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How to Enroll in the Best Plumbing Vocational School near Gilbert Arizona

Gilbert Arizona plumbing contractor installing kitchen sink faucetThe first step to becoming a plumbing contractor or tradesman is finding a plumbing trade school near Gilbert AZ. But with so many technical schools to pick from, just how do you undertake making certain that you enroll in the ideal one? Especially since there are a number of variables to evaluate. For example, many prospective students will start by searching for schools that are nearby their home. When they have identified several that are within commuting range, they will pick the one with the least expensive tuition. Although cost and location are of importance, they are not the sole factors that should be evaluated. Also critical are the reputations of the schools, their accreditation, as well as their job placement and graduation rates. These and other qualifications should contribute toward your ultimate judgment when selecting a plumber training school. We will discuss that checklist in greater detail later in this post. But to begin with, let's talk a little bit about becoming a plumber and the training options that are available.

What is a Plumber?

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

  • Apprentice. The majority of Gilbert 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 Gilbert 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 Gilbert 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 Technical Schools

Gilbert Arizona plumber installing hot water heater

Once you have decided to earn a diploma, certificate or degree, you can begin to narrow down your school options. Since there are so many plumbing vocational and trade schools in the Gilbert AZ area, it's important to have a checklist of qualifications that each program must satisfy. The initial 2 that we talked about were location and tuition expense. And even though both qualifiers may be crucial when making your determination, there are additional variables that need to be considered as well. Following is a checklist of those added qualifiers that you will need to analyze before choosing a plumber tech school.

Is the Plumbing School Accredited?  A large number of plumbing vocational schools have acquired 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. Verify that the Gilbert 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 guarantee that you obtain a quality education, it can help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. Additionally, many states mandate that the plumbing training course be accredited in order to qualify for licensing or certification.

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 don’t know, 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 Gilbert 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 percentage or portion of students who enroll in and complete the program. A low completion rate might signify that students were dissatisfied with the program and quit. It may also mean that the instructors were not qualified to train the students. It's similarly imperative that the schools have higher 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 utilize for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only validate that the school has a good reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of contacts to help students secure apprenticeships or employment in the Gilbert AZ area.

Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored?  Most 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 businesses or trade unions. Check if the schools you are reviewing have working relationships with local Gilbert AZ plumbers or plumbing professionals. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by providing practical training, but it also provides employment opportunities and helps to form relationships in the area plumbing professional community.

Are there Modern Facilities?  Make sure that the school facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are state-of-the-art and what you will be working with on the job. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the master plumber you are working with regarding what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Gilbert AZ plumbing company if they can give you some suggestions.

Where is the School Located?  Unless you can move, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Gilbert AZ residence. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there can be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.

Are there Smaller Classes?  It's desirable that you get as much personalized instruction as possible, which can be difficult in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor some of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and experience the interaction between students and instructors. Talk with a few of the students and get their opinions regarding class sizes and instruction. Last, talk with some of the teachers and learn what their level of experience is in Gilbert AZ and what certifications or degrees they have earned.

Is the Class Schedule Convenient?  Verify 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 Gilbert AZ, confirm that the programs you are looking at provide those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Additionally, ask what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family issues.

Find Out More About Gilbert Plumbing Trade Schools

Pick the Right Gilbert Plumber Trade School

Selecting the right plumber training program will undoubtedly be the most important decision you will make to launch your new trade. As we have discussed in this article, there are many things that you will need to examine and compare between the schools you are considering. It's a prerequisite that any plumber training program that you are reviewing includes a considerable amount of hands-on training. Classes need to be small in size and each student must have their personal equipment to train with. Classroom education should provide a real-world context, and the curriculum should be current and in-line with industry standards. Courses differ in duration and the type of credential offered, so you will have to determine what length of program and credential will best serve your needs. Every program provides different options for certification also. Probably the best approach to research your short list of schools is to go to each campus and talk with the faculty and students. Take the time to sit in on some classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the school you decide on is the right one for you. With the right training, hard work and commitment, you can become a professional plumber in Gilbert AZ.