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How to Find the Right Plumber Vocational School near Flagstaff Arizona

Flagstaff Arizona plumber replacing sink faucetThe initial step to learning to be a plumbing tradesman or contractor is finding a plumbing trade school near Flagstaff AZ. But with numerous technical schools to choose from, just how do you go about making certain that you enroll in the right one? Particularly because there are so many variables to examine. For example, some students will commence by looking for schools that are close to their residence. Once they have found a few that are within commuting range, they will select the one with the cheapest tuition. Although cost and location are important, they are not the only qualifications that should be examined. Also important are the reputations of the schools, their accreditation, as well as their graduation and job placement rates. These and additional qualifiers should influence your final judgment when selecting a plumber trade school. We will discuss that checklist in more detail later in this post. But first, let's review a little bit about becoming a plumber and the training options that are available.

Becoming 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.

Plumber Certificate and Degree Options

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 Plumber Tech Schools

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Now that you have made a decision to obtain a certificate, diploma or degree, you can begin to narrow down your school options. Considering that there are numerous plumbing vocational and trade schools in the Flagstaff AZ area, it's important to have a checklist of qualifications that each school must satisfy. The first 2 that we talked about were location and the cost of tuition. And while both qualifiers may be important when making your selection, there are additional factors that need to be considered as well. Below is a checklist of those added qualifiers that you will need to research before selecting a plumber vocational school.

Is the Plumbing School Accredited?  A large number of plumbing trade programs have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They can receive Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, such as electrical technology. Verify that the Flagstaff AZ program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting organization, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping guarantee that you acquire a superior education, it may assist in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases not available for non-accredited programs. Additionally, some states mandate that the plumbing training course be accredited for it to qualify for certification or licensing.

Is the Plumbing School Licensed?  Along with accreditation, an additional way of determining if a vocational school you’re considering is reputable is by checking 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 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 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 considering what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and complete the program. A lower completion rate could indicate that students were disappointed with the program and quit. It may also indicate that the instructors were not qualified to train the students. It's also imperative that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader list of graduates, which can result in more contacts for the school to use for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only confirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of contacts to help grads obtain apprenticeships or jobs in the Flagstaff AZ area.

Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored?  Many plumber vocational programs are taught in conjunction with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating technical and vocational 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 professionals. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by furnishing hands-on training, but it also furnishes employment opportunities and helps to form relationships in the area plumbing professional community.

Are there Modern Facilities?  Make certain that the campus facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are state-of-the-art and what you will be using in the field. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the master plumber you are working under regarding what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Flagstaff AZ plumbing company if they can provide some suggestions.

Where is the School Located?  Unless you are willing to relocate, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Flagstaff AZ home. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there may be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.

Are there Smaller Classes?  It's important that you receive as much individualized instruction 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 observe how large they are and experience the interaction between teachers and students. Speak to some of the students and get their feedback relating to class sizes and instruction. Last, talk with some of the teachers and learn what their level of experience is in Flagstaff AZ and what certifications or degrees they have earned.

Is the Class Schedule Convenient?  Make sure that the class schedules for the schools you are evaluating are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Flagstaff AZ, check that the schools you are reviewing provide those choices. If you can only attend part-time, be sure 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 issues.

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Choose the Best Flagstaff Plumbing Vocational School

Picking the right plumbing trade school will probably be the most important decision you will make to begin your new career. As we have discussed in this article, there are many factors that you will need to examine and compare between the training programs you are looking at. It's a prerequisite that any plumber training that you are examining includes a lot of hands-on instruction. Classes should be small in size and every student should have their personal equipment to train with. Classroom education needs to offer a real-world perspective, and the course of study should be current and conform with industry standards. Courses differ in length and the kind of credential provided, so you will need to determine what length of program and degree or certificate will best serve your needs. Each training program offers unique options for certification as well. Perhaps The ideal way to research your short list of schools is to visit each campus and talk with the faculty and students. Invest some time to sit in on a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the program you decide on is the right one for you. With the right training, effort and commitment, you can become a professional plumber in Flagstaff AZ.