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How to Enroll in the Best Plumbing Technical School near Prichard Alabama

Prichard Alabama plumbing contractor repairing sink faucetThe first step to learning to be a plumbing contractor or tradesman is enrolling in a plumbing trade school near Prichard AL. But with so many vocational schools to choose from, just how do you tackle making sure that you enroll in the best one? Especially because there are a number of factors to consider. For example, some students will begin by searching for schools that are nearby their home. Once they have identified some that are within commuting range, they will select the one with the most affordable tuition. Even though location and cost are of importance, they are not the only factors that need to be considered. Also critical are the accreditation and reputations of the schools, as well as their job placement and graduation rates. These and other qualifications should influence your final judgment when choosing a plumbing trade school. We will address that checklist in more detail later in this article. But to begin with, let's talk a little bit about becoming a plumber and the educational options that are available.

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.

Plumber 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.

Points to Ask Plumbing Tech Schools

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Once you have decided to earn a certificate, diploma or degree, you can begin to focus your school options. Because there are so many plumbing vocational and trade schools in the Prichard AL region, it's imperative to have a checklist of qualifications that each school must meet. The first two that we discussed were location and the cost of tuition. And although both qualifiers may be crucial when making your determination, there are additional factors that must be considered as well. Below is a checklist of those additional qualifiers that you will need to research prior to selecting a plumber vocational school.

Is the Plumbing School Accredited?  A large number of plumbing trade schools have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They may receive Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, for instance electrical technology. Make sure that the Prichard AL school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting agency, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping guarantee that you acquire a superior education, it can help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited programs. Also, a number of states require that the plumbing training program be accredited for it to be approved for certification or licensing.

Is the Plumbing School Licensed?  Along with accreditation, another way of determining if a trade 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 schools you are looking at what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students who enroll in and finish the program. A lower completion rate may suggest that students were dissatisfied with the program and quit. It may also suggest that the teachers were not competent to instruct the students. It's similarly essential that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive directory of alumni, which may mean more contacts for the school to use for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only affirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of contacts to assist grads acquire apprenticeships or employment in the Prichard AL area.

Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored?  A large number of plumber trade programs are taught together with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating trade and technical programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of plumbing contractors or labor unions. Find out if the schools you are comparing have working partnerships with local Prichard AL plumbers or plumbing professionals. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by providing practical training, but it also furnishes employment opportunities and helps to form relationships in the regional plumbing professional community.

Are there Modern Facilities?  Confirm that the campus facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are up-to-date and what you will be working with on the job. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the master plumber you are working with concerning what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Prichard AL plumbing contractor if they can provide some tips.

Where is the School Located?  Unless you are willing to relocate, the school must be within driving 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 increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.

Are there Smaller Classes?  It's important that you get as much individualized training as possible, which can be challenging 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 witness first hand the interaction between students and instructors. Talk to some of the students and get their feedback concerning class sizes and instruction. Last, speak to a few of the teachers and learn 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 schools you are assessing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Prichard AL, check that the programs you are considering offer those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, be sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family issues.

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Pick the Best Prichard Plumbing Trade School

Picking the right plumbing training program will probably be the most critical decision you will make to launch your new trade. As we have discussed in this article, there are several factors that you will need to assess and compare among the training programs you are looking at. It's a must that any plumber training program that you are assessing includes a good deal of hands-on training. Classes should be small in size and each student should have their personal equipment to train with. Classroom instruction should offer a real-world frame of reference, and the course of study should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Training programs vary in length and the type of credential offered, so you will have to decide what length of program and credential will best serve your needs. Every training program offers unique options for certification as well. Probably The ideal means to research your short list of schools is to go to each campus and speak with the faculty and students. Invest some time to sit in on some classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the school you decide on is the right one for you. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, you can become a professional plumber in Prichard AL.