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How to Select the Best Plumber School near Bessemer Alabama

Bessemer Alabama plumbing contractor repairing kitchen sink faucetThe first step to learning to be a plumbing tradesman or contractor is finding a plumbing trade school near Bessemer AL. But with numerous technical schools to pick from, just how do you go about making sure that you enroll in the best one? Particularly because there are so many factors to examine. For instance, many potential students will start by searching for schools that are close to their residence. When they have located a few that are within commuting distance, they will select the one with the least expensive tuition. While location and cost 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 job placement and graduation rates. These and additional qualifiers should contribute toward your final judgment when picking a plumbing 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 accessible.

What is a Plumber?

Bessemer Alabama plumbing contractor repairing water 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.

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.

Points to Ask Plumbing Technical Schools

Bessemer Alabama plumbing contractor installing hot water heater

When you have decided to obtain a diploma, certificate or degree, you can begin to refine your training options. Since there are numerous plumbing vocational and trade schools in the Bessemer AL region, it's important to have a checklist of criteria that each program must satisfy. The initial 2 that we mentioned were location and the cost of tuition. And even though both qualifiers may be critical when making your determination, there are additional factors that need to be taken into account also. Following is a checklist of those added qualifications that you will need to assess prior to enrolling in a plumber technical school.

Is the Plumbing School Accredited?  Many plumbing vocational schools have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They may earn Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, such as electrical technology. Make certain that the Bessemer AL program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping ensure that you obtain an excellent education, it may help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases not available for non-accredited schools. Also, some states mandate that the plumbing training program be accredited for it to be approved for certification or licensing.

Is the Plumbing School Licensed?  In addition to accreditation, another way of determining if a vocational 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 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 training programs you are considering what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students who enroll in and finish the course. A lower completion rate may signify that students were disappointed with the course and dropped out. It could also mean that the instructors 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 broader directory of alumni, which may result in more contacts for the school to employ for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only affirm that the school has a good reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of contacts to help grads obtain apprenticeships or jobs in the Bessemer AL area.

Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored?  Many plumber vocational programs are taught in conjunction with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating trade and technical programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of plumbing contractors or labor unions. Ask if the schools you are comparing have working partnerships with local Bessemer AL plumbers or plumbing companies. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by providing hands-on training, but it also provides employment opportunities and helps to build relationships in the area plumbing professional community.

Are there Modern Facilities?  Make sure that the school facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are state-of-the-art and what you will be working with in the field. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, check 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 provide some tips.

Where is the School Located?  Unless you are willing to relocate, the school must be within driving distance of your Bessemer AL home. Take note that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there may be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.

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

Is the Class Schedule Convenient?  Confirm that the class schedules for the schools you are assessing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you are only able to go to classes at night or on weekends near Bessemer AL, confirm that the schools you are reviewing provide those choices. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family emergencies.

Learn More About Bessemer Plumber Trade Schools

Pick the Right Bessemer Plumbing Training School

Picking the ideal plumber training program will probably be the most important decision you will make to launch your new career. As we have discussed in this article, there are many things that you will need to examine and compare between the schools you are looking at. It's a must that any plumbing training program that you are reviewing includes a good deal of hands-on training. Classes should be small in size and each student should have their personal equipment to train with. Classroom instruction needs to offer a real-world context, and the course of study should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Programs vary in duration and the kind of credential offered, so you will have to determine what length of program and certificate or degree will best serve your needs. Each program provides unique options for certification as well. Perhaps the best way to research your final list of schools is to go to each campus and talk with the teachers and students. Invest some time to attend a few classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the school you pick is the best one for you. With the proper training, effort and dedication, you can become a professional plumber in Bessemer AL.