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How to Choose the Right Plumbing Technical School near Oro Valley Arizona

Oro Valley Arizona plumber replacing kitchen faucetThe first step to learning to be a plumbing tradesman or contractor is locating a plumbing trade school near Oro Valley AZ. But with numerous vocational schools to select from, just how do you go about making sure that you enroll in the ideal one? Particularly since there are so many points to consider. For example, many students will commence by searching for schools that are close to their home. After they have found several that are within driving distance, they will decide on the one with the least expensive tuition. Although cost and location are of importance, they are not the sole qualifications that should be evaluated. Also critical are the accreditation and reputations of the schools, in addition to their graduation and job placement rates. These and additional qualifiers should help mold your final decision when choosing a plumbing trade school. We will discuss that checklist in greater detail later in this article. But to begin with, let's talk a little bit about becoming a plumber and the educational choices 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 Oro Valley AZ plumber will typically advance through three phases during their professional career.

  • Apprentice. The majority of Oro Valley 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 Oro Valley AZ is to enroll in a plumbing technology program that will provide the comprehensive quality training needed to embark on this challenging career.

Plumber Degree and Certificate Options

There are several educational options available near Oro Valley 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 Plumber Trade Schools

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When you have decided to earn a certificate, diploma or degree, you can start to narrow down your training options. Since there are so many plumbing tech and trade schools in the Oro Valley AZ region, it's important to have a checklist of qualifications that each school must meet. The initial 2 that we talked about were location and tuition expense. And although both qualifiers may be critical when making your determination, there are additional variables that must be considered also. Following is a checklist of those added qualifiers that you will need to analyze before enrolling in a plumber trade school.

Is the Plumbing School Accredited?  A large number of plumbing vocational schools have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They may earn Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, for example electrical technology. Verify that the Oro Valley AZ school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping ensure that you get a quality education, it may help in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of states mandate 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 trade school you’re considering is reputable is by checking that it’s properly licensed.  Licensing is typically controlled and regulated 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 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 Oro Valley 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 complete the program. A low completion rate may suggest that students were unhappy with the course and quit. It could also signify that the teachers were not qualified to instruct the students. It's similarly imperative that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive directory of graduates, which may result in 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 an excellent reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of contacts to help students acquire apprenticeships or employment in the Oro Valley AZ area.

Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored?  A large number of plumber technical programs are taught together with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating vocational and technical schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of plumbing companies or trade unions. Ask if the schools you are considering have working relationships with local Oro Valley AZ plumbers or plumbing contractors. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by furnishing hands-on training, but it also provides job opportunities and helps to form relationships in the area plumbing professional community.

Are there Modern Facilities?  Make certain that the school facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are state-of-the-art and what you will be working with in the field. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the master plumber you are working with concerning what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Oro Valley AZ plumbing company if they can provide some pointers.

Where is the School Located?  Unless you are able to move, the school must be within commuting distance of your Oro Valley AZ home. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides the added moving costs there can be increased tuition fees 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 challenging in larger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a few of the classes so that you can see how large they are and experience the interaction between teachers and students. Speak to a few of the students and get their opinions regarding class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk with some of the teachers and learn what their level of experience is in Oro Valley AZ and what certifications or degrees they have earned.

Is the Class Schedule Convenient?  Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Oro Valley AZ, check that the programs you are considering offer those choices. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Additionally, ask what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family issues.

Learn More About Oro Valley Plumbing Vocational Schools

Pick the Best Oro Valley Plumber Trade School

Selecting the ideal plumber training program will undoubtedly be the most important decision you will make to begin your new career. As we have covered in this article, there are a number of factors that you will need to examine and compare among the schools you are reviewing. It's a prerequisite that any plumbing training program that you are evaluating includes a considerable amount of hands-on instruction. Classes should be small in size and every student should have their personal equipment to train with. Classroom instruction should offer a real-world frame of reference, and the training program should be current and conform with industry standards. Courses vary in length and the type of credential offered, so you will have to ascertain what length of program and degree or certificate will best serve your needs. Every training program provides unique possibilities for certification also. Perhaps The ideal way to research your short list of schools is to visit each campus and talk with the students and faculty. Invest some time to sit in on some classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the program you decide on is the right one for you. With the proper training, hard work and dedication, you can become a professional plumber in Oro Valley AZ.