How to Select the Right Plumber Training School near Pelham Alabama
The first step to becoming a plumbing contractor or tradesman is finding a plumbing trade school near Pelham AL. But with numerous technical schools to select from, just how do you go about making sure that you enroll in the right one? Particularly since there are so many points to consider. For instance, many potential students will begin by looking for schools that are nearby their residence. When they have identified a few that are within commuting range, they will select the one with the least expensive tuition. Although cost and location are significant, they are not the sole qualifications that should be examined. Also critical are the reputations of the schools, their accreditation, as well as their job placement and graduation rates. These and other qualifications should help mold your ultimate judgment when picking a plumber training school. We will address 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 educational options that are accessible.
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 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 Degree and Certificate ProgramsThere 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.
Points to Ask Plumber Vocational Schools
Now that you have made a decision to earn a diploma, certificate or degree, you can start to refine your school options. Because there are so many plumbing trade and vocational schools in the Pelham AL region, it's essential to have a checklist of qualifications that each school must satisfy. The first two that we mentioned were location and the cost of tuition. And although both qualifiers may be important when making your determination, there are other factors that must be taken into account as well. Below is a checklist of those additional qualifications that you will need to analyze before choosing a plumber vocational school.
Is the Plumbing School Accredited? Many plumbing technical schools have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They can earn Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, for example electrical technology. Verify that the Pelham AL program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting organization, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping guarantee that you obtain an excellent education, it can assist in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable 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? In addition to accreditation, another way of determining if a vocational school you’re considering is reputable is by making sure that it’s properly licensed. Licensing is typically regulated and controlled by state agencies, such as the Alabama Department of Education. If you don’t know, ask the school which state agency is responsible for 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 reviewing what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and complete the program. A lower completion rate may suggest that students were dissatisfied with the program and dropped out. It could also suggest that the teachers were not qualified to train the students. It's similarly important that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive directory of graduates, which may 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 industry, but additionally that it has the network of contacts to help grads secure apprenticeships or jobs in the Pelham AL area.
Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored? Most plumber technical programs are taught together with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating trade and technical schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of plumbing contractors or labor unions. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have referring partnerships with local Pelham AL plumbers or plumbing professionals. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by providing practical training, but it also provides employment opportunities and helps to build relationships in the area plumbing professional community.
Are there Modern Facilities? Make certain that the campus facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are up-to-date and what you will be working with on the job. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the master plumber you are working with concerning what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Pelham AL plumbing contracting company if they can give you some suggestions.
Where is the School Located? Unless you are able to relocate, the school must be within commuting distance of your Pelham AL home. Take note that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides the added moving costs there may be increased tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Are there Smaller Classes? It's desirable that you get as much individualized instruction as possible, which can be challenging in bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a few of the classes so that you can see how big they are and experience the interaction between teachers and students. Talk to a few of the students and get their comments relating to class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak to some of the instructors and learn what their level of experience is in Pelham AL and what certifications or degrees they hold.
Is the Class Schedule Convenient? Make sure that the class schedules for the schools you are reviewing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Pelham AL, verify that the schools you are reviewing provide those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Finally, find out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family issues.
Pick the Right Pelham Plumber Vocational School
Selecting the best plumber training program will undoubtedly be the most critical decision you will make to launch your new profession. As we have covered in this article, there are many factors that you will need to evaluate and compare among the schools you are looking at. It's a necessity that any plumbing tech school that you are reviewing includes a good deal of hands-on training. Classes need to be smaller in size and every student must have their personal equipment to train with. Classroom education needs to provide a real-world frame of reference, and the course of study should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Programs differ in length and the type of credential provided, so you will need to ascertain what length of program and degree or certificate will best fulfill your needs. Every training program provides different options for certification as well. Perhaps the best approach to research your short list of schools is to visit each campus and speak with the teachers and students. Take the time to attend some classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the program you choose is the ideal one for you. With the right training, hard work and commitment, you can become a professional plumber in Pelham AL.