How to Select the Best Plumbing School near Pelham Alabama
The initial step to becoming a plumbing contractor or tradesman is finding a plumbing trade school near Pelham AL. But with so many vocational schools to select from, just how do you go about making sure that you enroll in the ideal one? Particularly since there are a number of variables to evaluate. For instance, some prospective students will commence by looking for schools that are nearby their home. When they have identified a few that are within driving range, they will choose the one with the cheapest tuition. While cost and location are important, they are not the sole things that must be evaluated. Also critical are the reputations of the schools, their accreditation, along with their job placement and graduation rates. These and other qualifiers should help mold your final judgment when choosing a plumber training school. We will cover that checklist in more detail later in this article. But to begin with, let's review a little bit about becoming a plumber and the instructional choices 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 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.
What to Ask Plumber Training Schools
When you have decided to earn a diploma, certificate or degree, you can begin to refine your school options. Considering that there are so many plumbing vocational and trade schools in the Pelham AL area, it's essential to have a checklist of criteria that each program must meet. The initial 2 that we discussed were location and the cost of tuition. And although both qualifiers may be critical when making your determination, there are other variables that need to be considered as well. Below is a checklist of those added qualifiers that you will need to analyze prior to selecting a plumber trade school.
Is the Plumbing School Accredited? Many plumbing technical schools have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They can attain Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, for instance electrical technology. Make sure that the Pelham AL school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting agency, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping guarantee that you get an excellent education, it can help in securing financial aid or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited schools. Furthermore, a number of states mandate that the plumbing training program be accredited in order to be approved for certification or licensing.
Is the Plumbing School Licensed? Along with accreditation, an additional 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’re not sure, 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 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 training programs you are considering what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage or portion of students who enroll in and finish the program. A low completion rate could signify that students were dissatisfied with the program and dropped out. It might also indicate that the instructors were not qualified to train the students. It's also imperative that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader list of alumni, which can result in more contacts for the school to utilize for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only validate that the school has a good reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of contacts to assist graduates acquire apprenticeships or employment in the Pelham AL area.
Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored? Many plumber training programs are taught along with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating vocational and technical programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of plumbing contractors or trade unions. Ask if the schools you are comparing have referring relationships with local Pelham AL plumbers or plumbing professionals. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by furnishing practical training, but it also furnishes employment 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 instructed on are up-to-date and what you will be using on the job. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the master plumber you are working under regarding what you should be looking for. 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 must be within commuting distance of your Pelham AL home. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there may be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Are there Smaller Classes? It's important that you receive as much one-on-one instruction as possible, which can be challenging in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor some of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and witness first hand the interaction between instructors and students. Speak to some of the students and get their opinions regarding class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk to some of the teachers and find out what their level of experience is in Pelham AL and what certifications or degrees they hold.
Is the Class Schedule Convenient? Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Pelham AL, confirm that the schools you are considering provide those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, be sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Additionally, find out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family responsibilities.
Pick the Right Pelham Plumber Training School
Choosing the right plumber training program will undoubtedly be the most critical decision you will make to start your new profession. As we have addressed in this article, there are many factors that you will need to assess and compare between the training programs you are reviewing. It's a must that any plumber training that you are reviewing includes a lot of hands-on training. Classes need to be small in size and each student must have their personal equipment to train with. Classroom instruction needs to provide a real-world perspective, and the training program should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Courses differ in duration and the type of credential provided, so you will have to ascertain what length of program and degree or certificate will best satisfy your needs. Every training program offers different possibilities for certification also. Probably the best way to research your final list of schools is to visit each campus and talk with the students and instructors. Take the time to sit in on a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the training program you choose is the right one for you. With the right training, effort and dedication, you can become a professional plumber in Pelham AL.