideal 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 evaluate and compare between the schools you are reviewing. It's a necessity that any plumbing training that you are assessing includes a lot of hands-on instruction. Classes should be small in size and each student must have their own equipment to train with. Classroom teaching needs to offer a real-world frame of reference, and the course of study should be current and conform with industry standards. Programs vary in duration and the kind of credential offered, so you will need to decide what length of program and certificate or degree will best fulfill your needs. Every training program offers unique options for certification as well. Perhaps The ideal means to research your final list of schools is to visit each campus and speak with the faculty and students. Invest some time to monitor some classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the school you select is the best one for you. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, you can become a professional plumber in Opelika AL.