How to Choose a Plumbing Tech School near Shelby Alabama
The first step to becoming a plumbing contractor or tradesman is enrolling in a plumbing trade school near Shelby AL. But with so many technical schools to pick from, just how do you go about making certain that you enroll in the best one? Especially because there are so many points to examine. For instance, some students will start by looking for schools that are close to their residence. Once they have found several that are within driving distance, they will pick the one with the most affordable tuition. Even though cost and location are of importance, they are not the sole factors that should be evaluated. Also critical are the reputations of the schools, their accreditation, along with their job placement and graduation rates. These and other qualifiers should influence your final judgment when choosing a plumbing training school. We will talk about that checklist in more 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 available.
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 Shelby 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 Shelby 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 Shelby 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.
Questions to Ask Plumbing Training Schools
Now that you have decided to earn a certificate, diploma or degree, you can begin to focus your school options. Since there are so many Alabama plumbing vocational and trade schools in the Shelby AL area, it’s important to have a checklist of criteria that each program must meet. The initial 2 that we talked about were location and tuition expense. And while both qualifiers may be important when making your determination, there are other factors that need to be taken into account also. Following is a checklist of those added qualifiers that you will need to assess before selecting a plumber technical school.
Is the Plumbing School Accredited? A large number of Shelby AL area plumbing trade schools have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They can acquire Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school’s programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, such as plumbing technology. Make sure that the program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting organization, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping make certain that you acquire a quality education, it may assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases not available for non-accredited Alabama schools. Also, many states mandate that the plumbing training course be accredited in order to qualify for licensing or certification.
Is the Plumbing School Licensed? Along with accreditation, another way of determining if a trade school near Shelby AL you’re considering is reputable is by checking that it’s properly licensed. Licensing is usually 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 check to ensure 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 schools you are considering what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage or portion of students who enroll in and complete the course. A low completion rate could suggest that students were unhappy with the course and quit. It might also mean that the instructors were not competent to train the students. It’s also essential that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive list of graduates, which can mean more contacts for the school to utilize for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only validate that the school has a good reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of Shelby AL area contacts to assist students acquire apprenticeships or employment.
Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored? Numerous plumber trade programs are taught along with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating Shelby AL area trade and vocational schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of plumbing companies or trade unions. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have referring relationships with local plumbers or plumbing specialists. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by providing practical training, but it also furnishes employment opportunities and helps to build relationships in the local plumbing professional community.
Are there Modern Facilities? Make certain that the school facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are state-of-the-art and what you will be working with in the field. If you are currently 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 Shelby AL plumbing contracting company if they can provide some suggestions.
Where is the School Located? Unless you can move, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Shelby AL home. Take note that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there can be increased tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Are there Smaller Classes? It’s desirable that you get as much personalized instruction as possible, which can be difficult 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 instructors and students. Speak to some of the students and get their comments relating to class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak to some of the instructors and find out what their level of experience is in Alabama and what degrees or certifications they hold.
Is the Class Schedule Convenient? Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are evaluating are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you are only able to attend classes at night or on weekends near Shelby AL, verify that the programs you are looking at offer those choices. Also, if you can only attend part-time, be sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Finally, check out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family issues.
Why Did You Choose to Become a Plumbing Contractor?When getting ready to interview for a Plumber position, it's a good idea to reflect on questions you might be asked. One of the questions that interviewers typically ask Plumber candidates is "What made you decide on Plumbing as a career?". What the interviewer is hoping to learn is not just the private reasons you might have for becoming a Plumber, but also what characteristics and abilities you have that make you exceptional at what you do. You will probably be asked questions pertaining exclusively to Plumbing, along with a significant number of routine interview questions, so you need to ready several ideas about how you would like to answer them. Since there are numerous factors that go into choosing a career, you can respond to this primary question in a variety of ways. When formulating an answer, try to include the reasons the work interests you as well as the strengths you have that make you an excellent Plumber and the ideal choice for the job. Don't attempt to memorize a response, but take down a few ideas and talking points that relate to your personal strengths and experiences. Going over sample responses can assist you to prepare your own concepts, and give you ideas of what to include to wow the interviewer.
Pick the Right Plumber Trade School near Shelby AL
Selecting the right plumber trade school will undoubtedly be the most critical decision you will make to begin your new career. 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 considering. It’s a necessity that any plumbing tech school that you are evaluating includes a considerable amount of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be smaller in size and each student should have their personal equipment to train with. Classroom teaching should offer a real-world frame of reference, and the training program should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Programs vary in duration and the kind 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 provides different options for certification also. Probably the best approach to research your short list of schools is to go to each campus and talk with the teachers and students. Invest some time to sit in on a few classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the program you choose is the right one for you. With the right training, effort and dedication, the final outcome will be a new trade as a professional plumber in Shelby AL.
Background on Shelby Alabama
Shelby County, Alabama
Shelby County is a county of the U.S. state of Alabama. As of the 2010 census the population was 195,085. The county seat is Columbiana. The county is named in honor of Isaac Shelby, Governor of Kentucky from 1792 to 1796 and again from 1812 to 1816.
Shelby County is included in the Birmingham-Hoover, AL Metropolitan Statistical Area.
Shelby County was established on February 7, 1818, and it was named for the Revolutionary War hero and the first Governor of Kentucky, Isaac Shelby. Beginning in 1820, the first county seat was located at Shelbyville. This settlement, long defunct, was located within the modern city limits of Pelham. The first courthouse was built of logs. The seat was moved to Columbia, now Columbiana, in 1826. Initially housed in an old school building, a new brick courthouse building was completed in 1854. It is now known as the Old Shelby County Courthouse and houses the Shelby County Museum and Archives. The current limestone courthouse was built from 1905–06, at a cost of $300,000.
Shelby County has a long history in agriculture, and since about 1990, it has become an important location for growing soybeans, which has exceeded cotton as the most important crop grown there.
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