How to Become a Plumber near Opelika Alabama
The initial step to learning to be a plumbing contractor or tradesman is finding a plumbing school near Opelika AL. But with numerous technical schools to pick from, just how do you undertake making sure that you enroll in the best one? Particularly because there are a number of variables to evaluate. For example, some prospective students will start by searching for schools that are nearby their residence. When they have identified some that are within driving range, they will choose the one with the least expensive tuition. Although cost and location are of importance, they are not the sole factors that should be evaluated. Also important are the accreditation and reputations of the schools, as well as their job placement and graduation rates. These and additional qualifications should help mold your ultimate judgment when picking a plumber training school. We will cover that checklist in greater detail later in this post. But to begin with, let’s review a little bit about becoming a plumber and the training options that are accessible.
Becoming a Plumber in Opelika AL
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 Opelika AL plumber will typically advance through three phases during their professional career.
- Apprentice. The majority of Opelika 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 Opelika 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 educational options available near Opelika 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 Tech Schools
When you have made a decision to earn a diploma, certificate or degree, you can begin to focus your training options. Because there are so many plumbing vocational and trade schools in the Opelika AL area, it’s imperative to have a checklist of qualifications that each program must meet. The first 2 that we talked about were location and tuition expense. And even though both qualifiers may be important when making your selection, there are other variables that need to be taken into account also. Following is a checklist of those added qualifications that you will need to analyze prior to choosing a plumber technical school.
Is the Plumbing School Accredited? Numerous plumbing trade schools have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They can receive Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school’s programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, for instance electrical technology. Confirm that the Opelika AL program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting organization, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping ensure that you obtain an excellent education, it can assist in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable for non-accredited schools. Furthermore, a number of states require that the plumbing training course be accredited in order to qualify for certification or licensing.
Is the Plumbing School Licensed? Along with accreditation, an additional way of confirming that a vocational school you’re reiewing is reputable is by making sure that it’s properly licensed. Licensing is typically controlled and regulated by state agencies, such as the Alabama Department of Education. If you don’t know, ask the school which state agency regulates 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 Opelika 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 schools 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 program. A low completion rate might indicate that students were dissatisfied with the course and quit. It might also suggest that the instructors were not competent to instruct the students. It’s similarly essential that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader list of alumni, which can result in more contacts for the school to use for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only affirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of contacts to assist graduates acquire apprenticeships or jobs in the Opelika AL area.
Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored? Many plumber vocational programs are taught along with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating vocational and technical programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of plumbing companies or labor unions. Check if the schools you are considering have working relationships with local Opelika AL plumbers or plumbing companies. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by providing hands-on training, but it also supplies employment opportunities and helps to form relationships in the area plumbing professional community.
Are there Modern Facilities? Confirm 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, consult with the master plumber you are working under concerning what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Opelika AL plumbing company if they can give you some suggestions.
Where is the School Located? Unless you are willing to relocate, the school must be within commuting distance of your Opelika AL home. Remember that if you decide to enroll in 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 important that you get as much personalized training as possible, which can be challenging in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor some of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and experience the interaction between students and instructors. Talk with a few of the students and get their comments regarding class sizes and instruction. Last, speak to some of the teachers and find out what their level of experience is in Opelika AL and what certifications or degrees they have earned.
Is the Class Schedule Convenient? Confirm that the class schedules for the schools you are evaluating are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you are only able to attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Opelika AL, check that the programs you are considering provide those options. If you can only attend part-time, make 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 due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
Considering Plumbing School near Opelika AL?
If you are considering enrolling in and attending a plumber training school near Opelika AL and are unfamiliar with the area, following is some interesting and useful background information regarding the location of your future school campus.
Opelika (pronounced |ˌoʊ pəˈlaɪ kə|) is a city in and the county seat of Lee County in the east central part of the State of Alabama. It is a principal city of the Auburn-Opelika Metropolitan Area. According to the 2013 Census Estimate, the population of Opelika was 28,635. The Auburn-Opelika, AL MSA with a population of 150,933 which, along with the Columbus, Georgia metropolitan area and Macon County, Alabama, comprises the greater Greater Columbus, Georgia, a region home to 501,649 residents.
The first white settlers in the area now known as Opelika arrived in the late 1830s and established a community called Lebanon. After the removal of the native Creek (Muscogee) peoples by federal troops in 1836-37, the area became known as "Opelika." This word taken from the Muskogee language means "large swamp". Settlement was sporadic until the late 1840s, when the railroad reached the town. This stimulated development of Opelika as a commercial center.
In 1848, the Montgomery and West Point Railroad Company extended a rail line from Montgomery, Alabama, to Opelika, and in 1851, completed a connection to West Point, Georgia, thus connecting Opelika with Atlanta, Georgia. This line was the only direct rail route between New Orleans and the Eastern Seaboard. It rapidly became one of the primary trade lines for shipments of raw cotton from Southern plantations to the North. The Montgomery and West Point was soon joined by a rail connection to Columbus, Georgia, in 1855, and a connection to Birmingham, Alabama, in 1869. Almost overnight, Opelika became a regional hub for commerce.
Enroll in the Ideal Plumber Tech School near Opelika AL
Choosing the ideal plumber trade school will probably be the most important decision you will make to launch your new career. As we have discussed in this article, there are many things that you will need to examine and compare among the training programs you are considering. It’s a must that any plumber tech school that you are assessing includes a considerable amount of hands-on training. Classes should be smaller in size and every student should have their personal equipment to train with. Classroom teaching needs to offer a real-world frame of reference, and the curriculum should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Courses vary in duration and the type of credential provided, so you will need to ascertain what length of program and certificate or degree will best fulfill your needs. Each training program offers different possibilities for certification as well. Perhaps the best approach to research your short list of schools is to visit each campus and speak with the faculty and students. Invest some time to sit in on a few classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the school you pick is the right one for you. With the right training, effort and commitment, you can become a professional plumber in Opelika AL.
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