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How to Select the Best Plumber School near Bessemer Alabama

Bessemer Alabama plumbing contractor fixing sink faucetThe first step to becoming a plumbing contractor or tradesman is finding a plumbing trade school near Bessemer AL. But with numerous vocational schools to choose from, just how do you tackle making sure that you enroll in the best one? Especially because there are so many points to examine. For example, some prospective students will commence by looking for schools that are close to their residence. After they have identified a few that are within driving distance, they will select the one with the most affordable tuition. While location and cost are of importance, they are not the only qualifications that should be evaluated. Also important are the accreditation and reputations of the schools, in addition to their job placement and graduation rates. These and other qualifications should influence your final decision when selecting a plumber training school. We will address that checklist in more detail later in this post. But first, let's review a little bit about becoming a plumber and the instructional 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.

Questions to Ask Plumber Technical Schools

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Now that 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 tech and trade schools in the Bessemer AL region, it's essential to have a checklist of criteria that each program must meet. The first 2 that we mentioned were location and the cost of tuition. And even though both qualifiers may be important when making your selection, there are additional variables that must be considered also. Below is a checklist of those added qualifications that you will need to research before choosing a plumber vocational school.

Is the Plumbing School Accredited?  A large number of plumbing vocational schools have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They may attain Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, for instance electrical technology. Make certain that the Bessemer AL program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping make certain that you get a quality education, it can assist in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited programs. Also, many states mandate that the plumbing training program be accredited in order to qualify for licensing or certification.

Is the Plumbing School Licensed?  In addition to accreditation, another way of determining if a trade school you’re reiewing is reputable is by checking that it’s properly licensed.  Licensing is usually 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 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 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 might suggest that students were dissatisfied with the program and quit. It could also indicate that the instructors were not qualified to instruct the students. It's similarly imperative that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive list of alumni, which can mean more contacts for the school to use for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only affirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of contacts to assist grads secure apprenticeships or jobs in the Bessemer AL area.

Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored?  Numerous plumber trade programs are taught along with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating vocational and trade schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of plumbing contractors or labor unions. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have working relationships with local Bessemer AL plumbers or plumbing companies. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by furnishing practical training, but it also supplies job opportunities and helps to form relationships in the regional plumbing professional community.

Are there Modern Facilities?  Make certain that the school facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are up-to-date and what you will be using on the job. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the master plumber you are working under regarding what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Bessemer AL plumbing company if they can give you some pointers.

Where is the School Located?  Unless you are willing to move, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Bessemer AL residence. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there may be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.

Are there Smaller Classes?  It's desirable that you receive as much individualized instruction as possible, which can be challenging in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor a few of the classes so that you can see how big they are and experience the interaction between instructors and students. Speak to some of the students and get their comments regarding 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 have earned.

Is the Class Schedule Convenient?  Confirm that the class schedules for the schools you are assessing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you are only able to go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Bessemer AL, confirm that the schools you are considering provide those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain 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, sickness or family emergencies.

Learn More About Bessemer Plumbing Training Schools

Enroll in the Right Bessemer Plumbing Vocational School

Selecting the ideal plumber trade school will undoubtedly be the most critical decision you will make to begin your new trade. As we have addressed in this article, there are many factors that you will need to examine and compare between the training programs you are reviewing. It's a necessity that any plumber training that you are reviewing includes a good deal of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be smaller in size and every student should have their personal equipment to train with. Classroom teaching should offer a real-world perspective, and the curriculum should be current and conform with industry standards. Courses differ in length and the kind of credential provided, so you will have to determine what length of program and credential will best satisfy your needs. Each training program offers different possibilities for certification also. Probably The ideal approach to research your short list of schools is to visit each campus and talk with the faculty and students. Take the time to monitor a few 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 right training, hard work and commitment, you can become a professional plumber in Bessemer AL.