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How to Select the Right Plumber Training Course near Bessemer Alabama

Bessemer Alabama plumbing contractor installing sink faucetThe first step to learning to be a plumbing tradesman or contractor is enrolling in a plumbing trade school near Bessemer AL. But with so many technical schools to choose from, just how do you go about making sure that you enroll in the best one? Particularly because there are so many variables to consider. For instance, many potential students will start by searching for schools that are nearby their home. After they have located some that are within commuting range, they will pick the one with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are important, they are not the sole qualifications that must be examined. Also critical are the accreditation and reputations of the schools, along with their job placement and graduation rates. These and additional qualifications should help mold your final decision when selecting a plumber trade school. We will address that checklist in greater detail later in this article. But to begin with, let's talk a little bit about becoming a plumber and the educational options that are available.

What is a Plumber?

Bessemer Alabama plumbing contractor adjusting sink pipe

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 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.

Points to Ask Plumber Trade Schools

Bessemer Alabama plumbing contractor replacing hot water heater

When you have decided to obtain a diploma, certificate or degree, you can begin to refine your training options. Because there are numerous plumbing trade and vocational schools in the Bessemer AL area, it's imperative to have a checklist of qualifications that each program must satisfy. The initial two that we discussed were location and tuition expense. And while both qualifiers may be important when making your decision, there are other factors that need to be considered as well. Following is a checklist of those additional qualifications that you will need to analyze before enrolling in a plumber technical school.

Is the Plumbing School Accredited?  Numerous plumbing vocational schools have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They may attain Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, for example electrical technology. Verify that the Bessemer AL program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping make certain that you receive a quality education, it can help in securing financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable for non-accredited programs. Also, many states mandate that the plumbing training course be accredited for it to qualify for certification or licensing.

Is the Plumbing School Licensed?  In addition to accreditation, another way of confirming that a vocational school you’re considering 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 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 looking at what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage or portion of students who enroll in and finish the course. A low completion rate might suggest that students were dissatisfied with the course and quit. It might also signify that the teachers were not competent to instruct 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 directory of graduates, which may result in more contacts for the school to employ for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only affirm that the school has a good reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of contacts to assist graduates secure apprenticeships or employment in the Bessemer AL area.

Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored?  Many plumber technical programs are taught in conjunction with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating trade and vocational schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of plumbing contractors or trade unions. Find out if the schools you are considering have working relationships with local Bessemer AL plumbers or plumbing contractors. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by providing practical training, but it also furnishes 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 instructed on are up-to-date and what you will be using on the job. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the master plumber you are working under regarding what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Bessemer AL plumbing company if they can provide some pointers.

Where is the School Located?  Unless you can 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, besides the added moving costs there can be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.

Are there Smaller Classes?  It's desirable that you get as much individualized training as possible, which can be challenging in larger classes. Ask if you can sit in on some of the classes so that you can see how big they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and teachers. Speak with several of the students and get their opinions regarding class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak with some of the instructors and find out 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 schools you are assessing are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you are only able to go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Bessemer AL, check that the schools you are looking at provide those choices. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Finally, check out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family issues.

Find Out More About Bessemer Plumbing Training Schools

Choose the Best Bessemer Plumbing Training School

Selecting the right plumbing training program will probably be the most critical decision you will make to launch your new career. As we have discussed in this article, there are a number of factors that you will need to evaluate and compare among the schools you are considering. It's a necessity that any plumbing training that you are considering includes a good deal of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be small in size and every student should have their personal equipment to train with. Classroom education needs to provide a real-world context, and the curriculum should be current and in-line with industry standards. Training programs vary in length and the kind of credential offered, so you will need to decide what length of program and certificate or degree will best fulfill your needs. Each training program provides different possibilities for certification also. Probably the best way to research your final list of schools is to go to each campus and speak with the teachers and students. Invest some time to monitor a few classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the training program you decide on is the ideal one for you. With the right training, effort and commitment, you can become a professional plumber in Bessemer AL.