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How to Enroll in the Best Plumber School near Prichard Alabama

Prichard Alabama plumbing contractor repairing sink faucetThe first step to becoming a plumbing contractor or tradesman is finding a plumbing trade school near Prichard AL. But with so many technical schools to select from, just how do you go about making sure that you enroll in the ideal one? Especially because there are a number of variables to evaluate. For example, many prospective students will begin by searching for schools that are close to their home. After they have identified a few that are within commuting range, they will select the one with the most affordable tuition. While cost and location are of importance, they are not the only things that should be considered. Also important are the reputations of the schools, their accreditation, as well as their job placement and graduation rates. These and other qualifiers should influence your final judgment when choosing a plumbing 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 educational choices that are offered.

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 Prichard AL plumber will typically advance through three phases during their professional career.

  • Apprentice. The majority of Prichard 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 Prichard 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 Options

There are several educational options available near Prichard 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 Trade Schools

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Once you have decided to earn a certificate, diploma or degree, you can begin to refine your school options. Because there are numerous plumbing vocational and trade schools in the Prichard AL area, it's essential to have a checklist of criteria that each program must satisfy. The initial 2 that we mentioned were location and tuition expense. And even though both qualifiers may be crucial when making your decision, there are other factors that must be considered also. Following 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 vocational programs have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They may receive Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, for example electrical technology. Make certain that the Prichard AL program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting agency, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping guarantee that you get a superior education, it can help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited schools. Additionally, many states require that the plumbing training program be accredited for it to qualify for licensing or certification.

Is the Plumbing School Licensed?  In addition to accreditation, an additional way of determining if a vocational school you’re considering is reputable is by checking 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 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 Prichard 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 training programs you are reviewing what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage or portion of students who enroll in and finish the course. A low completion rate might indicate that students were unhappy with the program and dropped out. It could also indicate that the instructors were not qualified to train the students. It's also important that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive directory of alumni, which may result in more contacts for the school to employ for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only confirm 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 employment in the Prichard AL area.

Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored?  Most plumber vocational programs are taught along 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 labor unions. Find out if the schools you are comparing have referring relationships with local Prichard AL plumbers or plumbing professionals. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by furnishing hands-on training, but it also supplies job opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the local plumbing professional community.

Are there Modern Facilities?  Make sure that the school facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are state-of-the-art and what you will be working with in the field. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the master plumber you are working under regarding what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Prichard AL plumbing company if they can give you some pointers.

Where is the School Located?  Unless you are able to move, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Prichard AL residence. Take note that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides the added moving costs there may be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.

Are there Smaller Classes?  It's important that you get as much personalized instruction as possible, which can be challenging 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 instructors. Speak to some of the students and get their opinions concerning class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak with a few of the instructors and find out what their level of experience is in Prichard AL and what degrees or certifications they hold.

Is the Class Schedule Convenient?  Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are assessing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Prichard AL, confirm that the programs you are comparing provide those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, be sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Finally, check out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family responsibilities.

Find Out More About Prichard Plumber Tech Schools

Enroll in the Right Prichard Plumber Vocational School

Choosing the right plumbing trade school will probably be the most important decision you will make to start your new trade. 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 prerequisite that any plumber training that you are evaluating includes a lot of hands-on instruction. Classes should be small in size and each student must have their own equipment to train with. Classroom education needs to provide a real-world perspective, and the curriculum should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Training programs vary in duration and the kind of credential provided, so you will need to decide what length of program and credential will best fulfill your needs. Every program provides different possibilities for certification as well. Probably The ideal means to research your final list of schools is to visit each campus and speak with the students and faculty. Invest some time to monitor a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the school you decide on is the ideal one for you. With the right training, effort and dedication, you can become a professional plumber in Prichard AL.