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How to Pick the Best Plumbing Tech School near Princeton Alabama

Princeton Alabama plumbing contractor fixing kitchen faucetThe initial step to becoming a plumbing contractor or tradesman is locating a plumbing trade school near Princeton AL. But with numerous technical schools to pick from, just how do you go about making sure that you enroll in the ideal one? Especially since there are so many factors to consider. For instance, many prospective students will commence by looking for schools that are nearby their residence. Once they have found a few that are within driving distance, they will pick the one with the least expensive tuition. While cost and location are significant, they are not the sole factors that should be considered. Also important are the accreditation and reputations of the schools, in addition to their graduation and job placement rates. These and other qualifiers should help mold your ultimate decision when selecting a plumbing training school. We will address that checklist in more detail later in this article. But first, let's review a little bit about becoming a plumber and the instructional choices that are available.

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 Princeton AL plumber will typically advance through three phases during their professional career.

  • Apprentice. The majority of Princeton 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 Princeton 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 Options

There are several educational options available near Princeton 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.

What to Ask Plumbing Technical Schools

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Now that you have made a decision to obtain a diploma, certificate or degree, you can begin to focus your school options. Since there are numerous plumbing trade and vocational schools in the Princeton AL region, it's imperative to have a checklist of criteria that each school 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 selection, there are additional factors that must be considered as well. Below is a checklist of those added qualifiers that you will need to analyze prior to selecting a plumber technical school.

Is the Plumbing School Accredited?  A large number of plumbing technical programs have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They can earn Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, for example electrical technology. Confirm that the Princeton AL school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping guarantee that you acquire an excellent education, it can assist in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are often unavailable for non-accredited programs. Additionally, many states mandate that the plumbing training program be accredited for it to qualify for certification or licensing.

Is the Plumbing School Licensed?  In addition to accreditation, another way of determining if a trade school you’re reiewing is reputable is by making sure that it’s properly licensed.  Licensing is usually controlled and regulated 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 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 Princeton 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 of students who enroll in and complete the course. A lower completion rate might signify that students were dissatisfied with the course and quit. It could also signify that the teachers were not qualified to train the students. It's also imperative that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader directory of graduates, which may mean 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 trade, but also that it has the network of contacts to help graduates obtain apprenticeships or jobs in the Princeton 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 technical schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of plumbing businesses or labor unions. Ask if the schools you are comparing have working partnerships with local Princeton AL plumbers or plumbing contractors. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by providing practical training, but it also provides employment opportunities and helps to form relationships in the regional plumbing professional community.

Are there Modern Facilities?  Make sure that the campus facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are up-to-date and what you will be working with in the field. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the master plumber you are working under regarding what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Princeton AL plumbing company if they can give you some tips.

Where is the School Located?  Unless you are willing to relocate, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Princeton AL residence. Take note that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there may be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.

Are there Smaller Classes?  It's important that you receive as much individualized training as possible, which can be challenging in bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on some of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and witness first hand the interaction between teachers and students. Speak to several of the students and get their feedback concerning class sizes and instruction. Last, talk to some of the instructors and learn what their level of experience is in Princeton AL and what certifications or degrees 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 Princeton AL, confirm that the schools you are reviewing provide those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family issues.

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Pick the Right Princeton Plumber Vocational School

Choosing the right plumbing trade school will undoubtedly be the most critical decision you will make to launch your new career. As we have covered in this article, there are several things that you will need to examine and compare among the training programs you are considering. It's a prerequisite that any plumber tech school that you are assessing includes a good deal of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be small in size and each student should have their personal equipment to train with. Classroom instruction needs to provide a real-world perspective, and the course of study should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Training programs vary in duration and the type of credential offered, so you will have to determine what length of program and certificate or degree will best satisfy your needs. Each program provides different options for certification also. Probably The ideal approach to research your final list of schools is to visit each campus and talk with the students and instructors. Take the time to attend some classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the program you choose is the ideal one for you. With the proper training, effort and dedication, you can become a professional plumber in Princeton AL.