How to Select the Right Plumber Vocational School near Tuscaloosa Alabama
The initial step to learning to be a plumbing contractor or tradesman is enrolling in a plumbing trade school near Tuscaloosa AL. But with numerous technical schools to select from, just how do you approach making certain that you enroll in the right one? Particularly because there are so many points to evaluate. For example, some potential students will begin by searching for schools that are close to their residence. After they have identified several that are within commuting range, they will pick the one with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are of importance, they are not the sole things that must be considered. Also critical are the accreditation and reputations of the schools, in addition to their job placement and graduation rates. These and other qualifications should contribute toward your final decision when picking a plumber trade school. We will talk about that checklist in more detail later in this post. But to begin with, let's review a little bit about becoming a plumber and the training options that are offered.
Becoming a Plumber
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 ProgramsThere 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
When you have made a decision to earn a certificate, diploma or degree, you can start to narrow down your training options. Because there are so many plumbing tech and trade schools in the Tuscaloosa AL region, it's essential to have a checklist of qualifications that each program must meet. The initial 2 that we talked about were location and the cost of tuition. And although both qualifiers may be crucial when making your decision, there are additional factors that must be taken into account as well. Below is a checklist of those additional qualifiers that you will need to assess before enrolling in a plumber vocational school.
Is the Plumbing School Accredited? A large number of plumbing technical schools have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They can acquire Institutional Accreditation, which involves 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 school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping ensure that you obtain an excellent education, it may assist in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited schools. Furthermore, some states mandate that the plumbing training course be accredited in order to qualify for licensing or certification.
Is the Plumbing School Licensed? Along with accreditation, an additional way of determining if 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 don’t know, 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 training programs you are reviewing what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students who enroll in and complete the course. A lower completion rate may signify that students were dissatisfied with the program and quit. It may also mean that the instructors were not qualified to train the students. It's similarly essential 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 affirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of contacts to help graduates acquire apprenticeships or employment in the Tuscaloosa AL area.
Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored? Most plumber vocational programs are taught together with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating trade and vocational programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of plumbing contractors or trade unions. Ask if the schools you are considering have working 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 provides employment opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the local plumbing professional community.
Are there Modern Facilities? Confirm that the school facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are up-to-date and what you will be using on the job. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the master plumber you are working under regarding what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Tuscaloosa AL plumbing contracting company if they can give you some tips.
Where is the School Located? Unless you can move, the school must be within commuting distance of your Tuscaloosa AL residence. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there may be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Are there Smaller Classes? It's desirable that you get as much one-on-one instruction 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 big they are and witness first hand the interaction between teachers and students. Talk with several of the students and get their comments concerning class sizes and instruction. Last, speak to some of the teachers and learn what their level of experience is in Tuscaloosa AL and what certifications or degrees they have earned.
Is the Class Schedule Convenient? Confirm that the class schedules for the schools you are assessing are flexible enough to fulfill 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 comparing provide those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family emergencies.
Learn More About Tuscaloosa Plumber Trade Schools
Pick the Best Tuscaloosa Plumbing Training School
Selecting the ideal plumber training program will probably be the most critical decision you will make to launch your new career. As we have covered in this article, there are a number of things that you will need to evaluate and compare between the training programs you are considering. It's a necessity that any plumber tech school that you are reviewing includes a lot of hands-on training. Classes should be small in size and every student should have their own equipment to train with. Classroom teaching needs to provide a real-world perspective, and the training program should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Courses vary in duration and the kind of credential provided, so you will have to decide what length of program and certificate or degree will best fulfill your needs. Every program provides different possibilities for certification as well. Probably the best way to research your short list of schools is to visit each campus and speak with the teachers and students. Take the time to monitor a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the program you choose is the ideal one for you. With the proper training, effort and dedication, you can become a professional plumber in Tuscaloosa AL.