How to Select a Plumbing Tech School near Birmingham Alabama
The first step to learning to be a plumbing tradesman or contractor is locating a plumbing trade school near Birmingham AL. But with numerous vocational schools to select from, just how do you go about making certain that you enroll in the best one? Especially since there are a number of factors to consider. For example, many students will begin by searching for schools that are close to their residence. When they have found a few that are within commuting range, they will pick the one with the least expensive tuition. Although cost and location are of importance, they are not the only qualifications that should be considered. Also important are the reputations of the schools, their accreditation, along with their graduation and job placement rates. These and other qualifiers should contribute toward your ultimate decision when choosing a plumbing 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 choices that are offered.
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 plumber in Birmingham AL will typically advance through three phases during their professional career.
- Apprentice. The majority of 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 Birmingham 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 Programs
There are several options available 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 Birmingham AL area 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 Alabama 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 Plumbing Tech Schools
Now that you have decided to earn a diploma, certificate or degree, you can start to focus your training options. Considering that there are numerous Alabama plumbing vocational and trade schools in the Birmingham AL area, it’s essential to have a checklist of qualifications that each school must meet. The first 2 that we discussed were location and the cost of tuition. And even though both qualifiers may be critical when making your selection, there are other factors that need to be taken into account as well. Below is a checklist of those additional qualifiers that you will need to assess before choosing a plumber trade school.
Is the Plumbing School Accredited? A large number of Birmingham AL area plumbing technical programs have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They may acquire Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school’s programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, for instance plumbing technology. Confirm that the program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping ensure that you acquire a quality education, it may assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are frequently unavailable for non-accredited Alabama programs. Furthermore, some states require that the plumbing training course be accredited in order to be approved for certification or licensing.
Is the Plumbing School Licensed? In addition to accreditation, an additional way of determining if a vocational school near Birmingham AL you’re reviewing 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 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 Alabama 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 percentage of students who enroll in and complete the program. A lower completion rate could signify that students were disappointed with the program and dropped out. It might also mean that the instructors were not competent to instruct the students. It’s also essential that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader directory of alumni, which can mean more contacts for the school to use for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only confirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of Birmingham AL area contacts to assist grads obtain apprenticeships or jobs.
Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored? Many plumber technical programs are taught together with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating Birmingham AL area vocational and trade schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of plumbing contractors or labor unions. Ask if the schools you are considering have referring relationships with regional plumbers or plumbing contractors. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by furnishing practical training, but it also supplies job opportunities and helps to build relationships in the area plumbing professional community.
Are there Modern Facilities? Make sure that the campus facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are up-to-date and what you will be working with on the job. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the master plumber you are working under concerning what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Birmingham AL plumbing contractor if they can give you some pointers.
Where is the School Located? Unless you are willing to move, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Birmingham AL home. Take note that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there might be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Are there Smaller Classes? It’s desirable that you get as much one-on-one instruction as possible, which can be challenging in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor a couple of the classes so that you can see how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between teachers and students. Speak to some of the students and get their opinions relating to class sizes and instruction. Last, speak with a few of the instructors and find out what their level of expertise is in Alabama and what certifications or degrees they have earned.
Is the Class Schedule Convenient? Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are assessing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you are only able to attend classes at night or on weekends near Birmingham AL, verify that the programs you are comparing offer those options. Also, if you can only attend part-time, make certain that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Finally, check out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Why Did You Choose to Become a Plumbing Contractor?When getting ready to interview for a Plumbing job, it's a good idea to reflect on questions you could be asked. Among the things that recruiters often ask Plumbing applicants is "What compelled you to decide on Plumbing as a profession?". What the interviewer is hoping to discover is not only the private reasons you may have for becoming a Plumber, but also what attributes and skills you have that make you exceptional at your profession. You will undoubtedly be asked questions pertaining primarily to Plumbing, as well as a significant number of routine interview questions, so you need to organize several strategies about how you would like to address them. Considering there are several variables that go into choosing a career, you can address this primary question in a multitude of ways. When formulating an answer, attempt to include the reasons the profession appeals to you as well as the strengths you have that make you an excellent Plumber and the best candidate for the position. Don't attempt to memorize a response, but jot down several concepts and talking points that pertain to your own strengths and experiences. Reading through sample responses can help you to develop your own thoughts, and give you ideas of what to include to enthuse the interviewer.
Choose the Ideal Plumber Vocational School near Birmingham AL
Picking the best plumber training program will undoubtedly be the most critical decision you will make to launch your new profession. As we have addressed in this article, there are several things that you will need to assess and compare between the schools you are looking at. It’s a must that any plumbing training that you are assessing includes a lot of hands-on training. Classes need to be small in size and each student must have their own equipment to train with. Classroom education needs to provide a real-world perspective, and the training program should be current and conform with industry standards. Training programs vary in duration and the type of credential provided, so you will need to determine what length of program and certificate or degree will best serve your needs. Every program offers unique possibilities for certification as well. Perhaps The ideal way to research your short list of schools is to visit each campus and speak with the students and instructors. Take the time to sit in on some classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the training program you select is the right one for you. With the proper training, effort and commitment, the end outcome will be a new trade as a professional plumber in Birmingham AL.
Background on Birmingham Alabama
Birmingham (/ˈbɜːrmɪŋhæm/ BUR-ming-ham) is a city located in the north central region of the U.S. state of Alabama. With an estimated 2017 population of 210,710, it is the most populous city in Alabama. Birmingham is the seat of Jefferson County, Alabama's most populous and fifth largest county. As of 2017, the Birmingham-Hoover Metropolitan Statistical Area had a population of 1,149,807, making it the most populous in Alabama and 49th-most populous in the United States. Birmingham serves as an important regional hub and is associated with the Deep South, Piedmont, and Appalachian regions of the nation.
Birmingham was founded in 1871, during the post-Civil War Reconstruction era, through the merger of three pre-existing farm towns, most notably Elyton. The new city was named for Birmingham, England, the UK's second largest city and, at the time, a major industrial city. The Alabama city annexed smaller neighbors and developed as an industrial center, based on mining, the new iron and steel industry, and rail transport. Most of the original settlers who founded Birmingham were of English ancestry. The city was developed as a place where cheap, non-unionized immigrant labor (primarily Irish and Italian), along with African-American labor from rural Alabama, could be employed in the city's steel mills and blast furnaces, giving it a competitive advantage over unionized industrial cities in the Midwest and Northeast.:14
From its founding through the end of the 1960s, Birmingham was a primary industrial center of the southern United States. Its growth from 1881 through 1920 earned it nicknames such as "The Magic City" and "The Pittsburgh of the South". Its major industries were iron and steel production. Major components of the railroad industry, rails and railroad cars, were manufactured in Birmingham. Since the 1860s, the two primary hubs of railroading in the "Deep South" have been Birmingham and Atlanta. The economy diversified in the latter half of the 20th century. Banking, telecommunications, transportation, electrical power transmission, medical care, college education, and insurance have become major economic activities. Birmingham ranks as one of the largest banking centers in the U.S. Also, it is among the most important business centers in the Southeast.
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