How to Pick the Best Plumber Trade School near Vestavia Hills Alabama
The first step to learning to be a plumbing contractor or tradesman is enrolling in a plumbing trade school near Vestavia Hills AL. But with so many vocational schools to pick from, just how do you undertake making certain that you enroll in the ideal one? Particularly since there are so many factors to evaluate. For instance, some prospective students will start by searching for schools that are nearby their home. Once they have identified several that are within commuting range, they will select the one with the lowest tuition. Even though cost and location are important, they are not the sole qualifications that need to be evaluated. Also critical are the reputations of the schools, their accreditation, as well as their graduation and job placement rates. These and other qualifications should help mold your ultimate decision when selecting a plumber training school. We will discuss that checklist in greater detail later in this article. But to begin with, let's talk a little bit about becoming a plumber and the training options that are accessible.
What is 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 Certificate and Degree 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.
Questions to Ask Plumbing Vocational Schools
When you have decided to earn a certificate, diploma or degree, you can begin to narrow down your school options. Since there are numerous plumbing vocational and trade schools in the Vestavia Hills AL region, it's imperative to have a checklist of criteria that each school must satisfy. The first 2 that we discussed were location and the cost of tuition. And while both qualifiers may be important when making your decision, there are additional factors that must be considered as well. Below is a checklist of those additional qualifications that you will need to research before selecting a plumber vocational school.
Is the Plumbing School Accredited? A large number of plumbing technical schools have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They may acquire Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, for instance electrical technology. Make sure that the Vestavia Hills AL program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping make certain that you receive an excellent education, it may help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are frequently unavailable for non-accredited schools. Furthermore, some states mandate that the plumbing training program be accredited in order to be approved for certification or licensing.
Is the Plumbing School Licensed? Along with accreditation, another way of determining if a trade school you’re considering is reputable is by making sure that it’s properly licensed. Licensing is typically regulated and controlled by state agencies, such as the Alabama Department of Education. If you don’t know, 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 schools you are considering what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage or portion of students who enroll in and finish the program. A low completion rate may signify that students were unhappy with the program and quit. It might also indicate that the teachers were not competent to train the students. It's also imperative that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader directory 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 will not only affirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of contacts to assist graduates secure apprenticeships or jobs in the Vestavia Hills AL area.
Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored? Numerous plumber vocational programs are taught in conjunction with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating vocational and trade programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of plumbing companies or trade unions. Check if the schools you are considering have working partnerships with local Vestavia Hills AL plumbers or plumbing companies. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by supplying practical training, but it also supplies 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 using on the job. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the master plumber you are working with regarding what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Vestavia Hills AL plumbing contracting company if they can give you some pointers.
Where is the School Located? Unless you can relocate, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Vestavia Hills AL residence. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added moving costs there might be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Are there Smaller Classes? It's desirable that you receive as much personalized instruction as possible, which can be challenging in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor some of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between teachers and students. Speak to several of the students and get their comments regarding class sizes and instruction. Last, talk with some 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? Confirm that the class schedules for the schools you are evaluating are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you are only able to go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Vestavia Hills AL, check that the programs you are considering provide those options. If you can only attend part-time, make certain that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Finally, ask what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family issues.
Learn More About Vestavia Hills Plumber Vocational Schools
Enroll in the Right Vestavia Hills Plumber Training School
Selecting the best plumber training program will undoubtedly 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 assess and compare between the training programs you are reviewing. It's a prerequisite that any plumbing tech school that you are reviewing includes a good deal of hands-on training. Classes need to be smaller in size and every student must have their personal equipment to train with. Classroom instruction should provide a real-world perspective, and the curriculum should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Courses differ in duration and the kind of credential offered, so you will need to ascertain what length of program and certificate or degree will best serve your needs. Each program offers different possibilities for certification as well. Perhaps the best means to research your short list of schools is to go to each campus and talk with the faculty and students. Take the time to monitor some classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the school you choose is the best one for you. With the right training, effort and commitment, you can become a professional plumber in Vestavia Hills AL.