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

Vestavia Hills Alabama plumbing contractor replacing sink faucetThe initial step to becoming a plumbing tradesman or contractor is finding a plumbing trade school near Vestavia Hills AL. But with so many vocational schools to pick from, just how do you go about making certain that you enroll in the ideal one? Especially because there are a number of factors to consider. For instance, many potential students will begin by looking for schools that are nearby their residence. When they have found several that are within driving range, they will pick the one with the cheapest tuition. Although cost and location are important, they are not the only factors that should be evaluated. Also critical are the accreditation and reputations of the schools, as well as their graduation and job placement rates. These and other qualifications should help mold your ultimate decision when picking a plumber trade school. We will cover that checklist in greater detail later in this post. But first, let's review a little bit about becoming a plumber and the educational choices that are accessible.

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.

Plumber 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.

Points to Ask Plumber Technical Schools

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When you have decided to obtain a diploma, certificate or degree, you can begin to refine your training options. Because there are numerous plumbing trade and vocational schools in the Vestavia Hills AL region, it's important to have a checklist of criteria that each school must satisfy. The first two that we discussed were location and the cost of tuition. And even though both qualifiers may be crucial when making your determination, there are other variables that need to be considered also. Following is a checklist of those additional qualifications that you will need to research prior to selecting a plumber tech school.

Is the Plumbing School Accredited?  Many plumbing trade schools have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They may earn Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, for example electrical technology. Make certain that the Vestavia Hills AL program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping ensure that you obtain an excellent education, it can help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are frequently unavailable for non-accredited schools. Furthermore, many states require that the plumbing training program be accredited for it to qualify for licensing or certification.

Is the Plumbing School Licensed?  In addition to accreditation, an additional way of determining if a trade school you’re reiewing is reputable is by checking that it’s properly licensed.  Licensing is typically regulated and controlled 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 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 percentage of students who enroll in and complete the course. A low completion rate may suggest that students were dissatisfied with the course and dropped out. It might also indicate that the instructors were not competent to train the students. It's also imperative that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader list of graduates, which can produce more contacts for the school to employ 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 trade, but additionally that it has the network of contacts to assist graduates acquire apprenticeships or employment in the Vestavia Hills AL area.

Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored?  A large number of plumber trade programs are taught along with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating trade and technical programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of plumbing contractors or trade unions. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have referring relationships with local Vestavia Hills AL plumbers or plumbing contractors. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by supplying practical training, but it also furnishes job opportunities and helps to build relationships in the regional plumbing professional community.

Are there Modern Facilities?  Make certain that the campus facilities and the equipment that you will be trained 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 concerning what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Vestavia Hills AL plumbing contracting company if they can provide some tips.

Where is the School Located?  Unless you can move, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Vestavia Hills AL residence. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there might be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.

Are there Smaller Classes?  It's important that you receive as much individualized training as possible, which can be difficult in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor a few of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and experience the interaction between teachers and students. Talk with a few of the students and get their comments relating to class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak 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?  Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are reviewing are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Vestavia Hills AL, verify that the schools you are comparing offer those options. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family responsibilities.

Find Out More About Vestavia Hills Plumbing Trade Schools

Pick the Best Vestavia Hills Plumbing Trade School

Selecting the right plumber training program will undoubtedly be the most important decision you will make to start your new profession. As we have covered in this article, there are a number of things that you will need to evaluate and compare between the schools you are reviewing. It's a must that any plumbing tech school that you are assessing includes a lot of hands-on training. Classes should be small in size and every student should have their personal equipment to train with. Classroom education should provide a real-world frame of reference, and the curriculum should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Training programs differ in duration and the kind of credential offered, so you will have to decide what length of program and credential will best fulfill your needs. Each training program provides different options for certification also. Probably the best way to research your short list of schools is to visit each campus and speak with the faculty and students. Invest some time to monitor a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the training program you choose is the right one for you. With the proper training, effort and dedication, you can become a professional plumber in Vestavia Hills AL.