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How to Enroll in the Right Plumbing Vocational School near Prattville Alabama

Prattville Alabama plumber installing kitchen sink faucetThe initial step to becoming a plumbing tradesman or contractor is locating a plumbing trade school near Prattville AL. But with numerous vocational schools to pick from, just how do you approach making sure that you enroll in the ideal one? Particularly since there are a number of factors to consider. For instance, many potential students will begin by searching for schools that are close to their home. After they have identified some that are within commuting range, they will decide on the one with the cheapest tuition. While cost and location are of importance, they are not the only things that must be examined. Also critical are the reputations of the schools, their accreditation, as well as their job placement and graduation rates. These and other qualifications should contribute toward your ultimate judgment when selecting a plumber trade school. We will talk about that checklist in greater detail later in this article. But first, let's talk a little bit about becoming a plumber and the educational choices that are accessible.

What is 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.

Questions to Ask Plumbing Technical Schools

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Once you have made a decision to obtain a diploma, certificate or degree, you can start to refine your training options. Since there are numerous plumbing tech and trade schools in the Prattville AL region, it's important to have a checklist of criteria that each school must satisfy. The initial 2 that we discussed were location and tuition expense. And although both qualifiers may be important when making your decision, there are additional factors that must be taken into account also. Following is a checklist of those additional qualifiers that you will need to research before choosing a plumber tech school.

Is the Plumbing School Accredited?  A large number of plumbing technical schools have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They can attain Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, such as electrical technology. Confirm that the Prattville AL school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping make certain that you acquire an excellent education, it can assist in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited schools. Also, some states mandate that the plumbing training course be accredited in order to be approved for certification or licensing.

Is the Plumbing School Licensed?  In addition to accreditation, another way of determining if a trade school you’re considering is reputable is by making sure that it’s properly licensed.  Licensing is typically controlled and regulated by state agencies, such as the Alabama Department of Education.  If you don’t know, 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 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 program. A lower completion rate could suggest that students were disappointed with the course and dropped out. It might also mean that the teachers were not qualified to train the students. It's also essential that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive list of graduates, which can produce 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 industry, but additionally that it has the network of contacts to assist graduates obtain apprenticeships or jobs in the Prattville AL area.

Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored?  Many plumber trade programs are taught along with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating trade and technical programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of plumbing companies or labor unions. Find out if the schools you are comparing have working partnerships with local Prattville AL plumbers or plumbing specialists. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by providing hands-on training, but it also furnishes job opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the regional plumbing professional community.

Are there Modern Facilities?  Make certain 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 in the field. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the master plumber you are working with regarding what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Prattville AL plumbing contractor if they can give you some pointers.

Where is the School Located?  Unless you are willing to relocate, the school must be within commuting distance of your Prattville AL home. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there may be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.

Are there Smaller Classes?  It's desirable that you receive as much one-on-one training as possible, which can be difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor some of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and experience the interaction between instructors and students. Speak to a few of the students and get their opinions concerning class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak with a few of the teachers and learn what their level of experience is in Prattville AL and what degrees or certifications they hold.

Is the Class Schedule Convenient?  Make sure that the class schedules for the schools you are evaluating are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you are only able to attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Prattville AL, confirm that the schools you are comparing offer those choices. If you can only attend part-time, make certain that the school you select permits 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.

Find Out More About Prattville Plumber Vocational Schools

Enroll in the Right Prattville Plumbing Training School

Choosing the right plumbing training program will probably be the most critical decision you will make to start your new profession. As we have covered in this article, there are several things that you will need to assess and compare between the schools you are reviewing. It's a necessity that any plumbing tech school that you are evaluating includes a considerable amount of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be smaller in size and every student should have their own equipment to train with. Classroom teaching should offer a real-world frame of reference, and the curriculum should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Courses vary in duration and the type of credential offered, so you will need to decide what length of program and degree or certificate will best satisfy your needs. Each training program provides unique possibilities for certification as well. Probably the best approach to research your final list of schools is to check out each campus and talk with the students and instructors. Invest some time to attend a few classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the school you decide on is the ideal one for you. With the proper training, hard work and dedication, you can become a professional plumber in Prattville AL.