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How to Enroll in the Right Plumber Technical School near Bessemer Alabama

Bessemer Alabama plumbing contractor replacing sink faucetThe initial step to becoming a plumbing contractor or tradesman is finding a plumbing trade school near Bessemer AL. But with so many vocational schools to select from, just how do you undertake making certain that you enroll in the right one? Especially since there are a number of variables to evaluate. For instance, many potential students will commence by searching for schools that are close to their home. Once they have identified some that are within driving range, they will decide on the one with the cheapest tuition. While location and cost are important, they are not the only factors that must be examined. Also critical are the accreditation and reputations of the schools, as well as their job placement and graduation rates. These and additional qualifications should contribute toward your ultimate judgment when picking a plumber training school. We will talk about 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 offered.

What is 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 Certificate and Degree Options

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 Plumber Tech Schools

Bessemer Alabama plumbing contractor replacing water heater

When you have decided to obtain a certificate, diploma or degree, you can begin to narrow down your school options. Because there are numerous plumbing vocational and trade schools in the Bessemer AL region, it's essential to have a checklist of criteria that each program must satisfy. The first two that we discussed were location and the cost of tuition. And even though both qualifiers may be important when making your selection, there are other factors that must be considered as well. Following is a checklist of those added qualifiers that you will need to research prior to enrolling in a plumber technical school.

Is the Plumbing School Accredited?  Many plumbing technical programs have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They may earn Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, for example electrical technology. Make certain that the Bessemer AL school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping guarantee that you obtain a superior education, it may assist in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases not available for non-accredited programs. Also, many states require that the plumbing training program be accredited for it 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 considering is reputable is by checking that it’s properly licensed.  Licensing is typically 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 verify 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 of students who enroll in and complete the course. A lower completion rate could indicate that students were dissatisfied with the course and dropped out. It might also signify that the teachers were not competent to train the students. It's also important that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader list of alumni, which may mean 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 additionally that it has the network of contacts to assist grads acquire apprenticeships or employment in the Bessemer AL area.

Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored?  A large number of plumber vocational programs are taught in conjunction with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating trade and vocational programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of plumbing companies or labor unions. Find out if the schools you are comparing have working partnerships with local Bessemer AL plumbers or plumbing professionals. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by providing hands-on training, but it also supplies job opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the regional plumbing professional community.

Are there Modern Facilities?  Make sure that the campus 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 currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the master plumber you are working under regarding what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Bessemer AL plumbing company if they can give you some pointers.

Where is the School Located?  Unless you are willing to relocate, the school must be within driving distance of your Bessemer AL residence. 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 a couple of the classes so that you can see how large they are and experience the interaction between students and instructors. Talk with some of the students and get their feedback relating to class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak to some of the instructors and find out 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 programs you are reviewing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you are only able to go to classes at night or on weekends near Bessemer AL, check that the schools you are comparing offer those options. If you can only attend part-time, make certain that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Finally, find out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family emergencies.

Learn More About Bessemer Plumbing Trade Schools

Enroll in the Best Bessemer Plumber Training School

Picking the ideal plumber training program will probably be the most critical decision you will make to launch your new career. As we have addressed in this article, there are several things that you will need to evaluate and compare among the training programs you are considering. It's a must that any plumber training that you are reviewing includes a lot of hands-on instruction. Classes should be small in size and each student should have their own equipment to train with. Classroom education should offer a real-world frame of reference, and the course of study should be current and conform with industry standards. Courses differ in length and the type of credential provided, so you will need to determine what length of program and degree or certificate will best fulfill your needs. Every training program provides different options for certification also. Perhaps the best way to research your short list of schools is to visit each campus and speak with the faculty and students. Take the time to attend some classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the school you pick is the ideal one for you. With the right training, effort and dedication, you can become a professional plumber in Bessemer AL.