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Once you have decided to earn a diploma, certificate or degree, you can begin to refine your school options. Because there are so many plumbing vocational and trade schools in the Tuscaloosa AL region, it's important to have a checklist of criteria that each program must satisfy. The initial 2 that we discussed were location and the cost of tuition. And although both qualifiers may be important when making your determination, there are other variables that need to be considered as well. Following is a checklist of those additional qualifiers that you will need to assess before selecting a plumber trade school.

Is the Plumbing School Accredited?  A large number of plumbing technical schools have acquired 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 an individual program, such as electrical technology. Verify that the Tuscaloosa AL school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping guarantee that you obtain an excellent education, it may assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases not available for non-accredited programs. Furthermore, many states mandate that the plumbing training course be accredited in order to be approved for licensing or certification.

Is the Plumbing School Licensed?  Along with accreditation, another way of confirming that 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 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 Tuscaloosa 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 complete the course. A low completion rate might indicate that students were disappointed with the course and dropped out. It could also indicate that the teachers were not competent to instruct 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 alumni, which may produce 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 trade, but also that it has the network of contacts to help students acquire apprenticeships or jobs in the Tuscaloosa AL area.

Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored?  Most plumber training programs are taught together with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating trade and technical programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of plumbing contractors or trade unions. Find out if the schools you are considering have referring partnerships with local Tuscaloosa AL plumbers or plumbing specialists. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by supplying practical training, but it also provides employment opportunities and helps to build relationships in the area plumbing professional community.

Are there Modern Facilities?  Make certain 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 already in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the master plumber you are working with regarding what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Tuscaloosa AL plumbing contracting company if they can give you some tips.

Where is the School Located?  Unless you are willing to move, the school must be within commuting distance of your Tuscaloosa AL home. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added moving costs there might be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.

Are there Smaller Classes?  It's important that you receive as much personalized training as possible, which can be challenging in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor a couple of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between instructors and students. Speak with some of the students and get their feedback regarding class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk to a few of the instructors and find out what their level of experience is in Tuscaloosa AL and what certifications or degrees they hold.

Is the Class Schedule Convenient?  Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are evaluating are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Tuscaloosa AL, check that the schools you are looking at offer those choices. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Finally, check out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family emergencies.

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