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How to Find the Right Plumbing Tech School near Tuscaloosa Alabama

Tuscaloosa Alabama plumber replacing sink faucetThe initial step to learning to be a plumbing tradesman or contractor is locating a plumbing trade school near Tuscaloosa AL. But with numerous technical schools to choose from, just how do you approach making sure that you enroll in the best one? Particularly because there are so many variables to consider. For instance, some potential students will start by searching for schools that are close to their residence. Once they have located a few that are within commuting range, they will select the one with the cheapest tuition. While location and cost are of importance, they are not the sole things that must be considered. Also important are the reputations of the schools, their accreditation, in addition to their graduation and job placement rates. These and other qualifiers should help mold your final judgment when selecting a plumber trade school. We will talk about that checklist in more detail later in this article. But to begin with, let's review a little bit about becoming a plumber and the educational choices that are accessible.

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

  • Apprentice. The majority of Tuscaloosa 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 Tuscaloosa 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 Tuscaloosa 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.

Topics to Ask Plumbing Technical Schools

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Once you have made a decision to obtain a diploma, certificate or degree, you can begin to narrow down your school options. Since there are numerous plumbing vocational and trade schools in the Tuscaloosa AL region, it's important to have a checklist of criteria that each program must meet. The first 2 that we mentioned were location and the cost of tuition. And even though both qualifiers may be critical when making your selection, there are other factors that must be taken into account also. Following is a checklist of those added qualifiers that you will need to analyze before enrolling in a plumber technical school.

Is the Plumbing School Accredited?  Many plumbing trade schools have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They may acquire Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, such as electrical technology. Make sure that the Tuscaloosa 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 make certain that you acquire a superior education, it may help in securing financial aid or student loans, which are often unavailable for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of states require 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, another way of confirming that a vocational school you’re reiewing is reputable is by checking that it’s properly licensed.  Licensing is usually regulated and controlled by state agencies, such as the Alabama Department of Education.  If you don’t know, ask the school which state agency is responsible for 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 portion or percentage of students who enroll in and finish the program. A lower completion rate might suggest that students were dissatisfied with the program and quit. It could also suggest that the instructors were not qualified to train the students. It's also essential that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader list 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 affirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of contacts to help students obtain apprenticeships or jobs in the Tuscaloosa AL area.

Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored?  Most plumber technical programs are taught in conjunction with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating technical and vocational programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of plumbing contractors or labor unions. Ask if the schools you are comparing have referring relationships with local Tuscaloosa AL plumbers or plumbing companies. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by providing hands-on training, but it also supplies job opportunities and helps to form relationships in the regional 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 on the job. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the master plumber you are working under regarding what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Tuscaloosa AL plumbing contractor if they can provide some suggestions.

Where is the School Located?  Unless you can relocate, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Tuscaloosa AL residence. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there can be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.

Are there Smaller Classes?  It's desirable that you get as much personalized training as possible, which can be challenging in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor a few of the classes so that you can see how large they are and experience the interaction between teachers and students. Talk to a few of the students and get their opinions concerning class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak to some of the teachers and find out what their level of experience is in Tuscaloosa AL and what degrees or certifications they have earned.

Is the Class Schedule Convenient?  Confirm that the class schedules for the schools you are evaluating are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you are only able to attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Tuscaloosa AL, check that the programs you are looking at offer those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Additionally, find out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family issues.

Learn More About Tuscaloosa Plumber Trade Schools

Choose the Right Tuscaloosa Plumbing Vocational School

Selecting the ideal plumber trade school will probably be the most critical decision you will make to launch your new career. As we have addressed in this article, there are many things that you will need to assess and compare among the training programs you are looking at. It's a prerequisite that any plumbing training program that you are reviewing includes a considerable amount of hands-on training. Classes need to be small in size and each student should have their personal equipment to train with. Classroom education needs to provide a real-world frame of reference, and the curriculum should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Programs differ in duration and the type of credential offered, so you will have to determine what length of program and credential will best satisfy your needs. Each program offers unique options for certification also. Probably The ideal approach to research your final list of schools is to check out each campus and speak with the teachers and students. Take the time to attend a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the training program you pick is the right one for you. With the right training, hard work and dedication, you can become a professional plumber in Tuscaloosa AL.