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How to Pick the Right Plumber Technical School near Prichard Alabama

Prichard Alabama plumber fixing kitchen faucetThe first step to learning to be a plumbing contractor or tradesman is finding a plumbing trade school near Prichard AL. But with so many vocational schools to choose from, just how do you undertake making certain that you enroll in the best one? Especially because there are a number of points to evaluate. For example, some students will begin by looking for schools that are nearby their residence. When they have found a few that are within commuting distance, they will choose the one with the cheapest tuition. Although location and cost are of importance, they are not the sole things that need to be evaluated. Also critical are the accreditation and reputations of the schools, along with their job placement and graduation rates. These and additional qualifiers should help mold your ultimate decision when choosing a plumber training school. We will address that checklist in more detail later in this article. But first, let's review a little bit about becoming a plumber and the training choices 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 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.

Plumber Certificate and Degree Programs

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.

Questions to Ask Plumber Tech Schools

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Once you have decided to obtain a diploma, certificate or degree, you can start to refine your school options. Considering that there are so many plumbing tech and trade schools in the Prichard AL area, it's important to have a checklist of qualifications that each program must meet. The first 2 that we discussed were location and tuition expense. And while both qualifiers may be crucial when making your decision, there are other variables that need to be taken into account also. Following is a checklist of those added qualifications that you will need to assess before enrolling in a plumber technical school.

Is the Plumbing School Accredited?  Many plumbing trade programs have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They can receive Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, for example electrical technology. Make certain that the Prichard AL school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting organization, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping guarantee that you obtain an excellent education, it may help in securing financial aid or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited programs. Furthermore, some states require that the plumbing training program be accredited for it to be approved for certification or licensing.

Is the Plumbing School Licensed?  In addition to accreditation, an additional 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 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 considering what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students who enroll in and complete the program. A lower completion rate could suggest that students were unhappy with the course and dropped out. It may also suggest that the instructors were not qualified to instruct the students. It's also essential that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader directory of graduates, 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 validate that the school has an excellent reputation within the trade, but additionally that it has the network of contacts to assist graduates obtain apprenticeships or employment in the Prichard AL area.

Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored?  Numerous plumber vocational programs are taught along with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating technical and vocational programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of plumbing businesses or trade unions. Check if the schools you are comparing have working partnerships with local Prichard AL plumbers or plumbing contractors. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by providing practical training, but it also provides employment opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the area plumbing professional community.

Are there Modern Facilities?  Make sure that the school facilities and the equipment that you will be trained 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 with concerning what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Prichard AL plumbing company if they can provide some tips.

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 enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there can be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.

Are there Smaller Classes?  It's desirable that you get as much individualized instruction as possible, which can be difficult in larger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a few of the classes so that you can see how large they are and experience the interaction between students and teachers. Speak to a few of the students and get their feedback relating to class sizes and instruction. Last, talk with a few of the teachers and find out what their level of experience is in Prichard AL and what degrees or certifications they have earned.

Is the Class Schedule Convenient?  Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are evaluating are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Prichard AL, verify that the programs you are looking at provide those options. If you can only attend part-time, be sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Finally, check out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family issues.

Learn More About Prichard Plumber Training Schools

Choose the Right Prichard Plumbing Vocational School

Selecting the right plumber training program will undoubtedly be the most important decision you will make to launch your new trade. As we have discussed in this article, there are several things that you will need to evaluate and compare between the training programs you are reviewing. It's a necessity that any plumber tech school that you are reviewing includes a good deal of hands-on training. Classes need to be smaller in size and each student should have their personal equipment to train with. Classroom instruction needs to offer a real-world perspective, and the curriculum should be current and conform with industry standards. Courses differ in duration and the type of credential provided, so you will need to ascertain what length of program and credential will best serve your needs. Every training program offers different possibilities for certification also. Perhaps the best way to research your final list of schools is to check out each campus and speak with the teachers and students. Take the time to monitor a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the training program you select is the ideal one for you. With the proper training, hard work and dedication, you can become a professional plumber in Prichard AL.