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How to Choose the Right Plumber Vocational School near Vestavia Hills Alabama

Vestavia Hills Alabama plumbing contractor replacing kitchen sink faucetThe first step to becoming a plumbing contractor or tradesman is enrolling in a plumbing trade school near Vestavia Hills AL. But with numerous vocational schools to choose from, just how do you undertake making sure that you enroll in the best one? Especially because there are so many factors to consider. For example, many students will begin by searching for schools that are nearby their home. Once they have located several that are within driving range, they will decide on the one with the cheapest tuition. Although cost and location are significant, they are not the only things that must be examined. Also important are the reputations of the schools, their accreditation, along with their graduation and job placement rates. These and additional qualifications should help mold your final decision when selecting a plumber trade school. We will discuss that checklist in more detail later in this article. But first, let's talk a little bit about becoming a plumber and the instructional options that are available.

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

  • Apprentice. The majority of Vestavia Hills 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 Vestavia Hills 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 Vestavia Hills 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 Trade Schools

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When you have made a decision to obtain a certificate, diploma or degree, you can begin to narrow down your training options. Because there are so many plumbing vocational and trade schools in the Vestavia Hills AL region, it's important to have a checklist of qualifications that each school must meet. The initial 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 variables that need to be taken into account also. Below is a checklist of those added qualifiers that you will need to assess prior to enrolling in a plumber trade school.

Is the Plumbing School Accredited?  A large number of plumbing technical schools have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They may receive Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, such as electrical technology. Make certain that the Vestavia Hills AL school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting organization, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping make certain that you receive an excellent education, it may assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are often unavailable for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of states mandate that the plumbing training program be accredited in order to qualify for certification or licensing.

Is the Plumbing School Licensed?  Along with accreditation, an additional way of confirming that a vocational school you’re considering is reputable is by making sure that it’s properly licensed.  Licensing is usually 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 Vestavia Hills 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 considering what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students who enroll in and finish the course. A low completion rate might indicate that students were disappointed with the program and dropped out. It might also mean that the instructors were not qualified to instruct the students. It's also important that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive 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 confirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the trade, but additionally that it has the network of contacts to help students secure apprenticeships or jobs in the Vestavia Hills 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 trade and technical schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of plumbing businesses or labor unions. Check if the schools you are comparing have working relationships with local Vestavia Hills AL plumbers or plumbing professionals. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by supplying hands-on training, but it also furnishes job opportunities and helps to form relationships in the local plumbing professional community.

Are there Modern Facilities?  Make certain 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 currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the master plumber you are working under regarding what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Vestavia Hills AL plumbing contracting company if they can provide some tips.

Where is the School Located?  Unless you are willing to move, the school must be within driving distance of your Vestavia Hills 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 charges 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 larger classes. Ask if you can monitor some of the classes so that you can see how big they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and teachers. Speak with several of the students and get their feedback relating to class sizes and instruction. Last, talk with some of the teachers and learn what their level of experience is in Vestavia Hills AL and what degrees or certifications they have earned.

Is the Class Schedule Convenient?  Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are evaluating are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Vestavia Hills AL, verify that the schools you are considering offer those choices. 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 protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family issues.

Find Out More About Vestavia Hills Plumber Training Schools

Pick the Right Vestavia Hills Plumber Trade School

Choosing the right plumber trade school will probably be the most important decision you will make to start your new career. As we have covered in this article, there are a number of factors that you will need to evaluate and compare among the schools you are considering. It's a must that any plumbing training that you are assessing includes a lot of hands-on training. Classes need to be smaller in size and every student must have their own equipment to train with. Classroom education needs to offer a real-world perspective, and the training program should be current and conform with industry standards. Training programs vary in duration and the kind of credential provided, so you will have to decide what length of program and degree or certificate will best satisfy your needs. Every program provides unique options for certification also. Perhaps The ideal approach to research your short list of schools is to check out each campus and speak with the students and instructors. Take the time to attend a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the training program you decide on is the ideal one for you. With the right training, hard work and commitment, you can become a professional plumber in Vestavia Hills AL.