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How to Choose the Best Plumber School near Tuscaloosa Alabama

Tuscaloosa Alabama plumbing contractor replacing kitchen sink faucetThe first step to learning to be a plumbing contractor or tradesman is finding a plumbing trade school near Tuscaloosa AL. But with so many vocational schools to pick from, just how do you undertake making certain that you enroll in the right one? Particularly since there are a number of factors to examine. For example, many students will start by looking for schools that are nearby their residence. When they have found a few that are within driving distance, they will choose the one with the lowest tuition. Even though cost and location are important, they are not the only factors that should be examined. Also important are the reputations of the schools, their accreditation, as well as their graduation and job placement rates. These and additional qualifiers should contribute toward your final judgment when selecting a plumbing trade school. We will discuss that checklist in more detail later in this article. But to begin with, let's talk a little bit about becoming a plumber and the educational choices that are accessible.

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 Programs

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 Plumber Technical Schools

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Now that you have decided to earn a certificate, diploma or degree, you can begin to focus your training options. Considering that there are so many plumbing vocational and trade schools in the Tuscaloosa AL area, it's essential to have a checklist of criteria that each school must satisfy. The first 2 that we mentioned were location and the cost of tuition. And even though both qualifiers may be important when making your selection, there are additional factors that need to be taken into account as well. Following is a checklist of those added qualifiers that you will need to assess prior to choosing a plumber trade school.

Is the Plumbing School Accredited?  A large number of plumbing technical programs have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They can receive Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, for instance electrical technology. Confirm that the Tuscaloosa AL school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting agency, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping guarantee that you get a superior education, it can help in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited schools. Also, many states mandate that the plumbing training course be accredited in order to qualify for certification or licensing.

Is the Plumbing School Licensed?  Along with accreditation, another way of confirming that a trade school you’re considering is reputable is by making sure that it’s properly licensed.  Licensing is usually regulated and controlled 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 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 training programs you are reviewing what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and complete the program. A lower completion rate may indicate that students were unhappy with the course and quit. It may also suggest that the teachers were not competent to instruct the students. It's also essential that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive list of graduates, which can mean more contacts for the school to utilize for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only validate that the school has an excellent reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of contacts to help students secure apprenticeships or jobs in the Tuscaloosa AL area.

Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored?  Most plumber technical programs are taught along with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating trade and technical programs 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 referring partnerships with local Tuscaloosa AL plumbers or plumbing contractors. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by furnishing practical training, but it also furnishes job opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the local plumbing professional community.

Are there Modern Facilities?  Make sure that the school 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 already in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the master plumber you are working with regarding what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Tuscaloosa AL plumbing contracting 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 commuting distance of your Tuscaloosa AL home. Take note that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there may be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.

Are there Smaller Classes?  It's important that you get as much one-on-one training 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 witness first hand the interaction between teachers and students. Speak to a few of the students and get their opinions concerning class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk with a few of the teachers and learn what their level of experience is in Tuscaloosa AL and what certifications or degrees they hold.

Is the Class Schedule Convenient?  Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are evaluating are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you are only able to go to classes at night or on weekends near Tuscaloosa AL, check that the programs you are considering provide those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Finally, ask what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family issues.

Learn More About Tuscaloosa Plumbing Training Schools

Choose the Right Tuscaloosa Plumbing Training School

Picking the right plumbing training program will probably be the most important decision you will make to begin your new trade. As we have addressed in this article, there are many factors that you will need to assess and compare among the training programs you are reviewing. It's a must that any plumber training program that you are evaluating includes a considerable amount of hands-on training. Classes should be smaller in size and each student must have their personal equipment to train with. Classroom instruction needs to offer a real-world frame of reference, and the training program should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Programs vary in duration and the type of credential offered, so you will have to decide what length of program and degree or certificate will best serve your needs. Each training program offers different possibilities for certification also. Probably The ideal means to research your short list of schools is to check out each campus and talk with the students and faculty. Invest some 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 ideal one for you. With the proper training, effort and dedication, you can become a professional plumber in Tuscaloosa AL.