How to Find the Best Plumbing 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 approach making sure that you enroll in the right one? Especially because there are so many factors to evaluate. For example, some potential students will start by searching for schools that are nearby their home. Once they have located some that are within driving distance, they will pick the one with the most affordable tuition. While cost and location are significant, they are not the only qualifications that must be evaluated. Also critical are the accreditation and reputations of the schools, as well as their job placement and graduation rates. These and other qualifications should influence your final judgment when choosing a plumbing trade school. We will discuss that checklist in greater detail later in this article. But first, let's review a little bit about becoming a plumber and the educational 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.
Plumbing Certificate and Degree 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 Plumber Tech Schools
Once you have made a decision to obtain a diploma, certificate or degree, you can begin to narrow down your training options. Considering that there are numerous plumbing trade and vocational schools in the Vestavia Hills AL region, it's imperative to have a checklist of qualifications that each program must meet. The first two that we talked about were location and tuition expense. And while both qualifiers may be critical when making your selection, there are other variables that need to be considered as well. Following is a checklist of those additional qualifiers that you will need to assess prior to choosing a plumber trade school.
Is the Plumbing School Accredited? Numerous plumbing vocational schools have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They can acquire Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, for example electrical technology. Confirm that the Vestavia Hills AL program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting agency, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping guarantee that you acquire a quality education, it can assist in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable for non-accredited schools. Furthermore, some states require that the plumbing training program be accredited in order to qualify for licensing or certification.
Is the Plumbing School Licensed? Along with accreditation, an additional way of determining if a vocational school you’re reiewing 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 looking at what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students who enroll in and complete the course. A lower completion rate might signify that students were dissatisfied with the course and dropped out. It could also signify that the instructors were not competent to instruct the students. It's also imperative that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive directory of graduates, which may result in more contacts for the school to use for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only confirm that the school has a good reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of contacts to assist students secure apprenticeships or employment in the Vestavia Hills AL area.
Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored? A large number of plumber trade programs are taught together 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. Find out if the schools you are comparing have referring partnerships with local Vestavia Hills AL plumbers or plumbing professionals. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by furnishing hands-on training, but it also supplies employment opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the regional plumbing professional community.
Are there Modern Facilities? Make certain that the school facilities and the tools that you will be trained 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. Otherwise, ask a local Vestavia Hills AL plumbing contracting company if they can provide some pointers.
Where is the School Located? Unless you are willing to move, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Vestavia Hills AL home. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there might be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Are there Smaller Classes? It's important that you get as much individualized training as possible, which can be difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a few of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and instructors. Talk with a few of the students and get their comments relating to class sizes and instruction. Last, speak with a few of the teachers and learn what their level of experience is in Vestavia Hills AL and what degrees or certifications they hold.
Is the Class Schedule Convenient? Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are evaluating are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you are only able to go to classes at night or on weekends near Vestavia Hills AL, verify that the programs you are reviewing provide those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Finally, find out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family issues.
Learn More About Vestavia Hills Plumbing Tech Schools
Choose the Best Vestavia Hills Plumbing Training School
Selecting the ideal plumbing training program will undoubtedly be the most important decision you will make to begin your new trade. As we have covered in this article, there are several factors that you will need to evaluate and compare between the training programs you are reviewing. It's a must that any plumber tech school that you are considering includes a good deal of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be smaller in size and each student should have their personal equipment to train with. Classroom instruction should offer a real-world context, and the curriculum should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Training programs vary in length and the kind of credential offered, so you will need to decide what length of program and degree or certificate will best serve your needs. Each program offers different options for certification also. Perhaps the best means to research your short list of schools is to check out each campus and talk with the students and faculty. Take the time to attend some classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the training program you pick is the right one for you. With the proper training, effort and dedication, you can become a professional plumber in Vestavia Hills AL.