How to Find the Best Plumber Tech School near Vestavia Hills Alabama
The initial 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 pick from, just how do you undertake making certain that you enroll in the ideal one? Especially since there are so many factors to examine. For instance, some potential students will start by looking for schools that are close to their home. After they have found some that are within driving range, they will select the one with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are of importance, they are not the only factors that must be examined. Also critical are the reputations of the schools, their accreditation, in addition to their job placement and graduation rates. These and additional qualifiers should influence your final judgment when selecting a plumber trade school. We will discuss that checklist in greater detail later in this post. But first, let's talk a little bit about becoming a plumber and the instructional choices that are accessible.
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 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.
Plumber Degree and Certificate ProgramsThere 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.
What to Ask Plumbing Tech Schools
When you have made a decision to obtain a diploma, certificate or degree, you can start to narrow down your school options. Since there are numerous plumbing tech and trade schools in the Vestavia Hills AL area, it's essential 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 while both qualifiers may be critical when making your decision, there are additional variables that need to be taken into account also. Below is a checklist of those additional qualifiers that you will need to analyze prior to enrolling in a plumber trade school.
Is the Plumbing School Accredited? Many plumbing vocational programs have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They may earn Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, for example electrical technology. Make sure that the Vestavia Hills AL program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping guarantee that you receive a superior education, it can help in securing financial aid or student loans, which are often unavailable for non-accredited schools. Also, some states mandate that the plumbing training course be accredited for it to be approved for licensing or certification.
Is the Plumbing School Licensed? In addition to accreditation, another way of determining if a vocational school you’re reiewing 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’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 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 looking at what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage or portion of students who enroll in and complete the program. A lower completion rate may indicate that students were disappointed with the program and dropped out. It could also signify that the teachers were not qualified to instruct the students. It's similarly important that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader list of alumni, which can result in more contacts for the school to use for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only confirm that the school has a good reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of contacts to assist graduates secure apprenticeships or employment in the Vestavia Hills AL area.
Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored? Many plumber trade programs are taught in conjunction with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating technical and vocational programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of plumbing contractors or labor unions. Find out if the schools you are considering have referring relationships with local Vestavia Hills AL plumbers or plumbing contractors. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by supplying hands-on training, but it also furnishes job opportunities and helps to form relationships in the regional plumbing professional community.
Are there Modern Facilities? Make sure that the campus facilities and the tools that you will be trained 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, consult with the master plumber you are working with regarding what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Vestavia Hills AL plumbing contracting company if they can give you some suggestions.
Where is the School Located? Unless you can move, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Vestavia Hills AL residence. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there can be increased tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Are there Smaller Classes? It's important that you receive as much personalized instruction as possible, which can be challenging in larger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a couple of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and teachers. Speak with a few of the students and get their feedback concerning class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk to a few of the instructors and find out what their level of experience is in Vestavia Hills AL and what certifications or degrees they have earned.
Is the Class Schedule Convenient? Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are reviewing are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Vestavia Hills AL, confirm that the programs you are looking at offer those choices. If you can only attend part-time, make certain that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Additionally, ask what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Best Vestavia Hills Plumber Trade School
Choosing the right plumber training program will undoubtedly be the most important decision you will make to start your new career. As we have discussed in this article, there are many things that you will need to assess and compare among the training programs you are looking at. It's a necessity that any plumbing tech school that you are evaluating includes a considerable amount of hands-on training. Classes need to be smaller in size and each student must have their personal equipment to train with. Classroom education should offer a real-world frame of reference, and the course of study should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Programs differ in duration and the kind of credential offered, so you will need to decide what length of program and degree or certificate will best fulfill your needs. Every training program offers unique options for certification also. Probably The ideal means to research your final list of schools is to go to each campus and talk with the students and faculty. Take the time to sit in on a few classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the training program you select is the ideal one for you. With the proper training, effort and commitment, you can become a professional plumber in Vestavia Hills AL.