How to Select the Best Plumbing School near Prattville Alabama
The initial step to becoming a plumbing contractor or tradesman is finding a plumbing trade school near Prattville AL. But with so many technical schools to select from, just how do you approach making sure that you enroll in the best one? Especially since there are so many factors to examine. For instance, some potential students will commence by looking for schools that are close to their home. Once they have located several that are within driving distance, they will choose the one with the cheapest tuition. Even though location and cost are significant, they are not the only factors that must be examined. Also important are the accreditation and reputations of the schools, as well as their graduation and job placement rates. These and additional qualifications should influence your final judgment when picking a plumber trade school. We will address that checklist in greater detail later in this post. But first, let's review a little bit about becoming a plumber and the training options that are offered.
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.
Plumbing Certificate and Degree 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.
Topics to Ask Plumbing Vocational Schools
When you have decided to obtain a certificate, diploma or degree, you can start to focus your school options. Since there are so many plumbing tech and trade schools in the Prattville AL area, it's important to have a checklist of qualifications that each school must satisfy. The first 2 that we mentioned were location and the cost of tuition. And while both qualifiers may be critical when making your decision, there are other factors that must be considered as well. Following is a checklist of those additional qualifications that you will need to assess before enrolling in a plumber tech 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 involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, for instance electrical technology. Make certain that the Prattville AL program and school 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 ensure that you receive a superior education, it may help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are frequently unavailable for non-accredited programs. Also, many states require that the plumbing training program be accredited in order to be approved for licensing or certification.
Is the Plumbing School Licensed? Along with accreditation, another way of confirming that a trade school you’re reiewing is reputable is by checking that it’s properly licensed. Licensing is usually 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 looking at what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and finish the program. A lower completion rate may signify that students were disappointed with the program and quit. It might also suggest that the instructors were not qualified 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 more extensive directory of graduates, which can result in more contacts for the school to use for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only confirm that the school has a good reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of contacts to help graduates obtain apprenticeships or jobs in the Prattville AL area.
Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored? Most plumber training programs are taught together with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating vocational and trade schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of plumbing contractors or trade unions. Check if the schools you are comparing have referring relationships with local Prattville AL plumbers or plumbing companies. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by providing hands-on training, but it also provides job opportunities and helps to form 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 up-to-date and what you will be using on the job. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the master plumber you are working under concerning 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 residence. Take note that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there can be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Are there Smaller Classes? It's important that you receive as much individualized instruction as possible, which can be difficult in larger classes. Ask if you can sit in on some of the classes so that you can see how big they are and witness first hand the interaction between instructors and students. Speak to some of the students and get their feedback concerning class sizes and instruction. Last, speak with a few of the teachers and find out what their level of experience is in Prattville AL and what certifications or degrees they hold.
Is the Class Schedule Convenient? Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Prattville AL, check that the programs you are reviewing provide those choices. If you can only attend part-time, be sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Finally, find out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Best Prattville Plumbing Vocational School
Picking the right plumbing training program will undoubtedly be the most critical decision you will make to start your new career. As we have covered in this article, there are a number of factors that you will need to assess and compare among the training programs you are reviewing. It's a necessity that any plumber tech school that you are considering includes a good deal of hands-on training. Classes need to be smaller in size and every student must have their personal equipment to train with. Classroom instruction needs to offer a real-world context, and the training program should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Courses vary in duration and the kind of credential offered, so you will need to determine what length of program and certificate or degree will best fulfill your needs. Each program provides unique possibilities for certification as well. Probably the best approach to research your final list of schools is to go to each campus and speak with the students and instructors. Take the time to monitor some classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the school you pick is the right one for you. With the proper training, effort and dedication, you can become a professional plumber in Prattville AL.