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How to Enroll in the Right Plumbing Tech School near Florence Arizona

Florence Arizona plumber fixing sink faucetThe first step to becoming a plumbing contractor or tradesman is locating a plumbing trade school near Florence AZ. But with so many technical schools to choose from, just how do you tackle making certain that you enroll in the best one? Especially because there are a number of points to consider. For instance, many prospective students will commence by looking for schools that are close to their residence. After they have identified several that are within driving range, they will select the one with the lowest tuition. While location and cost are of importance, they are not the sole factors that need to be evaluated. Also critical are the accreditation and reputations of the schools, in addition to their job placement and graduation rates. These and additional qualifiers should influence your ultimate decision when choosing a plumbing trade school. We will address that checklist in more detail later in this article. But to begin with, let's review a little bit about becoming a plumber and the training choices that are available.

Becoming a Plumber

Florence Arizona plumber 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 Florence AZ plumber will typically advance through three phases during their professional career.

  • Apprentice. The majority of Florence 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 Florence 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 Programs

There are several educational options available near Florence 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.

Points to Ask Plumbing Vocational Schools

Florence Arizona plumber replacing hot water heater

When you have decided to obtain a diploma, certificate or degree, you can begin to focus your school options. Considering that there are so many plumbing tech and trade schools in the Florence AZ region, it's essential to have a checklist of criteria that each program must meet. The first two that we mentioned were location and tuition expense. And while both qualifiers may be important when making your selection, there are additional variables that need to be taken into account also. Following is a checklist of those additional qualifications that you will need to analyze prior to selecting a plumber vocational school.

Is the Plumbing School Accredited?  A large number of plumbing technical programs have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They may receive Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, for example electrical technology. Make certain that the Florence AZ program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping ensure that you receive a superior education, it may assist in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases not available for non-accredited programs. Furthermore, some states mandate that the plumbing training program be accredited in order to qualify for certification or licensing.

Is the Plumbing School Licensed?  Along with accreditation, another way of confirming that a vocational 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 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 Florence 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 schools 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 could signify that students were disappointed with the program and quit. It could also mean that the teachers were not competent to train the students. It's also important that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader directory of graduates, which may produce more contacts for the school to utilize for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only affirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of contacts to assist students acquire apprenticeships or jobs in the Florence AZ area.

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

Are there Modern Facilities?  Make sure that the campus facilities and the tools that you will be trained on are state-of-the-art and what you will be working with on the job. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the master plumber you are working under concerning what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Florence AZ plumbing contracting company if they can give you some suggestions.

Where is the School Located?  Unless you can relocate, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Florence AZ residence. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there might be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.

Are there Smaller Classes?  It's important that you receive as much one-on-one training as possible, which can be difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor 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 to some of the students and get their comments relating to class sizes and instruction. Last, talk to some of the instructors and find out what their level of experience is in Florence AZ and what degrees or certifications they hold.

Is the Class Schedule Convenient?  Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are evaluating are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you are only able to go to classes at night or on weekends near Florence AZ, check that the programs you are comparing provide those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Finally, ask what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family issues.

Find Out More About Florence Plumbing Tech Schools

Enroll in the Best Florence Plumber Vocational School

Selecting the ideal plumber training program will undoubtedly be the most critical decision you will make to launch your new career. As we have addressed in this article, there are many things that you will need to evaluate and compare between the training programs you are considering. It's a prerequisite that any plumbing training that you are reviewing includes a considerable amount of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be small in size and each student must have their own equipment to train with. Classroom teaching needs to offer a real-world frame of reference, and the training program should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Courses differ in duration and the type of credential provided, so you will need to decide what length of program and degree or certificate will best satisfy your needs. Every program offers different options for certification as well. Perhaps the best approach to research your short list of schools is to go to each campus and talk with the students and faculty. Invest some time to attend some classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain 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 Florence AZ.