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How to Pick the Best Plumbing Vocational School near Prichard Alabama

Prichard Alabama plumber fixing kitchen sink faucetThe first step to becoming a plumbing contractor or tradesman is finding a plumbing trade school near Prichard AL. But with so many vocational schools to select from, just how do you go about making sure that you enroll in the ideal one? Particularly since there are a number of variables to examine. For instance, many students will commence by searching for schools that are close to their residence. After they have identified some that are within commuting distance, they will decide on the one with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are important, they are not the sole qualifications that need to be evaluated. Also important are the accreditation and reputations of the schools, along with their job placement and graduation rates. These and other qualifications should contribute toward your final judgment when choosing a plumbing training school. We will address that checklist in greater detail later in this article. But to begin with, let's talk a little bit about becoming a plumber and the training options 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 Degree and Certificate 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.

Things to Ask Plumber Training Schools

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When you have made a decision to earn a diploma, certificate or degree, you can start to narrow down your school options. Because there are numerous plumbing trade and vocational schools in the Prichard AL area, it's imperative to have a checklist of qualifications that each school must meet. The first two that we talked about were location and the cost of tuition. And even though both qualifiers may be crucial when making your decision, there are other variables that must be taken into account also. Following is a checklist of those additional qualifications that you will need to analyze prior to enrolling in a plumber tech school.

Is the Plumbing School Accredited?  A large number of plumbing vocational schools have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They can receive Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, for instance electrical technology. Make certain that the Prichard AL school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping guarantee that you obtain an excellent education, it can assist in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable for non-accredited schools. Also, some states mandate that the plumbing training course be accredited in order to qualify for licensing or certification.

Is the Plumbing School Licensed?  In addition to accreditation, another way of confirming that a vocational school you’re reiewing is reputable is by checking that it’s properly licensed.  Licensing is typically 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 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 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 looking at what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage or portion of students who enroll in and finish the program. A low completion rate might signify that students were dissatisfied with the program and dropped out. It might 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 more extensive list of graduates, which may mean more contacts for the school to employ for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only validate that the school has a good reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of contacts to assist students secure apprenticeships or employment in the Prichard AL area.

Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored?  Most plumber technical programs are taught in conjunction with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating vocational and technical schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of plumbing companies or labor unions. Find out if the schools you are considering have referring relationships with local Prichard AL plumbers or plumbing specialists. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by furnishing hands-on training, but it also provides job opportunities and helps to build relationships in the local plumbing professional community.

Are there Modern Facilities?  Confirm that the campus facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are state-of-the-art and what you will be using on the job. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the master plumber you are working with concerning what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Prichard AL plumbing contractor if they can give you some pointers.

Where is the School Located?  Unless you are willing to move, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Prichard AL home. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added moving costs there might be increased tuition charges compared to in-state residents.

Are there Smaller Classes?  It's desirable that you receive as much individualized training as possible, which can be difficult in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor 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 a few of the students and get their opinions regarding class sizes and instruction. Last, talk to a few of the instructors and learn what their level of experience is in Prichard AL and what certifications or degrees they have earned.

Is the Class Schedule Convenient?  Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are assessing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you are only able to attend classes at night or on weekends near Prichard AL, check that the schools you are reviewing offer those choices. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Finally, ask what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family emergencies.

Find Out More About Prichard Plumbing Trade Schools

Enroll in the Right Prichard Plumber Vocational School

Selecting the right plumber trade school will probably be the most critical decision you will make to launch your new career. As we have discussed in this article, there are several factors that you will need to assess and compare between the schools you are reviewing. It's a must that any plumbing training that you are assessing includes a good deal of hands-on instruction. Classes should be smaller in size and every student must have their personal equipment to train with. Classroom teaching needs to provide a real-world perspective, and the course of study should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Courses differ in length and the type of credential provided, so you will have to ascertain what length of program and certificate or degree will best satisfy your needs. Every training program provides different possibilities for certification as well. Perhaps The ideal approach to research your short list of schools is to visit each campus and talk with the faculty and students. Invest some time to attend some classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the program you choose is the right one for you. With the proper training, hard work and dedication, you can become a professional plumber in Prichard AL.