How to Choose the Right Plumbing Training School near Bessemer Alabama
The initial step to learning to be a plumbing contractor or tradesman is enrolling in a plumbing trade school near Bessemer AL. But with numerous vocational schools to pick from, just how do you tackle making sure that you enroll in the right one? Especially since there are a number of points to consider. For instance, some students will commence by looking for schools that are nearby their home. Once they have identified some that are within commuting range, they will select the one with the most affordable tuition. Even though location and cost are of importance, they are not the sole qualifications that need to be considered. Also critical are the accreditation and reputations of the schools, along with their graduation and job placement rates. These and additional qualifications should contribute toward your final decision when selecting a plumbing trade school. We will cover that checklist in greater detail later in this article. But to begin with, let's review a little bit about becoming a plumber and the educational options that are offered.
What is 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 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.
Plumbing Certificate and Degree ProgramsThere 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.
Points to Ask Plumbing Training Schools
Now that you have decided to earn a certificate, diploma or degree, you can begin to refine your training options. Considering that there are so many plumbing vocational and trade schools in the Bessemer AL area, it's important to have a checklist of qualifications that each school must meet. The first two that we mentioned were location and tuition expense. And although both qualifiers may be crucial when making your determination, there are additional variables that need to be taken into account as well. Following is a checklist of those additional qualifications that you will need to assess before selecting a plumber trade school.
Is the Plumbing School Accredited? Many plumbing technical schools have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They can earn Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, for instance electrical technology. Make sure that the Bessemer AL school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping make certain that you get an excellent education, it may help in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of states require that the plumbing training program 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 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 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 reviewing what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students who enroll in and finish the program. A low completion rate may indicate that students were dissatisfied with the program and dropped out. It could also indicate that the instructors were not competent to train the students. It's similarly essential that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader directory of alumni, which may produce more contacts for the school to employ 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 contacts to help students secure apprenticeships or employment in the Bessemer AL area.
Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored? Many plumber training 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 companies or trade unions. Find out if the schools you are considering have referring relationships with local Bessemer AL plumbers or plumbing specialists. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by providing hands-on training, but it also furnishes employment opportunities and helps to build relationships in the regional 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 with concerning what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Bessemer AL plumbing contracting company if they can give you some suggestions.
Where is the School Located? Unless you can relocate, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Bessemer AL residence. Take note that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides the added moving costs there might be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Are there Smaller Classes? It's desirable that you receive as much one-on-one training as possible, which can be challenging in bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a couple of the classes so that you can see how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and teachers. Talk to some of the students and get their opinions concerning class sizes and instruction. Last, talk with some of the instructors and learn what their level of experience is in Bessemer AL and what certifications or degrees they hold.
Is the Class Schedule Convenient? Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are assessing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Bessemer AL, check that the programs you are reviewing offer those options. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Choose the Right Bessemer Plumbing Training School
Selecting the best plumbing trade school will undoubtedly be the most critical decision you will make to launch your new career. As we have discussed in this article, there are several factors that you will need to evaluate and compare among the training programs you are considering. It's a prerequisite that any plumber training program that you are considering includes a lot of hands-on instruction. Classes should be small in size and each student must have their own equipment to train with. Classroom teaching should provide a real-world frame of reference, and the training program should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Programs differ in length and the kind of credential provided, so you will have to decide what length of program and credential will best serve your needs. Every training program provides different possibilities for certification also. Probably the best way to research your final list of schools is to visit each campus and speak with the students and faculty. Take the time to monitor some classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the school you decide on is the right one for you. With the right training, hard work and dedication, you can become a professional plumber in Bessemer AL.