How to Select the Best Plumbing Training Course near Vestavia Hills Alabama
The initial 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 choose from, just how do you undertake making certain that you enroll in the right one? Especially because there are a number of points to consider. For example, many students will commence by looking for schools that are nearby their residence. After they have located several that are within driving range, they will pick the one with the most affordable tuition. While cost and location are significant, they are not the sole things that need to be examined. Also critical are the accreditation and reputations of the schools, along with their graduation and job placement rates. These and additional qualifications should help mold your ultimate judgment when selecting a plumber training school. We will address 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 offered.
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.
Plumbing Degree and Certificate OptionsThere 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.
Topics to Ask Plumber Trade Schools
When you have decided to earn a certificate, diploma or degree, you can start to narrow down your training options. Since there are so many plumbing tech and trade schools in the Vestavia Hills AL region, it's essential to have a checklist of criteria that each program must satisfy. The initial two that we discussed were location and tuition expense. And even though both qualifiers may be critical when making your selection, there are additional factors that must be considered also. Following is a checklist of those added qualifications that you will need to assess before choosing a plumber vocational school.
Is the Plumbing School Accredited? A large number of plumbing vocational programs have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They may receive Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, for instance electrical technology. Make certain that the Vestavia Hills AL school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting agency, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping guarantee that you obtain an excellent education, it can help in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited programs. Also, a number of states mandate that the plumbing training program be accredited for it to be approved for certification or licensing.
Is the Plumbing School Licensed? In addition to 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 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 reviewing what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage or portion of students who enroll in and finish the program. A lower completion rate might signify that students were unhappy with the course and dropped out. It may also mean that the teachers were not qualified to train the students. It's similarly essential that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader list of graduates, which may result in more contacts for the school to employ 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 trade, but also that it has the network of contacts to assist graduates obtain apprenticeships or jobs in the Vestavia Hills AL area.
Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored? A large number of plumber vocational programs are taught along with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating vocational and trade schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of plumbing contractors or trade unions. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have referring relationships with local Vestavia Hills AL plumbers or plumbing companies. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by providing practical training, but it also supplies job opportunities and helps to build relationships in the area plumbing professional community.
Are there Modern Facilities? Make certain that the school facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are up-to-date and what you will be working with in the field. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the master plumber you are working under regarding what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Vestavia Hills AL plumbing contractor if they can give you some pointers.
Where is the School Located? Unless you are able to 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, besides the added relocation costs there can be increased tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Are there Smaller Classes? It's desirable that you receive as much personalized instruction as possible, which can be difficult in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor a couple of the classes so that you can see how big they are and experience the interaction between students and instructors. Talk to some of the students and get their comments regarding class sizes and instruction. Last, talk to some of the teachers and find out what their level of experience is in Vestavia Hills AL and what degrees or certifications 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 attend classes at night or on weekends near Vestavia Hills AL, check that the programs you are considering provide those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Additionally, check out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Pick the Right Vestavia Hills Plumbing Training School
Picking the best 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 factors that you will need to examine and compare among the training programs you are looking at. It's a prerequisite that any plumber training program that you are evaluating includes a considerable amount of hands-on instruction. Classes should be small in size and each student must have their own equipment to train with. Classroom instruction should offer a real-world context, and the course of study should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Programs differ in duration and the type of credential provided, so you will need to decide what length of program and certificate or degree will best serve your needs. Each program provides unique options for certification as well. Probably the best approach to research your short list of schools is to go to each campus and talk with the students and instructors. Invest some time to monitor a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the school you decide on is the best one for you. With the proper training, hard work and dedication, you can become a professional plumber in Vestavia Hills AL.