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How to Select the Best Plumbing Technical School near Flagstaff Arizona

Flagstaff Arizona plumber fixing kitchen sink faucetThe first step to becoming a plumbing contractor or tradesman is enrolling in a plumbing trade school near Flagstaff AZ. But with so many technical schools to pick from, just how do you tackle making sure that you enroll in the right one? Particularly because there are so many variables to evaluate. For example, some potential students will begin by searching for schools that are close to their home. After they have found some that are within commuting range, they will pick the one with the cheapest tuition. While location and cost are of importance, they are not the sole factors that must be evaluated. Also important are the accreditation and reputations of the schools, as well as their job placement and graduation rates. These and other qualifiers should contribute toward your final decision when picking a plumber trade school. We will discuss that checklist in more detail later in this article. But to begin with, let's talk a little bit about becoming a plumber and the instructional 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 Flagstaff AZ plumber will typically advance through three phases during their professional career.

  • Apprentice. The majority of Flagstaff AZ 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 Flagstaff AZ 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 Flagstaff AZ 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 Plumbing Training Schools

Flagstaff Arizona plumbing contractor replacing water heater

Now that you have decided to obtain a certificate, diploma or degree, you can start to narrow down your school options. Because there are so many plumbing tech and trade schools in the Flagstaff AZ area, it's essential to have a checklist of criteria that each program must meet. The first 2 that we discussed were location and tuition expense. And while both qualifiers may be crucial when making your decision, there are other variables that need to be taken into account as well. Below is a checklist of those added qualifiers that you will need to research before selecting a plumber technical school.

Is the Plumbing School Accredited?  A large number of plumbing technical programs have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They can acquire Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, for example electrical technology. Verify that the Flagstaff AZ program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting organization, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping guarantee that you obtain a superior education, it may assist in securing financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of states require that the plumbing training course be accredited for it to qualify for licensing or certification.

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 regulated and controlled by state agencies, such as the Arizona Department of Education.  If you’re not sure, 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 Flagstaff AZ 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 looking at 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 might indicate that students were unhappy with the course and quit. It might also signify that the teachers 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 graduates, which can mean more contacts for the school to use 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 field, but additionally that it has the network of contacts to help grads secure apprenticeships or jobs in the Flagstaff AZ area.

Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored?  A large number of plumber training programs are taught together with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating vocational and trade programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of plumbing companies or labor unions. Check if the schools you are reviewing have working partnerships with local Flagstaff AZ plumbers or plumbing companies. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by supplying practical training, but it also furnishes employment opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the regional plumbing professional community.

Are there Modern Facilities?  Make certain that the school facilities and the tools 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, check with the master plumber you are working under regarding what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Flagstaff AZ plumbing company if they can give you some suggestions.

Where is the School Located?  Unless you can relocate, the school must be within commuting distance of your Flagstaff AZ home. Take note that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there can be increased tuition charges compared to in-state residents.

Are there Smaller Classes?  It's important that you receive as much personalized instruction as possible, which can be difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a few of the classes so that you can see how big they are and witness first hand the interaction between teachers and students. Talk with some of the students and get their opinions concerning class sizes and instruction. Last, speak to some of the teachers and learn what their level of experience is in Flagstaff AZ and what certifications or degrees they hold.

Is the Class Schedule Convenient?  Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are assessing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Flagstaff AZ, verify that the programs you are considering provide those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family responsibilities.

Learn More About Flagstaff Plumbing Tech Schools

Choose the Right Flagstaff Plumber Trade School

Selecting the best plumber trade school will probably be the most important decision you will make to begin your new trade. As we have covered in this article, there are a number of things that you will need to assess and compare among the schools you are considering. It's a prerequisite that any plumber training program that you are reviewing 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 needs to provide a real-world frame of reference, and the training program should be current and conform with industry standards. Programs vary in duration and the kind of credential offered, so you will have to decide what length of program and degree or certificate will best serve your needs. Each training program provides unique options for certification as well. Probably The ideal way to research your final list of schools is to check out each campus and talk with the teachers and students. Take the time to sit in on a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the school you choose is the right one for you. With the right training, effort and dedication, you can become a professional plumber in Flagstaff AZ.