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How to Choose the Best Plumber Trade School near Prattville Alabama

Prattville Alabama plumber fixing kitchen sink faucetThe first step to becoming a plumbing tradesman or contractor is enrolling in a plumbing trade school near Prattville AL. But with so many technical schools to choose from, just how do you go about making certain that you enroll in the right one? Particularly because there are so many points to evaluate. For example, many students will commence by searching for schools that are nearby their residence. Once they have identified a few that are within commuting distance, they will decide on the one with the least expensive tuition. Although location and cost are of importance, they are not the only qualifications that need to be examined. Also critical are the reputations of the schools, their accreditation, as well as their graduation and job placement rates. These and additional qualifications should influence your ultimate decision when choosing a plumber trade school. We will talk about that checklist in more detail later in this post. But first, let's review a little bit about becoming a plumber and the training options that are accessible.

Becoming 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 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.

Plumbing Certificate and Degree Programs

There 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.

Topics to Ask Plumbing Tech Schools

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Now that you have made a decision to obtain a certificate, diploma or degree, you can begin to refine your training options. Considering that there are so many plumbing vocational and trade schools in the Prattville AL area, it's imperative to have a checklist of qualifications that each school must meet. The initial two that we mentioned were location and tuition expense. And while both qualifiers may be critical when making your determination, there are additional factors that need to be considered also. Following is a checklist of those added qualifiers that you will need to research before enrolling in a plumber technical school.

Is the Plumbing School Accredited?  Numerous plumbing technical schools have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They may earn Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on 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 approved accrediting organization, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping make certain that you get an excellent education, it may help in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited programs. Furthermore, some states require that the plumbing training program 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 usually 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 considering what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students who enroll in and finish the program. A low completion rate may indicate that students were disappointed with the course and dropped out. It may also suggest that the instructors were not competent to instruct 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 graduates, which can mean more contacts for the school to utilize 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 trade, but additionally that it has the network of contacts to help students acquire apprenticeships or jobs in the Prattville AL area.

Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored?  Numerous plumber trade programs are taught in conjunction with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating vocational and trade 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 comparing have working partnerships with local Prattville AL plumbers or plumbing professionals. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by furnishing practical training, but it also supplies employment opportunities and helps to build relationships in the area plumbing professional community.

Are there Modern Facilities?  Confirm that the school facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are up-to-date 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. If not, ask a local Prattville AL plumbing contracting company if they can give you some suggestions.

Where is the School Located?  Unless you are willing to move, the school must be within driving distance of your Prattville 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 desirable that you receive 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 witness first hand the interaction between students and teachers. Speak to some of the students and get their opinions 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 degrees or certifications they have earned.

Is the Class Schedule Convenient?  Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are assessing 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 programs you are looking at offer those options. If you can only attend part-time, be sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Additionally, check out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family emergencies.

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Choose the Right Prattville Plumber Vocational School

Picking the right plumbing training program will probably be the most critical decision you will make to begin your new trade. As we have covered in this article, there are a number of factors that you will need to evaluate and compare among the schools you are reviewing. It's a necessity that any plumber tech school that you are examining includes a considerable amount of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be smaller in size and each student should have their own equipment to train with. Classroom education should provide a real-world perspective, and the curriculum should be current and in-line with industry standards. Training programs differ in duration and the type of credential offered, so you will have to determine what length of program and degree or certificate will best fulfill your needs. Each program offers different possibilities for certification as well. Probably The ideal way to research your final list of schools is to go to each campus and speak with the students and faculty. Take the time to attend some classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the program you decide on is the best one for you. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, you can become a professional plumber in Prattville AL.