How to Find the Right Plumbing Vocational School near Bessemer Alabama
The initial step to learning to be a plumbing tradesman or contractor is locating a plumbing trade school near Bessemer AL. But with so many vocational schools to choose from, just how do you tackle making certain that you enroll in the best one? Especially because there are so many variables to examine. For instance, some students will commence by searching for schools that are close to their home. Once they have identified a few that are within commuting range, they will decide on the one with the cheapest tuition. While cost and location are important, they are not the only things that need to be considered. Also critical are the reputations of the schools, their accreditation, along with their graduation and job placement rates. These and additional qualifiers should help mold your ultimate decision when selecting a plumber training 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 instructional options that are accessible.
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.
Plumber Degree and Certificate OptionsThere 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 Vocational Schools
When you have made a decision to obtain a diploma, certificate or degree, you can start to refine your training options. Because there are numerous plumbing vocational and trade schools in the Bessemer AL region, it's imperative to have a checklist of qualifications that each school must meet. The first 2 that we mentioned were location and tuition expense. And although both qualifiers may be critical when making your selection, there are other variables that need to be considered also. Below is a checklist of those added qualifications that you will need to assess before selecting a plumber tech school.
Is the Plumbing School Accredited? A large number of plumbing trade schools have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They can attain Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, for example electrical technology. Confirm that the Bessemer AL school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting agency, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping ensure that you acquire an excellent education, it may help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are frequently unavailable for non-accredited programs. Furthermore, some states require that the plumbing training course be accredited in order to be approved for certification or licensing.
Is the Plumbing School Licensed? Along with accreditation, another way of determining if a trade school you’re reiewing is reputable is by making sure that it’s properly licensed. Licensing is typically controlled and regulated by state agencies, such as the Alabama Department of Education. If you don’t know, 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 schools you are looking at what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage or portion of students who enroll in and complete the program. A low completion rate may suggest that students were unhappy with the program and dropped out. It could also mean that the instructors were not qualified to train the students. It's similarly essential that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader directory of alumni, which may mean more contacts for the school to utilize for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only validate that the school has a good reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of contacts to help students secure apprenticeships or jobs in the Bessemer AL area.
Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored? Most plumber trade programs are taught in conjunction with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating vocational and technical schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of plumbing businesses or trade unions. Find out if the schools you are considering have working partnerships with local Bessemer AL plumbers or plumbing specialists. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by furnishing practical training, but it also provides job opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the local plumbing professional community.
Are there Modern Facilities? Make sure that the school facilities and the tools that you will be instructed on are up-to-date and what you will be using in the field. If you are already 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 provide some pointers.
Where is the School Located? Unless you are willing to relocate, the school must be within commuting distance of your Bessemer AL residence. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there may 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 difficult in larger classes. Ask if you can sit in on some of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and experience the interaction between students and instructors. Speak with some of the students and get their opinions regarding class sizes and instruction. Last, talk with a few of the instructors and learn what their level of experience is in Bessemer AL and what certifications or degrees they have earned.
Is the Class Schedule Convenient? Make sure that the class schedules for the schools you are assessing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Bessemer AL, verify that the programs you are comparing offer those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family emergencies.
Choose the Right Bessemer Plumber Trade School
Choosing the best plumbing trade school will probably be the most critical decision you will make to begin your new career. As we have covered in this article, there are several things that you will need to evaluate and compare among the schools you are looking at. It's a necessity that any plumber training program that you are assessing includes a considerable amount of hands-on training. Classes should be small in size and each student should have their personal equipment to train with. Classroom teaching should offer a real-world frame of reference, and the training program should be current and in-line with industry standards. Programs differ in length and the type of credential offered, so you will need to decide what length of program and degree or certificate will best satisfy your needs. Each training program offers different options for certification also. Perhaps the best means to research your short list of schools is to go to each campus and talk with the teachers and students. Invest some time to sit in on some classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the school you select is the best one for you. With the right training, effort and dedication, you can become a professional plumber in Bessemer AL.