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How to Choose the Best Plumber Tech School near Oro Valley Arizona

Oro Valley Arizona plumbing contractor installing kitchen sink faucetThe initial step to becoming a plumbing tradesman or contractor is enrolling in a plumbing trade school near Oro Valley AZ. But with numerous vocational schools to choose from, just how do you go about making certain that you enroll in the ideal one? Particularly since there are a number of variables to examine. For instance, many students will start by looking for schools that are close to their home. When they have identified several that are within driving distance, they will pick the one with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are of importance, they are not the only things that must be evaluated. Also critical are the accreditation and reputations of the schools, as well as their job placement and graduation rates. These and additional qualifiers should help mold your ultimate decision when choosing a plumber trade school. We will cover 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 options that are accessible.

What is a Plumber?

Oro Valley Arizona plumber adjusting sink 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 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.

Plumbing Degree and Certificate Programs

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.

Things to Ask Plumber Vocational Schools

Oro Valley Arizona plumbing contractor repairing hot water heater

Now that you have made a decision to earn a certificate, diploma or degree, you can begin to focus your training options. Considering that there are so many plumbing tech and trade schools in the Oro Valley AZ area, it's essential to have a checklist of criteria that each program must satisfy. The initial two that we discussed were location and tuition expense. And although both qualifiers may be important when making your selection, there are additional factors that need to be taken into account as well. Following is a checklist of those additional qualifiers that you will need to research before selecting a plumber tech school.

Is the Plumbing School Accredited?  A large number of plumbing technical programs have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They can acquire Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, such as electrical technology. Make certain that the Oro Valley AZ program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping guarantee that you obtain 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, a number of states require that the plumbing training program be accredited for it to qualify for licensing or certification.

Is the Plumbing School Licensed?  Along with accreditation, another 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 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 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 schools you are looking at what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and complete the course. A low completion rate may suggest that students were unhappy with the program and quit. It could also indicate that the instructors were not competent to instruct the students. It's also important that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive directory of graduates, which can produce more contacts for the school to employ for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only validate that the school has an excellent reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of contacts to assist grads acquire apprenticeships or employment in the Oro Valley AZ area.

Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored?  A large number of plumber trade programs are taught in conjunction with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating vocational and technical programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of plumbing companies or trade unions. Check if the schools you are reviewing have working relationships with local Oro Valley AZ plumbers or plumbing contractors. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable 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 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 already in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the master plumber you are working under concerning what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Oro Valley AZ plumbing contracting company if they can give you some pointers.

Where is the School Located?  Unless you are able to relocate, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Oro Valley AZ residence. Take note that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides the added moving costs there can be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.

Are there Smaller Classes?  It's desirable that you receive as much personalized training as possible, which can be challenging in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor a few of the classes so that you can see how big they are and experience the interaction between students and instructors. Speak with a few of the students and get their opinions concerning class sizes and instruction. Last, talk with some of the instructors 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?  Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Oro Valley AZ, check that the schools you are considering provide those options. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Also, check out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family responsibilities.

Find Out More About Oro Valley Plumber Tech Schools

Enroll in the Best Oro Valley Plumber Training School

Choosing the best plumber training program will probably be the most critical decision you will make to start your new career. As we have discussed 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 must that any plumbing tech school that you are evaluating includes a good deal of hands-on training. Classes should be smaller in size and each student must have their own equipment to train with. Classroom instruction should offer a real-world frame of reference, and the curriculum should be current and in-line with industry standards. Courses differ in length and the type of credential offered, so you will have to decide what length of program and credential will best satisfy your needs. Every training program offers different possibilities for certification as well. Perhaps the best means to research your short list of schools is to go to each campus and talk with the students and faculty. Take the time to attend some classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the program you pick is the ideal one for you. With the right training, hard work and dedication, you can become a professional plumber in Oro Valley AZ.