How to Pick the Right Plumber Tech School near Vestavia Hills Alabama
The initial step to becoming a plumbing contractor or tradesman is locating a plumbing trade school near Vestavia Hills AL. But with so many technical schools to select from, just how do you undertake making sure that you enroll in the right one? Particularly since there are so many variables to consider. For instance, many students will start by searching for schools that are nearby their home. When they have found some that are within driving range, they will decide on the one with the most affordable tuition. Even though cost and location are of importance, they are not the sole factors that should be examined. Also critical are the reputations of the schools, their accreditation, in addition to their graduation and job placement rates. These and other qualifications should influence your final decision when choosing a plumber training 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 training options 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.
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.
Questions to Ask Plumbing Vocational Schools
Once you have decided to obtain a diploma, certificate or degree, you can begin to refine your training options. Because there are so many plumbing vocational and trade schools in the Vestavia Hills AL area, it's imperative to have a checklist of criteria that each program must meet. The first two that we mentioned were location and the cost of tuition. And although both qualifiers may be important when making your determination, there are additional factors that must be taken into account also. Following is a checklist of those additional qualifications that you will need to research before enrolling in a plumber technical school.
Is the Plumbing School Accredited? A large number of plumbing vocational schools have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They can earn Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, such as electrical technology. Confirm that the Vestavia Hills AL school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping ensure that you acquire an excellent education, it may assist in securing financial aid or student loans, which are often unavailable for non-accredited schools. Additionally, some states require that the plumbing training program be accredited in order to qualify for certification or licensing.
Is the Plumbing School Licensed? In addition to accreditation, another way of determining if a vocational school you’re reiewing is reputable is by checking that it’s properly licensed. Licensing is typically controlled and regulated by state agencies, such as the Alabama Department of Education. If you’re not sure, 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 percentage of students who enroll in and complete the course. A low completion rate might suggest that students were dissatisfied with the program and quit. It could also suggest that the instructors were not qualified to instruct the students. It's similarly essential that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader directory of alumni, which may result in more contacts for the school to utilize for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only validate that the school has an excellent reputation within the trade, but additionally that it has the network of contacts to assist graduates obtain apprenticeships or employment in the Vestavia Hills AL area.
Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored? Most plumber vocational programs are taught in conjunction with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating vocational and technical programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of plumbing businesses or labor unions. Check if the schools you are reviewing have referring partnerships with local Vestavia Hills AL plumbers or plumbing companies. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by providing practical training, but it also supplies employment 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 using on the job. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the master plumber you are working with concerning what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Vestavia Hills AL plumbing company if they can provide some tips.
Where is the School Located? Unless you can relocate, the school must be within commuting distance of your Vestavia Hills AL residence. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides the added moving costs there may be increased tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Are there Smaller Classes? It's important that you get as much one-on-one training as possible, which can be challenging in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor a couple of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and instructors. Speak to several of the students and get their comments relating to class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak with a few of the teachers and find out what their level of experience is in Vestavia Hills AL and what certifications or degrees they hold.
Is the Class Schedule Convenient? Confirm that the class schedules for the schools you are assessing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Vestavia Hills AL, confirm that the schools you are reviewing provide those options. If you can only attend part-time, be sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Also, check out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family responsibilities.
Pick the Right Vestavia Hills Plumber Training School
Selecting the right plumber trade school will probably be the most critical decision you will make to launch your new profession. As we have discussed in this article, there are a number of factors that you will need to assess and compare between the schools you are reviewing. It's a necessity that any plumbing training that you are considering 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 provide a real-world perspective, and the training program should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Programs differ in duration and the type of credential provided, so you will have to decide what length of program and certificate or degree will best fulfill your needs. Each training program offers unique options for certification also. Perhaps The ideal means to research your short list of schools is to go to each campus and speak with the students and faculty. Take the time to sit in on some classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the training program you choose is the ideal one for you. With the right training, hard work and dedication, you can become a professional plumber in Vestavia Hills AL.