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How to Pick the Right Plumber Tech School near Pelham Alabama

Pelham Alabama plumber fixing kitchen sink faucetThe initial step to becoming a plumbing tradesman or contractor is enrolling in a plumbing trade school near Pelham AL. But with numerous vocational schools to choose from, just how do you tackle making sure that you enroll in the right one? Particularly since there are so many variables to evaluate. For instance, some prospective students will begin by searching for schools that are nearby their home. After they have located several that are within driving range, they will select the one with the most affordable tuition. Even though cost and location are of importance, they are not the sole things that need to be examined. Also important are the reputations of the schools, their accreditation, in addition to their job placement and graduation rates. These and other 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 to begin with, let's talk a little bit about becoming a plumber and the instructional options that are offered.

What is 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 Pelham AL plumber will typically advance through three phases during their professional career.

  • Apprentice. The majority of Pelham 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 Pelham AL is to enroll in a plumbing technology program that will provide the comprehensive quality training needed to embark on this challenging career.

Plumber Certificate and Degree Programs

There are several educational options available near Pelham 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.

Questions to Ask Plumber Vocational Schools

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When you have made a decision to obtain a diploma, certificate or degree, you can start to refine your training options. Since there are numerous plumbing vocational and trade schools in the Pelham AL area, it's important to have a checklist of qualifications that each program must satisfy. The initial 2 that we talked about were location and tuition expense. And while both qualifiers may be critical when making your selection, there are additional variables that must be considered as well. Below is a checklist of those added qualifiers that you will need to assess prior to selecting a plumber tech school.

Is the Plumbing School Accredited?  Many plumbing vocational programs have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They can acquire Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, for instance electrical technology. Verify that the Pelham AL school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping make certain that you get a quality education, it can help in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently unavailable for non-accredited schools. Furthermore, some states require that the plumbing training course be accredited for it 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 considering 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 check to ensure 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 Pelham 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 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 might signify that students were dissatisfied with the program and quit. It may also suggest that the teachers were not competent to train the students. It's similarly imperative that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive list of graduates, which may result in 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 an excellent reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of contacts to assist students secure apprenticeships or jobs in the Pelham AL area.

Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored?  Many plumber trade programs are taught together with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating trade and technical schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of plumbing businesses or trade unions. Check if the schools you are comparing have working partnerships with local Pelham AL plumbers or plumbing companies. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by furnishing practical training, but it also supplies employment opportunities and helps to form relationships in the regional plumbing professional community.

Are there Modern Facilities?  Make sure 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, talk to the master plumber you are working with regarding what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Pelham AL plumbing company if they can provide some suggestions.

Where is the School Located?  Unless you are willing to move, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Pelham AL home. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there may be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.

Are there Smaller Classes?  It's desirable that you get as much individualized instruction as possible, which can be difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a couple of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and experience the interaction between instructors and students. Talk with some of the students and get their comments concerning class sizes and instruction. Last, speak to some of the instructors and learn what their level of experience is in Pelham AL and what degrees or certifications they have earned.

Is the Class Schedule Convenient?  Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are evaluating are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Pelham AL, check that the programs you are comparing provide those options. If you can only attend part-time, be sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family responsibilities.

Find Out More About Pelham Plumbing Tech Schools

Choose the Right Pelham Plumber Vocational School

Choosing the best plumber trade school will undoubtedly be the most critical decision you will make to start your new career. As we have discussed in this article, there are several things that you will need to evaluate and compare between the schools you are looking at. It's a prerequisite that any plumber training program that you are reviewing includes a good deal of hands-on instruction. Classes should be small in size and every student should have their personal equipment to train with. Classroom education needs to provide a real-world perspective, and the training program should be current and in-line with industry standards. Programs differ in length and the kind of credential offered, so you will need to decide what length of program and credential will best serve your needs. Each training program offers unique possibilities for certification as well. Perhaps the best approach to research your final list of schools is to check out each campus and speak with the students and faculty. Invest some time to sit in on a few classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the school you decide on is the ideal one for you. With the proper training, effort and commitment, you can become a professional plumber in Pelham AL.