How to Pick the Right Plumbing Course near Pelham Alabama
The first step to learning to be a plumbing contractor or tradesman is finding a plumbing trade school near Pelham AL. But with numerous vocational schools to pick from, just how do you approach making sure that you enroll in the right one? Particularly because there are so many factors to examine. For example, some students will commence by looking for schools that are nearby their residence. When they have located several that are within commuting distance, they will pick the one with the most affordable tuition. Even though cost and location are important, they are not the only qualifications that must be evaluated. Also critical are the reputations of the schools, their accreditation, along with their job placement and graduation rates. These and additional qualifications should contribute toward your ultimate judgment when choosing a plumber training school. We will discuss that checklist in greater detail later in this article. But first, let's review 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.
Plumbing Degree and Certificate OptionsThere 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 Training Schools
When you have made a decision to obtain a certificate, diploma or degree, you can begin to focus your school options. Considering that there are numerous plumbing vocational and trade schools in the Pelham AL region, it's important to have a checklist of criteria that each program must satisfy. The first 2 that we discussed were location and the cost of tuition. And although both qualifiers may be critical when making your determination, there are additional variables that must be considered also. Following is a checklist of those added qualifiers that you will need to analyze prior to selecting a plumber vocational school.
Is the Plumbing School Accredited? Many plumbing vocational programs have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They may receive Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, for example 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 ensure that you receive a quality education, it can help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited schools. Additionally, some states require that the plumbing training course be accredited in order to qualify for certification or licensing.
Is the Plumbing School Licensed? Along with accreditation, another way of determining if a trade school you’re reiewing 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 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 portion or percentage of students who enroll in and finish the program. A lower completion rate could signify that students were dissatisfied with the program and quit. It might also mean that the instructors were not qualified to train the students. It's similarly imperative that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader list of graduates, which can produce more contacts for the school to employ for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only affirm that the school has a good reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of contacts to assist grads secure apprenticeships or employment 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 technical and vocational programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of plumbing contractors or labor unions. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have referring relationships with local Pelham AL plumbers or plumbing companies. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by furnishing hands-on training, but it also furnishes employment opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the area plumbing professional community.
Are there Modern Facilities? Confirm that the school facilities and the tools that you will be trained on are state-of-the-art and what you will be working with on the job. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the master plumber you are working under regarding what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Pelham AL plumbing company if they can provide some pointers.
Where is the School Located? Unless you can move, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Pelham AL residence. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added moving costs there can be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Are there Smaller Classes? It's important that you receive as much personalized instruction as possible, which can be difficult in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor a couple of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and experience the interaction between teachers and students. Talk with some of the students and get their comments relating to class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk to some of the teachers and learn what their level of experience is in Pelham AL and what degrees or certifications they have earned.
Is the Class Schedule Convenient? Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are assessing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you are only able to go to classes at night or on weekends near Pelham AL, check that the programs you are reviewing offer those options. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family issues.
Pick the Best Pelham Plumbing Trade School
Picking the right plumber trade school will probably be the most important decision you will make to begin your new trade. As we have discussed in this article, there are a number of factors that you will need to evaluate and compare among the training programs you are looking at. It's a prerequisite that any plumbing training program that you are evaluating includes a good deal of hands-on training. Classes need to be small in size and every student must have their own equipment to train with. Classroom instruction should offer a real-world frame of reference, and the curriculum should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Programs vary in duration and the kind of credential provided, so you will have to decide what length of program and certificate or degree will best fulfill your needs. Each program provides unique options for certification also. Probably the best approach to research your final list of schools is to go to each campus and talk with the faculty and students. Invest some time to monitor a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the program you pick is the right one for you. With the proper training, effort and commitment, you can become a professional plumber in Pelham AL.