How to Find the Best Plumbing Trade School near Prattville Alabama
The initial step to becoming a plumbing tradesman or contractor is enrolling in a plumbing trade school near Prattville AL. But with numerous technical schools to choose from, just how do you tackle making sure that you enroll in the right one? Especially because there are a number of factors to consider. For example, some students will begin by searching for schools that are nearby their residence. When they have located several that are within commuting range, they will decide on the one with the most affordable tuition. Even though cost and location are significant, they are not the only factors that need to be evaluated. Also critical are the accreditation and reputations of the schools, in addition to their job placement and graduation rates. These and additional qualifiers should influence your final decision when picking a plumber training school. We will discuss that checklist in more detail later in this post. But to begin with, let's talk a little bit about becoming a plumber and the educational 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 Prattville AL plumber will typically advance through three phases during their professional career.
- Apprentice. The majority of Prattville 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 Prattville 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 Prattville 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.
Things to Ask Plumbing Trade Schools
Now that you have decided to earn a diploma, certificate or degree, you can start to narrow down your school options. Since there are so many plumbing vocational and trade schools in the Prattville AL region, it's imperative to have a checklist of criteria that each program must meet. The first two that we discussed were location and tuition expense. And while both qualifiers may be critical when making your decision, there are other factors that need to be considered as well. Following is a checklist of those added qualifiers that you will need to analyze before selecting a plumber vocational school.
Is the Plumbing School Accredited? A large number of plumbing trade 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 an individual program, such as electrical technology. Make certain that the Prattville AL school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping guarantee that you receive a quality education, it may help in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited schools. Furthermore, a number of states require that the plumbing training program be accredited in order to qualify for licensing or certification.
Is the Plumbing School Licensed? In addition to accreditation, an additional way of confirming that a vocational 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 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 Prattville 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 or portion of students who enroll in and complete the course. A low completion rate might suggest that students were disappointed with the program and dropped out. It might also mean that the instructors were not competent 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 result in more contacts for the school to employ for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only confirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of contacts to help grads secure apprenticeships or jobs in the Prattville AL area.
Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored? Many plumber trade programs are taught in conjunction with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating vocational and technical schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of plumbing companies or trade unions. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have working relationships with local Prattville AL plumbers or plumbing specialists. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by furnishing practical training, but it also furnishes job opportunities and helps to build relationships in the area plumbing professional community.
Are there Modern Facilities? Make certain that the school facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are state-of-the-art and what you will be using in the field. 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 Prattville AL plumbing contracting company if they can provide some tips.
Where is the School Located? Unless you are able to move, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Prattville AL home. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there may be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Are there Smaller Classes? It's important that you get as much personalized 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 see how big they are and experience the interaction between students and instructors. Speak to a few of the students and get their feedback relating to class sizes and instruction. Last, talk with some of the instructors and learn what their level of experience is in Prattville AL and what certifications or degrees they hold.
Is the Class Schedule Convenient? Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Prattville AL, confirm that the schools you are looking at provide those options. If you can only attend part-time, be sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Additionally, ask what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Choose the Best Prattville Plumber Trade School
Choosing the ideal plumbing trade school will probably be the most important decision you will make to begin your new career. As we have discussed in this article, there are a number of things that you will need to examine and compare between the training programs you are reviewing. It's a prerequisite that any plumber training program that you are evaluating includes a good deal of hands-on training. Classes need to be small in size and every student should 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. Courses differ in length and the type of credential offered, so you will need to decide what length of program and certificate or degree will best serve your needs. Each program offers unique possibilities for certification also. Perhaps the best way to research your final list of schools is to check out each campus and speak with the students and faculty. Invest some time to monitor a few classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the training program you decide on is the right one for you. With the right training, hard work and commitment, you can become a professional plumber in Prattville AL.