How to Choose the Best Plumbing Tech School near Opelika Alabama
The initial step to learning to be a plumbing tradesman or contractor is finding a plumbing trade school near Opelika AL. But with numerous technical schools to select from, just how do you go about making sure that you enroll in the right one? Particularly since there are so many variables to consider. For instance, some potential students will start by looking for schools that are nearby their home. Once they have found several that are within driving distance, they will select the one with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are important, they are not the sole qualifications that must be considered. Also important are the accreditation and reputations of the schools, as well as their job placement and graduation rates. These and other qualifications should influence your ultimate judgment when picking a plumber training school. We will discuss 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 instructional choices that are accessible.
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 OptionsThere 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 Vocational Schools
Once you have decided to obtain a certificate, diploma or degree, you can begin to refine your school options. Considering that there are so many plumbing trade and vocational schools in the Opelika AL region, it's important to have a checklist of qualifications that each school must meet. The initial 2 that we mentioned were location and the cost of tuition. And even though both qualifiers may be important when making your determination, there are other factors that need to be taken into account as well. Below is a checklist of those added qualifiers that you will need to assess before enrolling in a plumber technical school.
Is the Plumbing School Accredited? Numerous plumbing technical schools have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They can acquire Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, such as electrical technology. Verify that the Opelika AL school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping make certain that you acquire a quality education, it may help in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited programs. Additionally, a number of states mandate that the plumbing training course be accredited for it to qualify for certification or licensing.
Is the Plumbing School Licensed? In addition to accreditation, an additional way of confirming that a vocational school you’re reiewing 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 don’t know, ask the school which state agency is responsible for 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 training programs you are considering what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and finish the program. A lower completion rate may indicate that students were unhappy with the program and quit. It could also mean that the teachers were not competent to train 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 alumni, which can mean more contacts for the school to utilize 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 field, but also that it has the network of contacts to help grads acquire apprenticeships or employment in the Opelika AL area.
Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored? A large number of plumber training programs are taught together 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 businesses or trade 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 valuable experience by providing practical training, but it also supplies job opportunities and helps to build relationships in the local plumbing professional community.
Are there Modern Facilities? Confirm that the school facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are up-to-date and what you will be using in the field. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the master plumber you are working under concerning what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Opelika AL plumbing contractor if they can give you some pointers.
Where is the School Located? Unless you can move, the school must be within commuting 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 can be increased tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Are there Smaller Classes? It's important that you get as much one-on-one instruction as possible, which can be challenging in larger classes. Ask if you can sit in on some of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and experience the interaction between teachers and students. Talk to some of the students and get their feedback concerning class sizes and instruction. Last, speak to some of the teachers and find out 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 evaluating are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Opelika AL, verify that the programs you are looking at offer those options. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Right Opelika Plumbing Trade School
Selecting the right plumber training program will undoubtedly be the most critical decision you will make to launch your new career. As we have covered in this article, there are several things that you will need to examine and compare between the schools you are looking at. It's a must that any plumber tech school that you are considering includes a considerable amount of hands-on instruction. Classes should be smaller in size and each student must have their personal equipment to train with. Classroom instruction needs to offer a real-world frame of reference, and the course of study should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Programs differ in length and the kind of credential offered, so you will need to determine what length of program and credential will best satisfy your needs. Each program provides unique options for certification also. Perhaps The ideal way to research your short list of schools is to visit each campus and talk with the students and instructors. Invest some time to monitor a few classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the program you pick is the best one for you. With the right training, effort and commitment, you can become a professional plumber in Opelika AL.