How to Pick the Right Plumbing Trade School near Opelika Alabama
The first step to learning to be a plumbing contractor or tradesman is locating a plumbing trade school near Opelika AL. But with so many vocational schools to pick from, just how do you tackle making certain that you enroll in the ideal one? Particularly since there are a number of factors to evaluate. For instance, many prospective students will start by looking for schools that are nearby their residence. When they have found a few that are within driving range, they will choose the one with the least expensive tuition. Although cost and location are of importance, they are not the sole qualifications that need to be examined. Also important are the reputations of the schools, their accreditation, along with their graduation and job placement rates. These and other qualifications should help mold your final judgment when selecting a plumber trade school. We will talk about that checklist in greater detail later in this article. But first, let's talk a little bit about becoming a plumber and the educational options that are accessible.
Becoming 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 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 Plumbing Training Schools
Now that you have decided to earn a certificate, diploma or degree, you can start to focus your training options. Considering that there are numerous plumbing tech and trade schools in the Opelika AL region, it's important to have a checklist of qualifications that each program must meet. The first 2 that we mentioned were location and the cost of tuition. And while both qualifiers may be important when making your determination, there are other 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 technical school.
Is the Plumbing School Accredited? Many plumbing technical schools have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They can earn Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, for example electrical technology. Make sure that the Opelika AL school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping ensure that you receive a quality education, it may assist in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently unavailable for non-accredited programs. 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? Along with accreditation, an additional way of determining if a trade school you’re considering is reputable is by making sure that it’s properly licensed. Licensing is usually controlled and regulated 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 training programs you are reviewing what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and finish the program. A low completion rate could indicate that students were disappointed with the program and quit. It could also indicate that the teachers were not qualified to instruct the students. It's similarly imperative that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader list of alumni, which may produce more contacts for the school to use for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only confirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the field, 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? Many plumber technical programs are taught along with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating trade and vocational schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of plumbing companies or trade unions. Find out if the schools you are considering have working relationships with local Opelika AL plumbers or plumbing companies. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by providing practical training, but it also supplies job opportunities and helps to establish 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 working with on the job. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the master plumber you are working with regarding what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Opelika AL plumbing contracting company if they can provide some pointers.
Where is the School Located? Unless you are willing to move, the school must be within commuting distance of your Opelika AL home. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there may be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Are there Smaller Classes? It's important that you get as much personalized instruction as possible, which can be difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor a couple of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and experience the interaction between instructors and students. Talk to some of the students and get their feedback concerning class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk to some of the instructors 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 programs you are assessing are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you are only able to go to classes at night or on weekends near Opelika AL, confirm that the programs you are comparing offer those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Additionally, check out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Right Opelika Plumber Vocational School
Choosing the ideal plumbing training program will undoubtedly be the most important decision you will make to launch your new profession. As we have addressed in this article, there are many factors that you will need to examine and compare between the training programs you are considering. It's a prerequisite that any plumbing tech school that you are assessing includes a lot of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be small in size and each student should have their own equipment to train with. Classroom education should offer a real-world frame of reference, and the course of study should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Training programs vary in length and the kind of credential offered, so you will need to decide what length of program and credential will best serve your needs. Every training program offers different options for certification also. Perhaps the best means to research your short list of schools is to check out each campus and talk with the faculty and students. Invest some time to sit in on a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the school you pick is the ideal one for you. With the right training, hard work and dedication, you can become a professional plumber in Opelika AL.