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How to Pick the Best Plumbing Vocational School near Oxford Alabama

Oxford Alabama plumbing contractor replacing kitchen 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 technical schools to choose from, just how do you tackle making sure that you enroll in the ideal one? Particularly because there are a number of points to consider. For instance, many potential students will begin by searching for schools that are nearby their residence. When they have found some that are within driving distance, they will decide on the one with the cheapest tuition. Although location and cost are important, they are not the only factors that must be examined. Also important are the reputations of the schools, their accreditation, in addition to their job placement and graduation rates. These and other qualifications should help mold your ultimate judgment when choosing a plumber trade school. We will address that checklist in more detail later in this article. But first, let's review a little bit about becoming a plumber and the educational options that are accessible.

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.

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.

Things to Ask Plumbing Trade Schools

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When you have made a decision to obtain a diploma, certificate or degree, you can start to focus your school options. Because there are so many plumbing vocational and trade schools in the Oxford AL area, it's essential to have a checklist of criteria that each school must meet. The initial 2 that we discussed were location and the cost of tuition. And although both qualifiers may be crucial when making your determination, there are additional variables that must be taken into account also. Following is a checklist of those additional qualifiers that you will need to analyze before choosing a plumber vocational school.

Is the Plumbing School Accredited?  A large number of plumbing vocational programs have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They can acquire Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, such as electrical technology. Confirm that the Oxford AL program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping guarantee that you receive a quality education, it may assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. Additionally, many states mandate that the plumbing training program be accredited for it to qualify for certification or licensing.

Is the Plumbing School Licensed?  In addition to accreditation, an additional way of confirming that a vocational school you’re considering is reputable is by checking 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 looking at what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students who enroll in and complete the course. A low completion rate could suggest that students were dissatisfied with the course and dropped out. It may also indicate that the teachers were not qualified to train the students. It's similarly important that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader directory of alumni, which may produce 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 secure apprenticeships or jobs in the Oxford AL area.

Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored?  Numerous plumber training programs are taught along with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating vocational and trade programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of plumbing companies or labor unions. Find out if the schools you are considering have working relationships with local Oxford AL plumbers or plumbing specialists. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by supplying practical training, but it also supplies job opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the area plumbing professional community.

Are there Modern Facilities?  Confirm that the campus facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are state-of-the-art and what you will be working with on the job. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the master plumber you are working with regarding what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Oxford AL plumbing company if they can provide some pointers.

Where is the School Located?  Unless you are willing to relocate, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Oxford AL home. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there might be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.

Are there Smaller Classes?  It's important that you receive as much individualized training as possible, which can be challenging in larger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a few of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and teachers. Speak to a few of the students and get their feedback regarding class sizes and instruction. Last, speak with some 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?  Confirm that the class schedules for the schools you are evaluating are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you are only able to attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Oxford AL, confirm that the programs you are considering offer those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family responsibilities.

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Enroll in the Best Oxford Plumbing Vocational School

Picking the ideal plumbing trade school will undoubtedly be the most critical decision you will make to launch your new profession. As we have discussed in this article, there are a number of things that you will need to evaluate and compare among the training programs you are reviewing. It's a must that any plumber tech school that you are reviewing includes a considerable amount of hands-on instruction. Classes should be smaller in size and each student should have their personal equipment to train with. Classroom instruction should provide a real-world perspective, and the course of study should be current and in-line with industry standards. Courses differ in duration and the type of credential offered, so you will have to ascertain what length of program and credential will best satisfy your needs. Each training program offers different possibilities for certification as well. Perhaps The ideal means to research your short list of schools is to visit each campus and talk with the students and faculty. Take the time to monitor some classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the program you pick is the ideal one for you. With the proper training, hard work and dedication, you can become a professional plumber in Oxford AL.