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How to Choose the Right Plumbing Training School near Tuscaloosa Alabama

Tuscaloosa Alabama plumbing contractor fixing sink faucetThe initial step to becoming a plumbing contractor or tradesman is enrolling in a plumbing trade school near Tuscaloosa AL. But with numerous vocational schools to choose from, just how do you undertake making sure that you enroll in the right one? Particularly since there are a number of variables to consider. For example, many potential students will start by looking for schools that are nearby their home. After they have found some that are within driving range, they will select the one with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are significant, they are not the sole factors that must be considered. Also important are the reputations of the schools, their accreditation, as well as their job placement and graduation rates. These and other qualifications should help mold your ultimate judgment when selecting a plumbing training school. We will discuss that checklist in more detail later in this article. But first, let's review a little bit about becoming a plumber and the educational 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 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.

Plumber 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.

Points to Ask Plumber Vocational 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 training options. Considering that there are so many plumbing trade and vocational schools in the Tuscaloosa AL region, it's essential to have a checklist of qualifications that each school must meet. The first two that we mentioned were location and the cost of tuition. And although both qualifiers may be important when making your decision, there are other variables that need to be considered also. Following is a checklist of those additional qualifiers that you will need to assess before choosing a plumber vocational school.

Is the Plumbing School Accredited?  A large number of plumbing vocational programs have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They can receive Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, for example electrical technology. Make certain that the Tuscaloosa AL school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping make certain that you acquire an excellent education, it can assist in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. Additionally, some states require that the plumbing training course be accredited for it to be approved for licensing or certification.

Is the Plumbing School Licensed?  Along with accreditation, another way of determining if a trade 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’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 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 complete the program. A low completion rate may indicate that students were unhappy with the program and dropped out. It could also mean that the instructors were not competent to train the students. It's similarly important 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 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 students obtain apprenticeships or jobs in the Tuscaloosa AL area.

Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored?  Numerous plumber training programs are taught along with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating vocational and trade programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of plumbing companies or labor unions. Find out if the schools you are comparing have working partnerships with local Tuscaloosa AL plumbers or plumbing contractors. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by supplying practical training, but it also supplies employment opportunities and helps to build relationships in the regional plumbing professional community.

Are there Modern Facilities?  Make certain that the campus facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are up-to-date and what you will be working with on the job. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the master plumber you are working with concerning what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Tuscaloosa AL plumbing company if they can give you some pointers.

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

Are there Smaller Classes?  It's desirable that you get as much personalized instruction as possible, which can be difficult in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor some of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and teachers. Speak to a few of the students and get their opinions relating to class sizes and instruction. Last, talk with 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?  Verify 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 in the evening or on weekends near Tuscaloosa AL, check that the schools you are comparing offer those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Additionally, check out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family responsibilities.

Learn More About Tuscaloosa Plumber Training Schools

Choose the Right Tuscaloosa Plumbing Training School

Selecting the best plumber trade school will probably be the most critical decision you will make to begin your new career. As we have discussed in this article, there are several factors that you will need to evaluate and compare among the schools you are reviewing. It's a must that any plumbing tech school that you are considering includes a considerable amount of hands-on training. Classes should be smaller in size and every student must have their personal equipment to train with. Classroom education needs to provide a real-world frame of reference, and the curriculum should be current and conform with industry standards. Programs differ in duration and the kind of credential provided, so you will have to determine what length of program and degree or certificate will best fulfill your needs. Every program offers different possibilities for certification also. Perhaps the best approach to research your short list of schools is to go to each campus and talk with the students and instructors. Take the time to attend a few classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the program you pick is the ideal one for you. With the proper training, hard work and dedication, you can become a professional plumber in Tuscaloosa AL.