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How to Choose the Right Plumber Training School near Oxford Alabama

Oxford Alabama plumber replacing sink faucetThe first step to learning to be a plumbing contractor or tradesman is locating a plumbing trade school near Oxford AL. But with numerous technical schools to pick from, just how do you approach making sure that you enroll in the ideal one? Especially because there are so many factors to consider. For example, many potential students will start by looking for schools that are nearby their home. Once they have found several that are within commuting distance, they will decide on the one with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are important, they are not the only qualifications that should be examined. Also important are the accreditation and reputations of the schools, along with their job placement and graduation rates. These and additional qualifications should influence your final decision when picking a plumbing trade school. We will cover that checklist in greater detail later in this article. But first, let's review a little bit about becoming a plumber and the educational choices 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 Oxford AL plumber will typically advance through three phases during their professional career.

  • Apprentice. The majority of Oxford 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 Oxford 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 Programs

There are several educational options available near Oxford 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 Plumber Trade Schools

Oxford Alabama plumbing contractor installing hot water heater

Now that you have made a decision to obtain a certificate, diploma or degree, you can start to refine your school options. Considering that there are numerous plumbing trade and vocational schools in the Oxford AL area, it's essential to have a checklist of qualifications that each school must satisfy. The first two that we talked about were location and tuition expense. And even though both qualifiers may be crucial when making your determination, there are additional variables that must be taken into account as well. Below is a checklist of those additional qualifications that you will need to research prior to enrolling in a plumber tech school.

Is the Plumbing School Accredited?  A large number of plumbing vocational schools have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They may acquire Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, for example electrical technology. Confirm that the Oxford 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 make certain that you get a superior education, it may help in securing financial aid or student loans, which are frequently unavailable for non-accredited programs. Furthermore, some states mandate that the plumbing training program be accredited for it to be approved for certification or licensing.

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 checking 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 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 Oxford 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 looking at what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students who enroll in and finish the program. A low completion rate may indicate that students were unhappy with the course and quit. It could also suggest that the teachers were not qualified to instruct the students. It's also essential that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive list of graduates, which can mean more contacts for the school to employ for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only affirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the trade, but additionally that it has the network of contacts to help grads secure apprenticeships or jobs in the Oxford AL area.

Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored?  Most plumber vocational programs are taught together with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating trade and technical programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of plumbing contractors or trade unions. Check if the schools you are considering have working partnerships with local Oxford AL plumbers or plumbing contractors. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by providing practical training, but it also supplies employment opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the local plumbing professional community.

Are there Modern Facilities?  Make certain that the campus facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are state-of-the-art and what you will be working with in the field. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the master plumber you are working under regarding what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Oxford AL plumbing contracting company if they can give you some pointers.

Where is the School Located?  Unless you are able to move, the school must be within driving distance of your Oxford AL residence. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there can 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 bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a few of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between instructors and students. Talk to some of the students and get their feedback concerning class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak to a few of the instructors and learn what their level of experience is in Oxford AL and what degrees or certifications they hold.

Is the Class Schedule Convenient?  Make sure that the class schedules for the schools you are assessing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you are only able to go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Oxford AL, verify that the schools you are looking at offer those choices. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Finally, check out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family responsibilities.

Learn More About Oxford Plumbing Trade Schools

Choose the Best Oxford Plumber Training School

Selecting the right plumbing training program will undoubtedly be the most important 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 assess and compare among the schools you are reviewing. It's a necessity that any plumbing tech school that you are assessing includes a considerable amount of hands-on instruction. Classes should be smaller in size and every student must have their own equipment to train with. Classroom teaching needs to provide a real-world perspective, and the curriculum should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Courses vary in duration and the type of credential provided, so you will need to ascertain what length of program and certificate or degree will best serve your needs. Each training program offers different possibilities for certification as well. Probably The ideal approach to research your final list of schools is to go to each campus and talk with the students and faculty. Take the 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 proper training, hard work and commitment, you can become a professional plumber in Oxford AL.