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How to Pick the Best Plumber Vocational School near Oxford Alabama

Oxford Alabama plumbing contractor installing sink faucetThe first step to becoming a plumbing contractor or tradesman is locating a plumbing trade school near Oxford AL. But with numerous technical schools to choose from, just how do you undertake making certain that you enroll in the best one? Particularly because there are so many variables to evaluate. For example, some students will begin by searching for schools that are nearby their home. When they have identified some that are within commuting distance, they will pick the one with the least expensive tuition. While cost and location are of importance, they are not the sole qualifications that should be evaluated. Also important are the accreditation and reputations of the schools, as well as their graduation and job placement rates. These and additional qualifications should influence your final judgment when choosing a plumbing training school. We will cover that checklist in greater detail later in this post. But first, let's review a little bit about becoming a plumber and the training options that are offered.

Becoming a Plumber

Oxford Alabama plumber adjusting water pipe

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 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.

What to Ask Plumbing Trade Schools

Oxford Alabama plumbing contractor repairing hot water heater

Now that you have made a decision to earn a certificate, diploma or degree, you can start to focus your school options. Because there are so many plumbing tech and trade schools in the Oxford AL region, it's essential to have a checklist of qualifications that each school must satisfy. The first 2 that we discussed were location and the cost of tuition. And while both qualifiers may be crucial when making your decision, there are other factors that need to be taken into account as well. Below is a checklist of those added qualifications that you will need to assess prior to selecting a plumber vocational school.

Is the Plumbing School Accredited?  A large number of plumbing technical programs have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They can receive Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, for instance electrical technology. Make certain that the Oxford AL school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping make certain that you acquire an excellent education, it can help in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases not available for non-accredited schools. Additionally, many states require that the plumbing training course be accredited for it to be approved for licensing or certification.

Is the Plumbing School Licensed?  In addition to accreditation, another way of determining if a vocational school you’re reiewing is reputable is by making sure that it’s properly licensed.  Licensing is typically regulated and controlled 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 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 reviewing what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and complete the course. A low completion rate may signify that students were unhappy with the program and quit. It may also signify that the teachers were not competent to train the students. It's also important that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader directory of alumni, which can produce more contacts for the school to utilize for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only confirm that the school has a good reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of contacts to help students obtain apprenticeships or employment in the Oxford AL area.

Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored?  Many plumber vocational programs are taught in conjunction with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating trade and technical schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of plumbing companies or labor unions. Check if the schools you are reviewing have referring relationships with local Oxford AL plumbers or plumbing specialists. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by furnishing practical training, but it also supplies employment opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the regional plumbing professional community.

Are there Modern Facilities?  Make sure 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 already in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the master plumber you are working under regarding what you should be expecting. 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 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, in addition to relocation costs there might be increased tuition charges compared to in-state residents.

Are there Smaller Classes?  It's important that you receive 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 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. Last, speak with some of the teachers and find out what their level of experience is in Oxford AL and what degrees or certifications they hold.

Is the Class Schedule Convenient?  Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are assessing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Oxford AL, check that the schools you are considering offer those options. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Additionally, check out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family emergencies.

Find Out More About Oxford Plumbing Vocational Schools

Enroll in the Right Oxford Plumbing Training School

Picking the ideal plumber training program will probably be the most critical decision you will make to launch your new trade. As we have addressed in this article, there are a number of things that you will need to assess and compare among the training programs you are looking at. It's a necessity that any plumber tech school that you are reviewing includes a good deal of hands-on instruction. Classes should be small in size and each student should have their personal equipment to train with. Classroom instruction needs to provide a real-world frame of reference, and the course of study should be current and conform with industry standards. Programs vary in duration and the type of credential provided, so you will need to determine what length of program and credential will best serve your needs. Each training program offers different options for certification also. Perhaps the best way to research your final list of schools is to check out each campus and talk with the teachers and students. Invest some time to attend a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the program you pick is the right one for you. With the right training, hard work and commitment, you can become a professional plumber in Oxford AL.