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How to Choose the Best Plumber School near Princeton Alabama

Princeton Alabama plumber fixing kitchen faucetThe first step to learning to be a plumbing contractor or tradesman is enrolling in a plumbing trade school near Princeton AL. But with so many technical schools to pick from, just how do you go about making certain that you enroll in the best one? Especially because there are so many factors to examine. For instance, some potential students will start by searching for schools that are close to their residence. Once they have identified some that are within driving range, they will select the one with the cheapest tuition. While cost and location are of importance, they are not the only qualifications that should be examined. Also critical are the accreditation and reputations of the schools, in addition to their job placement and graduation rates. These and additional qualifications should help mold your final decision when selecting a plumber training school. We will cover that checklist in greater detail later in this article. But first, let's talk a little bit about becoming a plumber and the training choices that are accessible.

What is a Plumber?

Princeton Alabama plumber repairing water pipe

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 Programs

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.

Questions to Ask Plumber Trade Schools

Princeton Alabama plumber replacing hot water heater

Now that you have made a decision to obtain a certificate, diploma or degree, you can start to focus your training options. Considering that there are so many plumbing tech and trade schools in the Princeton AL region, it's imperative to have a checklist of criteria that each school must meet. The first two that we talked about were location and tuition expense. And although both qualifiers may be critical when making your determination, there are other variables that need to be taken into account also. Following is a checklist of those additional qualifiers that you will need to assess before choosing a plumber tech school.

Is the Plumbing School Accredited?  Many plumbing vocational programs have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They can acquire Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, such as electrical technology. Confirm that the Princeton AL school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping ensure that you obtain an excellent education, it can assist in securing financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. Furthermore, many states mandate that the plumbing training course be accredited for it to be approved 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 usually controlled and regulated by state agencies, such as the Alabama Department of Education.  If you don’t know, 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 considering what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage or portion of students who enroll in and complete the program. A low completion rate could indicate that students were dissatisfied with the program and quit. It might also signify that the teachers were not competent to instruct the students. It's similarly imperative that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader directory of graduates, which can mean more contacts for the school to use for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only validate that the school has a good reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of contacts to help graduates acquire apprenticeships or jobs in the Princeton AL area.

Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored?  Most plumber vocational programs are taught in conjunction with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating vocational and trade schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of plumbing contractors or labor unions. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have working relationships with local Princeton AL plumbers or plumbing contractors. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by providing hands-on training, but it also furnishes employment opportunities and helps to form relationships in the local plumbing professional community.

Are there Modern Facilities?  Make certain that the campus facilities and the tools that you will be instructed on are up-to-date and what you will be using in the field. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the master plumber you are working under concerning what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Princeton 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 Princeton AL residence. Take note that if you decide to enroll in 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 get as much individualized instruction as possible, which can be difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a few of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and experience the interaction between students and teachers. Speak to several of the students and get their feedback relating to class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak with some of the instructors and find out what their level of experience is in Princeton AL and what degrees or certifications they have earned.

Is the Class Schedule Convenient?  Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are evaluating are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you are only able to go to classes at night or on weekends near Princeton AL, confirm that the programs you are considering provide those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family issues.

Find Out More About Princeton Plumbing Tech Schools

Choose the Best Princeton Plumber Training School

Choosing the best plumbing training program will undoubtedly be the most important decision you will make to begin your new trade. As we have addressed in this article, there are a number of factors that you will need to examine and compare between the schools you are considering. It's a must that any plumbing training that you are evaluating includes a good deal of hands-on training. Classes need to be small in size and every student should have their own equipment to train with. Classroom education needs to offer a real-world frame of reference, and the curriculum should be current and conform with industry standards. Training programs differ in duration and the type of credential offered, so you will have to ascertain what length of program and degree or certificate will best fulfill your needs. Every training program offers different options for certification as well. Perhaps the best way to research your final list of schools is to check out each campus and talk with the students and faculty. Take the time to sit in on some classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the school you select is the best one for you. With the right training, hard work and commitment, you can become a professional plumber in Princeton AL.