How to Select the Best Plumbing Training School near Oxford Alabama
The initial step to learning to be a plumbing contractor or tradesman is finding a plumbing trade school near Oxford AL. But with so many technical schools to choose from, just how do you approach making sure that you enroll in the ideal one? Especially since there are so many variables to consider. For example, some potential students will start by searching for schools that are close to their residence. Once they have found some that are within driving range, they will choose the one with the cheapest tuition. Although cost and location are important, they are not the sole qualifications that must be evaluated. Also critical are the accreditation and reputations of the schools, as well as their graduation and job placement rates. These and additional qualifiers should influence your ultimate judgment when selecting a plumbing trade school. We will cover that checklist in greater detail later in this article. But to begin with, let's review a little bit about becoming a plumber and the training choices that are offered.
Becoming a Plumber
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 ProgramsThere 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
Once you have made a decision to obtain a certificate, diploma or degree, you can begin to focus your training options. Considering that 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 school must satisfy. The initial two that we talked about were location and tuition expense. And while both qualifiers may be crucial when making your determination, there are other factors that need to be taken into account also. Following is a checklist of those additional qualifiers that you will need to research before choosing a plumber trade school.
Is the Plumbing School Accredited? Numerous plumbing vocational programs have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They may receive Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, for instance electrical technology. Make certain that the Oxford AL program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping ensure that you receive a quality education, it may assist in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases not available for non-accredited schools. Furthermore, a number of states require that the plumbing training course be accredited for it to qualify for licensing or certification.
Is the Plumbing School Licensed? Along with accreditation, an additional way of confirming that 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 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 considering what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage or portion of students who enroll in and complete the program. A lower completion rate may suggest that students were unhappy with the course and dropped out. It might also suggest that the instructors were not qualified to train the students. It's similarly essential that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive list of alumni, which can produce more contacts for the school to use for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only confirm that the school has a good reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of contacts to help grads secure apprenticeships or employment in the Oxford AL area.
Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored? Most plumber training programs are taught along with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating vocational and technical schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of plumbing companies or trade unions. Check if the schools you are comparing have referring relationships with local Oxford AL plumbers or plumbing professionals. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by supplying hands-on 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 campus facilities and the tools that you will be instructed on are up-to-date and what you will be working with in the field. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the master plumber you are working with concerning what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Oxford AL plumbing contracting company if they can provide some suggestions.
Where is the School Located? Unless you are willing to relocate, the school must be within commuting distance of your Oxford AL home. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there may be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Are there Smaller Classes? It's desirable that you receive as much personalized 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 large they are and witness first hand the interaction between teachers and students. Talk to several of the students and get their feedback concerning class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk with some of the teachers and find out what their level of experience is in Oxford AL and what certifications or degrees they have earned.
Is the Class Schedule Convenient? Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are evaluating are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you are only able to go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Oxford AL, verify that the programs you are comparing offer those choices. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Also, check out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family issues.
Pick the Right Oxford Plumber Training School
Selecting the ideal plumber training program will probably be the most important decision you will make to begin your new trade. As we have covered in this article, there are several factors that you will need to assess and compare between the training programs you are considering. It's a necessity that any plumbing training program that you are evaluating includes a good deal of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be small in size and each student must have their personal equipment to train with. Classroom education needs to offer a real-world frame of reference, and the course of study should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Courses vary in duration and the kind of credential offered, so you will have to determine what length of program and certificate or degree will best fulfill your needs. Every training program offers different options for certification as well. Probably The ideal means to research your final list of schools is to check out each campus and speak with the students and instructors. Invest some time to sit in on a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the program you pick is the right one for you. With the proper training, hard work and dedication, you can become a professional plumber in Oxford AL.