How to Enroll in the Right Plumbing School near Prichard Alabama
The initial step to learning to be a plumbing contractor or tradesman is enrolling in a plumbing trade school near Prichard AL. But with so many technical schools to pick from, just how do you approach making sure that you enroll in the right one? Particularly because there are a number of points to evaluate. For instance, some potential students will start by looking for schools that are nearby their home. Once they have identified some that are within driving distance, they will select the one with the cheapest tuition. Although location and cost are of importance, they are not the sole factors that must be considered. Also critical are the accreditation and reputations of the schools, as well as their graduation and job placement rates. These and additional qualifications should help mold your final decision when choosing a plumbing trade school. We will address that checklist in more detail later in this post. But to begin with, 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 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 ProgramsThere 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.
Topics to Ask Plumbing Vocational Schools
Now that you have made a decision to obtain a diploma, certificate or degree, you can begin to focus your training 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 program must satisfy. The first two that we mentioned were location and the cost of tuition. And while both qualifiers may be crucial when making your decision, there are additional factors that must be considered also. Following is a checklist of those additional qualifiers that you will need to analyze before selecting a plumber technical school.
Is the Plumbing School Accredited? A large number of plumbing trade programs have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They can acquire Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, such as electrical technology. Confirm that the Prichard AL school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting agency, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping make certain that you receive an excellent education, it can assist in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are often unavailable for non-accredited schools. Additionally, a number of states mandate that the plumbing training course be accredited for it to be approved for certification or licensing.
Is the Plumbing School Licensed? Along with accreditation, an additional way of confirming that a trade school you’re considering is reputable is by making sure that it’s properly licensed. Licensing is typically 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 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 program. A low completion rate could suggest that students were dissatisfied with the program and quit. It could also mean that the teachers were not competent to instruct the students. It's similarly imperative that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive list of alumni, which can produce more contacts for the school to utilize for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only validate that the school has an excellent reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of contacts to assist graduates secure apprenticeships or employment in the Prichard AL area.
Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored? A large number of plumber training programs are taught together with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating trade and vocational programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of plumbing businesses or labor unions. Find out if the schools you are considering have referring partnerships with local Prichard AL plumbers or plumbing companies. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by providing hands-on training, but it also furnishes job opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the area plumbing professional community.
Are there Modern Facilities? Confirm that the school facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are state-of-the-art and what you will be using in the field. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the master plumber you are working with regarding what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Prichard AL plumbing contractor if they can give you some suggestions.
Where is the School Located? Unless you can move, the school must be within commuting distance of your Prichard AL home. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to 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 one-on-one 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 large they are and witness first hand the interaction between teachers and students. Talk with a few of the students and get their comments 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 certifications or degrees they have earned.
Is the Class Schedule Convenient? Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are evaluating are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you are only able to go to classes at night or on weekends near Prichard AL, check that the programs you are considering provide those options. If you can only attend part-time, make certain 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 responsibilities.
Choose the Right Prichard Plumber Training School
Picking the right plumbing training program will probably be the most important decision you will make to launch your new profession. As we have addressed in this article, there are a number of things that you will need to assess and compare between the training programs you are looking at. It's a prerequisite that any plumber tech school that you are evaluating includes a lot of hands-on training. Classes should be small in size and each student must have their personal equipment to train with. Classroom teaching should offer a real-world context, and the course of study should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Programs vary in duration and the kind of credential provided, so you will have to decide what length of program and credential will best satisfy your needs. Every training program provides different possibilities for certification also. Perhaps the best means to research your final list of schools is to go to each campus and speak with the students and faculty. Invest some time to sit in on a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the training program you decide on is the right one for you. With the right training, effort and commitment, you can become a professional plumber in Prichard AL.