How to Find the Right Plumbing Tech School near Flagstaff Arizona
The first step to becoming a plumbing contractor or tradesman is locating a plumbing trade school near Flagstaff AZ. But with so many technical schools to choose from, just how do you undertake making sure that you enroll in the right one? Especially because there are so many factors to evaluate. For example, some potential students will begin by searching for schools that are nearby their home. Once they have located several that are within driving range, they will decide on the one with the least expensive tuition. Although cost and location are important, they are not the sole things that should be evaluated. Also critical are the accreditation and reputations of the schools, as well as their graduation and job placement rates. These and other qualifications should contribute toward your ultimate decision when selecting a plumbing trade school. We will discuss 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 educational 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 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.
Plumber Certificate and Degree ProgramsThere 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.
Questions to Ask Plumbing Tech Schools
When you have decided to earn a certificate, diploma or degree, you can start to refine your school options. Because there are numerous plumbing tech and trade schools in the Flagstaff AZ area, it's imperative to have a checklist of criteria that each school must meet. The initial two that we mentioned were location and tuition expense. And even though both qualifiers may be critical when making your determination, there are additional factors that need to be considered as well. Below is a checklist of those added qualifiers that you will need to assess before choosing a plumber vocational school.
Is the Plumbing School Accredited? Numerous plumbing vocational schools have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They may acquire Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, such as electrical technology. Verify that the Flagstaff AZ school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting organization, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping make certain that you receive a superior education, it may assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited schools. Additionally, some states mandate that the plumbing training course be accredited for it to be approved for licensing or certification.
Is the Plumbing School Licensed? Along with accreditation, an additional way of determining if a vocational school you’re reiewing is reputable is by checking that it’s properly licensed. Licensing is typically 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 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 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 reviewing what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students who enroll in and complete the program. A lower completion rate may indicate that students were dissatisfied with the course and quit. It might also mean that the instructors were not competent to instruct the students. It's similarly imperative that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader list of graduates, which can mean 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 field, but also that it has the network of contacts to help students secure apprenticeships or employment in the Flagstaff AZ area.
Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored? Most plumber vocational programs are taught together with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating vocational and trade schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of plumbing contractors or labor unions. Check if the schools you are reviewing have working relationships with local Flagstaff AZ plumbers or plumbing professionals. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by providing hands-on training, but it also supplies job opportunities and helps to build 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 currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the master plumber you are working under regarding what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Flagstaff AZ plumbing contractor if they can provide some suggestions.
Where is the School Located? Unless you can relocate, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Flagstaff AZ home. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation 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 sit in on a few of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and experience the interaction between teachers and students. Talk to a few of the students and get their opinions regarding class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk to a few of the instructors and find out what their level of experience is in Flagstaff AZ and what certifications or degrees they hold.
Is the Class Schedule Convenient? Confirm that the class schedules for the schools you are evaluating are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Flagstaff AZ, check that the programs you are reviewing offer those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Finally, find out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Right Flagstaff Plumbing Trade School
Picking the right plumbing training program will undoubtedly be the most critical decision you will make to begin your new profession. 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 looking at. It's a necessity that any plumbing tech school that you are evaluating includes a good deal of hands-on training. Classes need to be small in size and every student must have their personal equipment to train with. Classroom instruction needs to offer a real-world perspective, and the training program should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Courses differ in length and the kind of credential offered, so you will need to ascertain what length of program and certificate or degree will best serve your needs. Every program offers unique options for certification also. Probably the best way to research your final list of schools is to check out each campus and speak with the students and instructors. Take the time to attend a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the training program you choose is the right one for you. With the right training, hard work and commitment, you can become a professional plumber in Flagstaff AZ.