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How to Choose the Best Plumbing Technical School near Oxford Alabama

Oxford Alabama plumbing contractor replacing sink faucetThe first step to learning to be a plumbing tradesman or contractor is enrolling in a plumbing trade school near Oxford AL. But with so many vocational 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 examine. For example, some students will commence by looking for schools that are close to their home. Once they have found some that are within commuting range, they will choose the one with the lowest tuition. While cost and location are significant, they are not the sole qualifications that need to be examined. Also important are the accreditation and reputations of the schools, along with their job placement and graduation rates. These and other qualifiers should help mold your final decision when choosing a plumbing trade school. We will discuss that checklist in more detail later in this article. But to begin with, let's review a little bit about becoming a plumber and the instructional options that are available.

Becoming 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.

Topics to Ask Plumbing Technical Schools

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Now that you have made a decision to obtain a certificate, diploma or degree, you can start to refine your school options. Since there are numerous plumbing trade and vocational schools in the Oxford AL area, it's important to have a checklist of criteria that each program must satisfy. The first 2 that we discussed were location and tuition expense. And although both qualifiers may be crucial when making your selection, there are additional factors that must be considered also. Following is a checklist of those additional qualifiers that you will need to research prior to selecting a plumber tech school.

Is the Plumbing School Accredited?  A large number of plumbing technical schools have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They may earn Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, such as electrical technology. Confirm that the Oxford AL school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting agency, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping ensure that you obtain an excellent education, it may assist in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited programs. Furthermore, a number of states require that the plumbing training program 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 vocational school you’re considering is reputable is by making sure that it’s properly licensed.  Licensing is typically 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 complete the course. A lower completion rate may indicate that students were disappointed with the course and dropped out. It might also suggest that the teachers were not qualified to instruct the students. It's also imperative that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader directory of graduates, which can result in more contacts for the school to use for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only validate that the school has a good reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of contacts to assist grads acquire apprenticeships or employment in the Oxford AL area.

Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored?  Most plumber vocational programs are taught along with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating technical and vocational schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of plumbing businesses or trade unions. Check if the schools you are reviewing have working relationships with local Oxford AL plumbers or plumbing companies. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by supplying practical training, but it also supplies job opportunities and helps to build relationships in the area plumbing professional community.

Are there Modern Facilities?  Make sure that the school facilities and the tools that you will be trained on are up-to-date and what you will be working with on the job. 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 company if they can give you some suggestions.

Where is the School Located?  Unless you can move, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Oxford AL residence. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there may be increased tuition charges compared to in-state residents.

Are there Smaller Classes?  It's desirable that you receive as much personalized training as possible, which can be challenging in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor some of the classes so that you can see how big they are and witness first hand the interaction between instructors and students. Speak to a few of the students and get their comments concerning class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak to a few of the instructors and find out 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 schools you are reviewing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you are only able to attend classes at night or on weekends near Oxford AL, confirm that the schools you are reviewing offer those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Finally, check out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family responsibilities.

Learn More About Oxford Plumbing Tech Schools

Enroll in the Right Oxford Plumber Training School

Selecting the ideal 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 things that you will need to examine and compare between the training programs you are reviewing. It's a necessity that any plumber tech school that you are evaluating 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 needs to provide a real-world perspective, and the training program should be current and conform with industry standards. Training programs differ in duration and the type of credential provided, so you will have to ascertain what length of program and certificate or degree will best serve your needs. Every training program offers different possibilities for certification as well. Perhaps The ideal way to research your final list of schools is to check out each campus and talk with the students and instructors. Take the time to monitor some classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the program you decide on is the right one for you. With the right training, effort and dedication, you can become a professional plumber in Oxford AL.