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How to Enroll in the Best Plumber Training near Bessemer Alabama

Bessemer Alabama plumbing contractor installing kitchen sink faucetThe first step to becoming a plumbing tradesman or contractor is locating a plumbing trade school near Bessemer AL. But with numerous vocational schools to pick from, just how do you approach making sure that you enroll in the right one? Particularly since there are so many factors to consider. For example, many students will begin by looking for schools that are close to their residence. After they have identified several that are within driving distance, they will choose the one with the cheapest tuition. Even though cost and location are significant, they are not the sole things that should be considered. Also critical are the accreditation and reputations of the schools, as well as their graduation and job placement rates. These and other qualifications should influence your ultimate decision when choosing a plumber trade school. We will talk about that checklist in more detail later in this article. But first, let's review a little bit about becoming a plumber and the training options that are offered.

Becoming a Plumber

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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 Bessemer AL plumber will typically advance through three phases during their professional career.

  • Apprentice. The majority of Bessemer 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 Bessemer AL is to enroll in a plumbing technology program that will provide the comprehensive quality training needed to embark on this challenging career.

Plumber Degree and Certificate Programs

There are several educational options available near Bessemer 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.

Things to Ask Plumbing Trade Schools

Bessemer Alabama plumber replacing water heater

Once you have decided to earn a diploma, certificate or degree, you can start to narrow down your school options. Considering that there are so many plumbing vocational and trade schools in the Bessemer AL area, it's essential to have a checklist of criteria that each school must satisfy. The first 2 that we discussed were location and tuition expense. And while both qualifiers may be important when making your decision, there are other variables that need to be considered as well. Below is a checklist of those additional qualifications that you will need to analyze before enrolling in a plumber trade school.

Is the Plumbing School Accredited?  Numerous plumbing technical programs have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They may earn Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, for example electrical technology. Verify that the Bessemer AL school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping guarantee that you obtain a quality education, it can assist in securing financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable for non-accredited programs. Also, many states require that the plumbing training course be accredited in order to qualify for certification or licensing.

Is the Plumbing School Licensed?  In addition to accreditation, an additional way of confirming that a trade school you’re reiewing is reputable is by making sure 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 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 Bessemer 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 percentage of students who enroll in and finish the course. A lower completion rate might indicate that students were disappointed with the program and quit. It may also suggest that the instructors were not qualified to instruct the students. It's similarly important that the schools have higher 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 trade, but also that it has the network of contacts to assist graduates acquire apprenticeships or jobs in the Bessemer AL area.

Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored?  A large number of plumber training programs are taught together 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. Ask if the schools you are comparing have working partnerships with local Bessemer AL plumbers or plumbing contractors. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by supplying practical training, but it also provides employment opportunities and helps to form relationships in the regional plumbing professional community.

Are there Modern Facilities?  Make sure that the campus facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are state-of-the-art and what you will be using on the job. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the master plumber you are working under regarding what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Bessemer 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 driving distance of your Bessemer AL home. Take note that if you decide to enroll in 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 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 observe how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and teachers. Speak with some of the students and get their comments concerning class sizes and instruction. Last, speak with a few of the teachers and learn what their level of experience is in Bessemer AL and what certifications or degrees they hold.

Is the Class Schedule Convenient?  Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are evaluating are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Bessemer AL, confirm that the programs you are considering provide those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family emergencies.

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Pick the Right Bessemer Plumbing Vocational School

Choosing the right plumber trade school will probably be the most important decision you will make to launch your new profession. As we have addressed in this article, there are a number of factors that you will need to assess and compare among the training programs you are considering. It's a necessity that any plumbing training program that you are assessing includes a considerable amount of hands-on training. Classes should be smaller in size and every student must have their own equipment to train with. Classroom instruction needs to provide a real-world perspective, and the training program should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Training programs differ in duration and the kind of credential provided, so you will have to decide what length of program and credential will best satisfy your needs. Each training program offers different possibilities for certification as well. Probably the best approach to research your final list of schools is to check out each campus and talk with the faculty and students. Invest some time to monitor some 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 proper training, effort and commitment, you can become a professional plumber in Bessemer AL.