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How to Pick the Right Plumbing Training School near Prattville Alabama

Prattville Alabama plumbing contractor repairing sink faucetThe initial step to learning to be a plumbing tradesman or contractor is locating a plumbing trade school near Prattville AL. But with so many vocational schools to choose from, just how do you approach making sure that you enroll in the right one? Especially because there are so many points to evaluate. For instance, some potential students will commence by looking for schools that are close to their residence. After they have located some that are within driving range, they will decide on the one with the most affordable tuition. Even though cost and location are important, they are not the only qualifications that need to be examined. Also important are the accreditation and reputations of the schools, along with their graduation and job placement rates. These and other qualifiers should influence your ultimate judgment when picking a plumbing trade 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 training options that are offered.

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.

Plumber Degree and Certificate Options

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.

What to Ask Plumber Training Schools

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Once you have decided to obtain a diploma, certificate or degree, you can start to narrow down your school options. Considering that there are so many plumbing tech and trade schools in the Prattville AL area, it's imperative to have a checklist of qualifications that each program must meet. The first two that we talked about were location and tuition expense. And even though both qualifiers may be crucial when making your decision, there are other variables that need to be taken into account also. Below is a checklist of those additional qualifiers that you will need to research prior to enrolling in a plumber tech school.

Is the Plumbing School Accredited?  Numerous plumbing technical programs have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They can receive Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, such as electrical technology. Make certain that the Prattville AL program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping make certain that you obtain a quality education, it may help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited schools. Additionally, some states mandate that the plumbing training program 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 trade school you’re considering 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 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 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 portion or percentage of students who enroll in and finish the course. A low completion rate may suggest that students were disappointed with the course and quit. It might also signify that the teachers were not qualified to train the students. It's similarly essential that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive list of alumni, which may mean more contacts for the school to utilize 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 trade, but also that it has the network of contacts to assist graduates acquire apprenticeships or jobs in the Prattville AL area.

Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored?  A large number of plumber training programs are taught in conjunction with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating technical and vocational schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of plumbing businesses or trade unions. Check if the schools you are reviewing have working partnerships with local Prattville AL plumbers or plumbing specialists. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by furnishing practical training, but it also supplies employment opportunities and helps to build relationships in the local plumbing professional community.

Are there Modern Facilities?  Make certain that the campus 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 presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the master plumber you are working under concerning what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Prattville AL plumbing contractor if they can provide some pointers.

Where is the School Located?  Unless you can relocate, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Prattville AL home. Remember that if you decide to enroll in 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 individualized training as possible, which can be difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on some of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and teachers. Speak to some of the students and get their comments regarding class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk to some of the teachers and learn what their level of experience is in Prattville AL and what certifications or degrees they have earned.

Is the Class Schedule Convenient?  Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are reviewing are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you are only able to go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Prattville AL, verify that the schools you are considering provide those choices. If you can only attend part-time, be sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family responsibilities.

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Pick the Right Prattville Plumbing Training School

Picking the best plumbing trade school will undoubtedly be the most critical decision you will make to begin your new profession. As we have covered in this article, there are many factors that you will need to evaluate and compare among the training programs you are looking at. It's a must that any plumber training that you are examining includes a good deal of hands-on instruction. Classes should be smaller in size and every student must have their own equipment to train with. Classroom teaching should provide a real-world frame of reference, and the course of study should be current and in-line with industry standards. Programs differ in duration and the type of credential provided, so you will need to ascertain what length of program and certificate or degree will best serve your needs. Each training program provides unique options for certification as well. Perhaps The ideal way to research your short list of schools is to visit each campus and talk with the students and instructors. Take the time to monitor a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the school you pick is the best one for you. With the right training, effort and commitment, you can become a professional plumber in Prattville AL.