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How to Choose the Best Plumber Training near Oxford Alabama

Oxford Alabama plumbing contractor repairing kitchen sink faucetThe first step to learning to be a plumbing tradesman or contractor is finding a plumbing trade school near Oxford AL. But with numerous technical schools to pick from, just how do you tackle making sure that you enroll in the ideal one? Particularly since there are so many factors to evaluate. For example, some potential students will start by looking for schools that are nearby their residence. After they have identified some that are within driving range, they will select the one with the cheapest tuition. Although location and cost are of importance, they are not the sole qualifications that must be evaluated. Also important are the reputations of the schools, their accreditation, as well as their graduation and job placement rates. These and additional qualifications should help mold your ultimate judgment when selecting a plumbing training school. We will talk about that checklist in greater detail later in this post. But to begin with, let's talk a little bit about becoming a plumber and the educational options that are offered.

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.

Plumber Certificate and Degree 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.

Points to Ask Plumbing Tech Schools

Oxford Alabama plumbing contractor repairing water heater

When you have decided to earn a diploma, certificate or degree, you can start to narrow down your school options. Since there are so many plumbing vocational and trade schools in the Oxford AL area, it's important to have a checklist of qualifications that each program must meet. The initial two that we talked about were location and tuition expense. And while both qualifiers may be critical when making your decision, there are other variables that need to be taken into account as well. Following is a checklist of those additional qualifications that you will need to assess before choosing a plumber vocational school.

Is the Plumbing School Accredited?  A large number of plumbing vocational programs have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They may attain Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, for instance electrical technology. Make certain that the Oxford 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 guarantee that you obtain a superior education, it can help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable for non-accredited programs. Furthermore, many states mandate that the plumbing training course be accredited in order 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 reiewing 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 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 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 training programs you are looking at what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and complete the course. A lower completion rate may signify that students were unhappy with the course and dropped out. It may also mean that the teachers were not competent to instruct the students. It's similarly important that the schools have high 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 employ for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only confirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of contacts to help grads obtain apprenticeships or jobs in the Oxford AL area.

Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored?  Numerous plumber trade programs are taught together with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating trade and vocational programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of plumbing contractors or labor unions. Check if the schools you are considering have working partnerships with local Oxford AL plumbers or plumbing companies. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by supplying hands-on training, but it also furnishes job opportunities and helps to form relationships in the regional plumbing professional community.

Are there Modern Facilities?  Make certain that the campus facilities and the tools that you will be instructed on are state-of-the-art and what you will be using in the field. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the master plumber you are working under regarding what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Oxford AL plumbing contracting company if they can give you some tips.

Where is the School Located?  Unless you are able to relocate, the school must be within driving distance of your Oxford AL home. Take note that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides the added moving costs there might be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.

Are there Smaller Classes?  It's important that you get as much individualized training as possible, which can be challenging in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor some of the classes so that you can see how big they are and experience the interaction between students and teachers. Talk to some of the students and get their comments concerning class sizes and instruction. Last, talk to a few of the teachers and learn what their level of experience is in Oxford AL and what degrees or certifications 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 can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Oxford AL, verify that the programs you are considering provide those choices. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Finally, ask what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family emergencies.

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Enroll in the Right Oxford Plumbing Trade School

Selecting the right plumbing trade school will undoubtedly be the most critical decision you will make to begin your new profession. As we have discussed in this article, there are many factors that you will need to assess and compare between the training programs you are reviewing. It's a prerequisite that any plumbing training that you are reviewing includes a lot of hands-on training. Classes need to be small in size and each student must have their own equipment to train with. Classroom education needs to provide a real-world context, and the course of study should be current and conform with industry standards. Training programs differ in duration and the type of credential offered, so you will need to ascertain what length of program and certificate or degree will best serve your needs. Every training program offers unique options for certification also. Probably The ideal means to research your short list of schools is to go to each campus and speak with the students and faculty. Take the time to sit in on some classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the program you select is the ideal one for you. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, you can become a professional plumber in Oxford AL.