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How to Select the Best Plumber Vocational School near Prattville Alabama

Prattville Alabama plumber replacing kitchen faucetThe first step to becoming a plumbing contractor or tradesman is finding a plumbing trade school near Prattville AL. But with so many vocational schools to pick from, just how do you undertake making sure that you enroll in the ideal one? Particularly because there are a number of factors to evaluate. For example, some prospective students will begin by searching for schools that are close to their residence. Once they have identified several that are within commuting distance, they will select the one with the cheapest tuition. Even though location and cost are of importance, they are not the only factors that need to be evaluated. Also critical are the accreditation and reputations of the schools, as well as their graduation and job placement rates. These and other qualifications should influence your final decision when choosing a plumber training school. We will talk about that checklist in more detail later in this post. But first, let's talk a little bit about becoming a plumber and the training options that are available.

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 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.

Topics to Ask Plumbing Tech Schools

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Now that you have made a decision to earn a certificate, diploma or degree, you can start to focus your school options. Considering that there are so many plumbing trade and vocational schools in the Prattville AL region, it's important to have a checklist of qualifications that each school must satisfy. The initial 2 that we mentioned were location and the cost of tuition. And even though both qualifiers may be critical when making your determination, there are other factors that need to be considered as well. Following is a checklist of those added qualifications that you will need to analyze before selecting a plumber vocational school.

Is the Plumbing School Accredited?  A large number of plumbing technical schools have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They may attain Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, such as electrical technology. Confirm that the Prattville AL program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping ensure that you receive a superior education, it may help in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable for non-accredited programs. Also, a number of states mandate that the plumbing training program be accredited in order 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 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’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 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 complete the program. A low completion rate could signify that students were unhappy with the program and quit. It could also indicate 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 broader list of alumni, which may result in more contacts for the school to utilize for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only affirm that the school has a good reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of contacts to assist grads acquire apprenticeships or employment in the Prattville AL area.

Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored?  A large number of plumber vocational programs are taught together with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating trade and technical schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of plumbing contractors or labor unions. Ask if the schools you are considering have referring relationships with local Prattville AL plumbers or plumbing contractors. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by providing hands-on training, but it also supplies job opportunities and helps to form relationships in the regional plumbing professional community.

Are there Modern Facilities?  Make certain that the campus facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are up-to-date and what you will be working with in the field. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the master plumber you are working under concerning what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Prattville AL plumbing contracting company if they can give you some pointers.

Where is the School Located?  Unless you are able to relocate, the school must be within driving 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 higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.

Are there Smaller Classes?  It's important that you receive as much individualized training as possible, which can be difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a few of the classes so that you can see how big they are and witness first hand the interaction between teachers and students. Talk with a few of the students and get their feedback regarding class sizes and instruction. Last, speak to some of the teachers and find out 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 evaluating are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Prattville AL, check that the programs you are comparing offer those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, be sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family issues.

Learn More About Prattville Plumber Trade Schools

Pick the Right Prattville Plumbing Training School

Picking the ideal plumber training program will probably be the most critical decision you will make to begin your new profession. As we have discussed in this article, there are several things that you will need to assess and compare between the training programs you are considering. It's a necessity that any plumber tech school that you are examining includes a lot of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be smaller in size and each student must have their own equipment to train with. Classroom instruction needs to offer a real-world frame of reference, and the training program should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Courses vary in duration and the kind of credential provided, so you will need to determine what length of program and certificate or degree will best satisfy your needs. Every program provides different options for certification as well. Probably the best means to research your final list of schools is to go to each campus and speak with the students and instructors. Invest some time to sit in on a few classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the school you pick is the ideal one for you. With the right training, effort and dedication, you can become a professional plumber in Prattville AL.