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How to Find the Best Plumber Training near Oxford Alabama

Oxford Alabama plumbing contractor repairing sink faucetThe initial step to becoming a plumbing tradesman or contractor is finding a plumbing trade school near Oxford AL. But with so many technical schools to select from, just how do you approach making sure that you enroll in the best one? Particularly since there are so many variables to examine. For instance, many potential students will start by searching for schools that are nearby their home. When they have found some that are within commuting range, they will decide on the one with the least expensive tuition. Although location and cost are significant, they are not the sole qualifications that must be considered. Also important are the accreditation and reputations of the schools, in addition to their graduation and job placement rates. These and additional qualifiers should help mold your final decision when picking a plumbing training school. We will talk about that checklist in greater detail later in this article. But first, let's review a little bit about becoming a plumber and the educational options that are accessible.

What is a Plumber?

Oxford Alabama plumber adjusting sink 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.

Plumbing 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.

What to Ask Plumber Training Schools

Oxford Alabama plumber installing water heater

Now that you have made a decision to earn a diploma, certificate or degree, you can start to narrow down your training options. Since there are so many plumbing vocational and trade schools in the Oxford AL area, it's imperative to have a checklist of qualifications that each school must satisfy. The initial 2 that we discussed were location and the cost of tuition. And while both qualifiers may be crucial when making your selection, there are other factors that need to be considered also. Following is a checklist of those additional qualifiers that you will need to assess before choosing a plumber tech school.

Is the Plumbing School Accredited?  Numerous plumbing trade schools have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They can earn Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, for example electrical technology. Confirm that the Oxford AL program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping make certain that you obtain an excellent education, it may assist in securing financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases not available for non-accredited programs. Additionally, a number of states mandate that the plumbing training course be accredited in order to qualify for licensing or certification.

Is the Plumbing School Licensed?  In addition to accreditation, another way of confirming that a vocational school you’re reiewing 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’re not sure, 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 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 considering what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and finish the program. A low completion rate might indicate that students were unhappy with the course and quit. It might also suggest that the teachers were not qualified to train the students. It's also important that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader list of alumni, which may mean more contacts for the school to use 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 assist grads obtain apprenticeships or employment in the Oxford AL area.

Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored?  Many plumber trade programs are taught in conjunction with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating technical and vocational schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of plumbing businesses or trade unions. Find out if the schools you are comparing have working relationships with local Oxford AL plumbers or plumbing companies. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by furnishing practical training, but it also provides job opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the regional plumbing professional community.

Are there Modern Facilities?  Make certain that the school facilities and the tools that you will be instructed on are state-of-the-art and what you will be working with on the job. 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. Otherwise, ask a local Oxford AL plumbing company if they can give you some tips.

Where is the School Located?  Unless you can move, the school must be within driving distance of your Oxford AL home. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there might be increased tuition fees 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 difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a few of the classes so that you can see how big they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and teachers. Speak with a few of the students and get their opinions relating to class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk to some of the teachers and learn what their level of experience is in Oxford AL and what certifications or degrees they hold.

Is the Class Schedule Convenient?  Confirm that the class schedules for the schools you are evaluating are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you are only able to attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Oxford AL, verify that the programs you are looking at offer those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family responsibilities.

Find Out More About Oxford Plumber Trade Schools

Pick the Right Oxford Plumber Training School

Picking the ideal plumbing trade school will probably be the most critical decision you will make to begin your new career. As we have addressed in this article, there are many things that you will need to examine and compare between the training programs you are considering. It's a necessity that any plumber tech school that you are evaluating includes a good deal of hands-on training. Classes need to be small in size and each student should have their personal equipment to train with. Classroom teaching needs to provide a real-world frame of reference, and the course of study should be current and conform with industry standards. Courses vary in duration and the kind of credential offered, so you will have to decide what length of program and credential will best fulfill your needs. Every program offers unique possibilities for certification as well. Perhaps The ideal means to research your short list of schools is to go to each campus and talk with the teachers and students. Take the time to sit in on a few classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the training program you pick is the right one for you. With the right training, hard work and dedication, you can become a professional plumber in Oxford AL.