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How to Find the Right Plumbing Trade School near Prichard Alabama

Prichard Alabama plumbing contractor installing kitchen faucetThe first step to learning to be a plumbing contractor or tradesman is enrolling in a plumbing trade school near Prichard AL. But with numerous technical schools to select from, just how do you go about making sure that you enroll in the ideal one? Especially because there are so many factors to consider. For example, many potential students will commence by searching for schools that are nearby their residence. Once they have located several that are within commuting range, they will choose the one with the least expensive tuition. Even though location and cost are of importance, they are not the only 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 additional qualifications should influence your final judgment when picking a plumbing trade school. We will discuss that checklist in more detail later in this post. But first, let's talk a little bit about becoming a plumber and the instructional 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.

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.

Questions to Ask Plumber Technical Schools

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When you have made a decision to obtain a certificate, diploma or degree, you can begin to narrow down your training options. Considering that there are numerous plumbing vocational and trade schools in the Prichard AL area, it's essential to have a checklist of criteria that each school must meet. The first two that we discussed were location and the cost of tuition. And even though both qualifiers may be important when making your determination, there are other factors that need to be taken into account as well. Below is a checklist of those added qualifiers that you will need to assess prior to selecting a plumber tech school.

Is the Plumbing School Accredited?  Many plumbing trade programs have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They may acquire Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, such as electrical technology. Make certain that the Prichard AL school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping guarantee that you receive a superior education, it may assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of states mandate that the plumbing training course be accredited in order to qualify for certification or licensing.

Is the Plumbing School Licensed?  Along with accreditation, another way of confirming that a trade school you’re considering is reputable is by making sure that it’s properly licensed.  Licensing is usually regulated and controlled by state agencies, such as the Alabama Department of Education.  If you’re not sure, 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 considering what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and complete the course. A low completion rate may indicate that students were disappointed with the course and quit. It could also signify that the instructors were not competent 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 graduates, which can 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 a good reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of contacts to assist graduates obtain apprenticeships or jobs in the Prichard AL area.

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

Are there Modern Facilities?  Make certain that the school facilities and the tools 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, consult with the master plumber you are working under regarding what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Prichard AL plumbing contractor if they can provide some pointers.

Where is the School Located?  Unless you can move, 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 may be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.

Are there Smaller Classes?  It's desirable that you get as much one-on-one instruction as possible, which can be difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a couple of the classes so that you can see how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between teachers and students. Speak to some of the students and get their comments concerning class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak to a few of the instructors and learn what their level of experience is in Prichard AL and what certifications or degrees they hold.

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 go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Prichard AL, confirm that the programs you are reviewing provide those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Also, check out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family responsibilities.

Learn More About Prichard Plumber Vocational Schools

Enroll in the Best Prichard Plumbing Vocational School

Choosing the ideal plumbing training program will undoubtedly be the most critical decision you will make to begin your new career. As we have covered in this article, there are several factors that you will need to evaluate and compare between the schools you are considering. It's a necessity that any plumber training program that you are assessing includes a good deal of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be small in size and each student must have their own equipment to train with. Classroom instruction should provide a real-world context, and the course of study should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Programs vary in length and the type of credential offered, so you will have to decide what length of program and certificate or degree will best satisfy your needs. Every training program offers unique possibilities for certification as well. Perhaps the best way to research your final list of schools is to check out each campus and speak with the faculty and students. Invest some time to attend some classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the program you select is the ideal one for you. With the right training, effort and dedication, you can become a professional plumber in Prichard AL.