How to Choose the Right Plumber School near Oxford Alabama
The first 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 pick from, just how do you go about making sure that you enroll in the right one? Particularly since there are so many factors to evaluate. For example, many potential students will start by searching for schools that are nearby their home. When they have identified several that are within driving range, they will pick the one with the cheapest tuition. Even though location and cost are of importance, they are not the sole qualifications that must be considered. Also important are the reputations of the schools, their accreditation, along with their graduation and job placement rates. These and additional qualifiers should contribute toward your final decision when choosing a plumbing training school. We will discuss that checklist in more detail later in this article. But to begin with, let's talk a little bit about becoming a plumber and the instructional options that are offered.
What is 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.
Plumbing 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 Plumber Technical Schools
Once you have decided to obtain a certificate, diploma or degree, you can start to focus your training options. Considering that there are numerous plumbing trade and vocational schools in the Oxford AL region, it's imperative to have a checklist of qualifications that each school must satisfy. The initial 2 that we discussed were location and tuition expense. And although both qualifiers may be critical when making your determination, there are additional variables that must be taken into account as well. Below is a checklist of those added qualifications that you will need to research before enrolling in a plumber technical school.
Is the Plumbing School Accredited? Numerous plumbing technical schools have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They can attain Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, for instance electrical technology. Make sure that the Oxford AL program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting organization, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping ensure that you obtain a quality education, it can assist in acquiring 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 in order to be approved for certification or licensing.
Is the Plumbing School Licensed? Along with accreditation, another way of confirming that a trade 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 don’t know, 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 schools 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 lower completion rate could indicate that students were unhappy with the course and dropped out. It could also indicate that the teachers were not competent to instruct the students. It's also important that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive list of alumni, which can mean more contacts for the school to employ for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only validate that the school has an excellent reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of contacts to help graduates acquire apprenticeships or jobs 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 trade and technical schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of plumbing companies or labor unions. Find out if the schools you are comparing have referring partnerships with local Oxford AL plumbers or plumbing specialists. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by supplying practical training, but it also furnishes job opportunities and helps to build relationships in the regional plumbing professional community.
Are there Modern Facilities? Make sure that the campus facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are up-to-date and what you will be using on the job. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the master plumber you are working under concerning what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Oxford AL plumbing contractor if they can give you 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. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there can 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 difficult in larger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a couple of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between instructors and students. Speak with some of the students and get their feedback relating to class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk with 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? Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are evaluating are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you are only able to go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Oxford AL, confirm that the programs you are comparing provide those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Additionally, check out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
Pick the Best Oxford Plumber Trade School
Selecting the right plumber training program will undoubtedly be the most critical decision you will make to begin your new career. As we have covered in this article, there are many factors that you will need to examine and compare among the schools you are considering. It's a necessity that any plumber training program that you are assessing includes a lot of hands-on training. Classes need to be small in size and every student must have their personal equipment to train with. Classroom education should provide a real-world context, and the course of study should be current and in-line with industry standards. Programs differ in duration and the type of credential provided, so you will need to determine what length of program and certificate or degree will best fulfill your needs. Each program provides different possibilities for certification also. Probably the best way to research your short list of schools is to go to each campus and speak with the teachers and students. Invest some time to attend some classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the training program you choose is the ideal one for you. With the right training, effort and commitment, you can become a professional plumber in Oxford AL.