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How to Select the Right Plumbing Training Course near Tuscaloosa Alabama

Tuscaloosa Alabama plumbing contractor fixing kitchen sink faucetThe first step to becoming a plumbing tradesman or contractor is locating a plumbing trade school near Tuscaloosa AL. But with so many technical schools to pick from, just how do you undertake making sure that you enroll in the ideal one? Especially since there are a number of factors to examine. For instance, some students will begin by searching for schools that are close to their home. Once they have identified several that are within commuting distance, they will select the one with the most affordable tuition. While location and cost are important, they are not the only factors that must be examined. Also important are the reputations of the schools, their accreditation, as well as their job placement and graduation rates. These and additional qualifications should help mold your final decision when picking a plumber trade school. We will cover that checklist in greater detail later in this post. But to begin with, let's talk a little bit about becoming a plumber and the educational options 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.

Plumbing Certificate and Degree 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.

Questions to Ask Plumbing Tech Schools

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When you have decided to earn a diploma, certificate or degree, you can begin to refine your training options. Because there are numerous plumbing tech and trade schools in the Tuscaloosa AL region, it's important to have a checklist of criteria that each program must meet. The initial 2 that we discussed were location and the cost of tuition. And although both qualifiers may be crucial when making your decision, there are additional factors that need to be taken into account as well. Below is a checklist of those additional qualifiers that you will need to research before choosing a plumber tech school.

Is the Plumbing School Accredited?  Many plumbing trade schools have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They can attain Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, for instance electrical technology. Verify that the Tuscaloosa AL program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping make certain that you get a superior education, it can help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases not available for non-accredited schools. Also, some states require that the plumbing training course be accredited in order to qualify for licensing or certification.

Is the Plumbing School Licensed?  In addition to accreditation, an additional way of confirming that a vocational school you’re reiewing is reputable is by making sure that it’s properly licensed.  Licensing is typically controlled and regulated 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 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 training programs you are reviewing 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 may suggest that students were dissatisfied with the course and dropped out. It might also suggest that the instructors were not competent to train 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 alumni, which may produce 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 trade, but additionally that it has the network of contacts to help graduates secure apprenticeships or employment in the Tuscaloosa AL area.

Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored?  A large number of plumber training programs are taught along with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating vocational and trade schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of plumbing companies or labor unions. Ask if the schools you are considering have working relationships with local Tuscaloosa AL plumbers or plumbing specialists. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by providing practical training, but it also furnishes employment opportunities and helps to form relationships in the local plumbing professional community.

Are there Modern Facilities?  Make sure that the campus facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are state-of-the-art 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 under concerning what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Tuscaloosa AL plumbing contracting company if they can give you some tips.

Where is the School Located?  Unless you are able to move, 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, in addition to relocation costs there can be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.

Are there Smaller Classes?  It's desirable that you receive as much individualized training as possible, which can be challenging in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor a couple of the classes so that you can see how large they are and experience the interaction between students and instructors. Talk with some of the students and get their comments relating to class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak to some of the instructors and learn what their level of experience is in Tuscaloosa AL and what certifications or degrees they have earned.

Is the Class Schedule Convenient?  Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are evaluating are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you are only able to attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Tuscaloosa AL, confirm that the schools you are reviewing offer those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Additionally, ask what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family emergencies.

Find Out More About Tuscaloosa Plumber Trade Schools

Enroll in the Right Tuscaloosa Plumber Vocational School

Picking the ideal plumber training program will probably be the most critical decision you will make to begin your new trade. As we have addressed in this article, there are many things that you will need to evaluate and compare between the training programs you are looking at. It's a must that any plumber training that you are assessing includes a good deal of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be smaller in size and every student should have their personal equipment to train with. Classroom education needs to offer a real-world perspective, and the training program should be current and in-line with industry standards. Training programs vary in length and the kind of credential offered, so you will have to ascertain what length of program and degree or certificate will best fulfill your needs. Each training program provides different possibilities for certification also. Probably the best approach to research your final list of schools is to check out each campus and speak with the students and instructors. Take the time to monitor a few classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the program you select is the ideal one for you. With the right training, effort and commitment, you can become a professional plumber in Tuscaloosa AL.