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How to Pick the Right Plumber School near Prichard Alabama

Prichard Alabama plumber replacing kitchen faucetThe initial step to becoming a plumbing contractor or tradesman is enrolling in a plumbing trade school near Prichard AL. But with so many technical schools to select from, just how do you go about making sure that you enroll in the right one? Especially since there are a number of points to examine. For instance, many prospective students will commence by looking for schools that are nearby their home. When they have located some that are within commuting distance, they will pick the one with the least expensive tuition. While cost and location are significant, they are not the sole things that must be considered. Also critical are the reputations of the schools, their accreditation, as well as their graduation and job placement rates. These and other qualifiers should help mold your ultimate judgment when picking a plumbing trade school. We will talk about that checklist in greater detail later in this post. But to begin with, let's talk a little bit about becoming a plumber and the instructional choices that are offered.

Becoming 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 Options

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 Trade Schools

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When you have made a decision to obtain a certificate, diploma or degree, you can begin to focus your training options. Since there are so many 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 initial two that we discussed were location and tuition expense. And even though both qualifiers may be critical when making your decision, there are other variables that must be taken into account also. Below is a checklist of those added qualifications that you will need to analyze prior to enrolling in a plumber tech school.

Is the Plumbing School Accredited?  Numerous plumbing technical programs 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 example electrical technology. Make sure that the Prichard AL program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting organization, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping make certain that you get a quality education, it can help in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases not available for non-accredited programs. Furthermore, a number of states require that the plumbing training course be accredited in order to qualify for licensing or certification.

Is the Plumbing School Licensed?  In addition to accreditation, an additional way of determining if a vocational school you’re considering 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’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 schools you are looking at what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and finish the program. A low completion rate may suggest that students were disappointed with the course and dropped out. It might also indicate that the teachers were not competent to train the students. It's also essential that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader list of graduates, which may result in more contacts for the school to use 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 industry, but also that it has the network of contacts to assist graduates acquire apprenticeships or employment in the Prichard AL area.

Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored?  Many plumber technical programs are taught together with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating trade and technical schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of plumbing companies or labor unions. Check if the schools you are reviewing have referring partnerships with local Prichard AL plumbers or plumbing companies. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by supplying hands-on training, but it also supplies 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 trained on are up-to-date and what you will be using in the field. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the master plumber you are working under concerning what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Prichard AL plumbing contracting company if they can provide some suggestions.

Where is the School Located?  Unless you are willing to relocate, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Prichard AL home. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there can be increased tuition charges compared to in-state residents.

Are there Smaller Classes?  It's important that you get as much personalized training as possible, which can be difficult in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor a couple of the classes so that you can see how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and instructors. Speak to a few of the students and get their feedback concerning class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk to some 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?  Confirm 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, verify that the programs you are reviewing provide those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Finally, find out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family emergencies.

Learn More About Prichard Plumber Trade Schools

Pick the Right Prichard Plumber Vocational School

Choosing the ideal plumbing training program will undoubtedly be the most critical decision you will make to launch your new career. As we have covered in this article, there are many factors that you will need to assess and compare among the training programs you are looking at. It's a must that any plumbing training that you are evaluating includes a lot of hands-on training. Classes should be smaller in size and every student must have their own equipment to train with. Classroom teaching should offer a real-world frame of reference, and the curriculum should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Courses vary in length and the kind of credential offered, so you will have to ascertain what length of program and certificate or degree will best satisfy your needs. Every training program offers unique options for certification also. Probably the best approach to research your short list of schools is to go to each campus and talk with the students and instructors. Invest some time to attend some classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the program you decide on is the right one for you. With the proper training, effort and commitment, you can become a professional plumber in Prichard AL.