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How to Find the Best Plumber Vocational School near Opelika Alabama

Opelika Alabama plumbing contractor repairing sink faucetThe initial step to learning to be a plumbing tradesman or contractor is enrolling in a plumbing trade school near Opelika AL. But with numerous technical schools to pick from, just how do you go about making sure that you enroll in the best one? Particularly because there are so many factors to evaluate. For instance, many potential students will begin by searching for schools that are close to their home. After they have found some that are within commuting distance, they will select the one with the least expensive tuition. While location and cost are significant, they are not the sole qualifications that must be considered. Also critical are the accreditation and reputations of the schools, in addition to their graduation and job placement rates. These and additional qualifications should help mold your final judgment when selecting a plumber trade school. We will discuss that checklist in greater detail later in this post. But first, let's talk a little bit about becoming a plumber and the training options that are available.

What is 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.

Plumbing Degree and Certificate 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.

Questions to Ask Plumbing Trade Schools

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When you have made a decision to earn a certificate, diploma or degree, you can begin to refine your school options. Since there are numerous plumbing trade and vocational schools in the Opelika AL region, it's imperative to have a checklist of qualifications that each program must satisfy. The first two that we talked about were location and the cost of tuition. And while both qualifiers may be crucial when making your decision, there are additional variables that need to be considered as well. Below is a checklist of those additional qualifiers that you will need to analyze before choosing a plumber technical school.

Is the Plumbing School Accredited?  Many plumbing technical schools have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They may earn Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, such as electrical technology. Make certain that the Opelika AL program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting organization, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping make certain that you receive a quality education, it can assist in securing financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited schools. Additionally, a number of states require that the plumbing training program be accredited for it to qualify for licensing or certification.

Is the Plumbing School Licensed?  In addition to accreditation, an additional way of confirming that a trade school you’re considering 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 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 lower completion rate could signify that students were dissatisfied with the program and quit. It might also indicate that the teachers were not qualified to train the students. It's similarly essential that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive directory of graduates, which may produce 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 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?  Most plumber training programs are taught in conjunction with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating trade 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 referring partnerships with local Opelika AL plumbers or plumbing specialists. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by providing 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 up-to-date and what you will be using on the job. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the master plumber you are working with regarding what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Opelika AL plumbing contractor if they can provide some pointers.

Where is the School Located?  Unless you are willing to relocate, the school must be within driving distance of your Opelika AL home. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there might be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.

Are there Smaller Classes?  It's important that you get as much individualized instruction 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 observe how big they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and instructors. Talk to several of the students and get their opinions regarding class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk with a few of the instructors and find out what their level of experience is in Opelika AL and what certifications or degrees they hold.

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

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Pick the Best Opelika Plumber Training School

Picking the right plumber trade school will undoubtedly be the most critical decision you will make to begin your new profession. As we have addressed in this article, there are several factors that you will need to examine and compare between the schools you are looking at. It's a must that any plumber training that you are examining includes a good deal of hands-on training. Classes should be small in size and each student should have their own equipment to train with. Classroom instruction needs to offer a real-world perspective, and the curriculum should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Training programs differ in length and the type of credential provided, so you will have to decide what length of program and credential will best satisfy your needs. Every training program offers unique possibilities for certification also. Probably The ideal approach to research your short list of schools is to go to each campus and talk with the students and instructors. Take the time to sit in on a few classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the school you select is the right one for you. With the right training, hard work and commitment, you can become a professional plumber in Opelika AL.