How to Enroll in the Right Plumbing Technical School near Prichard Alabama
The first step to learning to be a plumbing tradesman or contractor is locating a plumbing trade school near Prichard AL. But with so many vocational schools to choose from, just how do you approach making sure that you enroll in the best one? Particularly since there are a number of variables to consider. For instance, many prospective students will start by looking for schools that are close to their home. Once they have located some that are within driving range, they will decide on the one with the cheapest tuition. Even though cost and location are significant, they are not the only things that must be examined. Also important are the accreditation and reputations of the schools, along with their job placement and graduation rates. These and additional qualifications should influence your final decision when picking a plumbing trade school. We will cover that checklist in more detail later in this post. But to begin with, let's talk a little bit about becoming a plumber and the training choices that are offered.
Becoming 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.
Questions to Ask Plumbing Technical Schools
When you have made a decision to obtain a certificate, diploma or degree, you can start to focus your training options. Since there are so many plumbing trade and vocational schools in the Prichard AL region, it's imperative to have a checklist of criteria that each program must satisfy. The first two that we discussed were location and the cost of tuition. And even though both qualifiers may be crucial when making your determination, there are other factors that need to be considered also. Below is a checklist of those added qualifications that you will need to research before selecting a plumber trade school.
Is the Plumbing School Accredited? Numerous plumbing trade schools have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They may receive Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, for instance electrical technology. Confirm that the Prichard AL program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping guarantee that you receive a quality education, it may assist in securing financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable for non-accredited programs. Also, a number of states mandate that the plumbing training course be accredited for it to qualify for licensing or certification.
Is the Plumbing School Licensed? Along with accreditation, an additional way of determining if a trade school you’re reiewing 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 schools 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 lower completion rate might signify that students were unhappy with the course and quit. It may also indicate that the instructors were not qualified to train the students. It's also imperative that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader list of alumni, which may mean more contacts for the school to utilize 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 field, but also that it has the network of contacts to help students obtain apprenticeships or jobs in the Prichard AL area.
Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored? Many plumber training programs are taught along with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating vocational and trade schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of plumbing businesses or trade unions. Ask if the schools you are comparing have working relationships with local Prichard AL plumbers or plumbing companies. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding 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 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 presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the master plumber you are working with regarding what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Prichard AL plumbing contractor if they can give you some tips.
Where is the School Located? Unless you can relocate, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Prichard AL home. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there might be higher 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 challenging in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor a few of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and experience the interaction between students and teachers. Speak to some of the students and get their comments regarding class sizes and instruction. Last, talk with some of the teachers 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? Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are flexible enough to fulfill 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 looking at offer those choices. If you can only attend part-time, be sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, check out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family emergencies.
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Pick the Best Prichard Plumber Trade School
Choosing the best plumbing trade school will probably be the most critical decision you will make to start your new career. As we have discussed in this article, there are several things that you will need to evaluate and compare between the schools you are considering. It's a must that any plumbing training that you are considering includes a considerable amount of hands-on training. Classes need to be smaller in size and each student must have their own equipment to train with. Classroom teaching needs to offer a real-world frame of reference, and the curriculum should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Courses differ in duration and the type of credential offered, so you will have to determine what length of program and certificate or degree will best serve your needs. Each program offers unique possibilities for certification as well. Perhaps the best way to research your final list of schools is to go to each campus and speak with the students and faculty. Take the time to monitor some classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the training program you choose is the best one for you. With the right training, effort and commitment, you can become a professional plumber in Prichard AL.