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How to Choose the Right Plumbing Vocational School near Phoenix Arizona

Phoenix Arizona plumber installing kitchen sink faucetThe initial step to learning to be a plumbing contractor or tradesman is locating a plumbing trade school near Phoenix AZ. But with so many technical schools to select from, just how do you tackle making certain that you enroll in the best one? Especially since there are a number of factors to examine. For example, some students will start by searching for schools that are nearby their home. When they have located several that are within driving distance, they will choose the one with the lowest tuition. While location and cost are significant, they are not the only things that must be examined. Also important are the accreditation and reputations of the schools, along with their graduation and job placement rates. These and additional qualifications should influence your ultimate decision when selecting a plumbing trade school. We will cover 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 training options that are offered.

What is a Plumber?

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

  • Apprentice. The majority of Phoenix 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 Phoenix 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 Phoenix 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 Plumbing Vocational Schools

Phoenix Arizona plumbing contractor installing hot water heater

When you have made a decision to earn 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 Phoenix AZ area, it's essential to have a checklist of qualifications that each school must satisfy. The first 2 that we discussed were location and tuition expense. And even though both qualifiers may be critical when making your decision, there are other variables that need to be taken into account also. Following is a checklist of those additional qualifications that you will need to research before choosing a plumber trade school.

Is the Plumbing School Accredited?  A large number of plumbing trade programs have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They may attain Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, for instance electrical technology. Make certain that the Phoenix AZ program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting organization, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping guarantee that you obtain a quality education, it may help in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently unavailable for non-accredited programs. Also, many states require that the plumbing training course be accredited in order to qualify for certification or licensing.

Is the Plumbing School Licensed?  In addition to accreditation, an additional way of determining if a trade school you’re reiewing is reputable is by making sure 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 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 Phoenix 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 or portion of students who enroll in and finish the course. A lower completion rate may suggest that students were disappointed 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 more extensive list of alumni, which can produce more contacts for the school to utilize for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only confirm that the school has a good reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of contacts to help graduates obtain apprenticeships or jobs in the Phoenix AZ area.

Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored?  A large number of plumber training programs are taught in conjunction with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating vocational and trade schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of plumbing businesses or trade unions. Find out if the schools you are comparing have working relationships with local Phoenix AZ plumbers or plumbing companies. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by furnishing practical training, but it also furnishes employment opportunities and helps to form relationships in the regional plumbing professional community.

Are there Modern Facilities?  Make certain that the campus facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are up-to-date and what you will be working with on the job. If you are presently 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 Phoenix AZ plumbing company if they can provide some pointers.

Where is the School Located?  Unless you are willing to move, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Phoenix AZ home. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there might be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.

Are there Smaller Classes?  It's important that you receive as much personalized instruction as possible, which can be difficult in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor a couple of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and teachers. Talk with some of the students and get their opinions regarding class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak with a few of the instructors and find out what their level of experience is in Phoenix 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 attend classes at night or on weekends near Phoenix AZ, check that the schools you are reviewing provide those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Finally, ask what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family responsibilities.

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Pick the Right Phoenix Plumbing Training School

Selecting the right plumber trade school will undoubtedly be the most important decision you will make to begin your new trade. As we have addressed in this article, there are many things that you will need to evaluate and compare among the training programs you are looking at. It's a necessity that any plumber training that you are considering includes a good deal of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be smaller in size and every student should have their own equipment to train with. Classroom teaching should offer a real-world context, and the course of study should be current and conform with industry standards. Courses vary in duration and the type of credential offered, so you will need to decide what length of program and certificate or degree will best fulfill your needs. Each program provides unique possibilities for certification as well. Perhaps The ideal approach to research your final list of schools is to check out each campus and speak with the students and faculty. Take the time to monitor a few classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the training program you decide on is the best one for you. With the right training, hard work and commitment, you can become a professional plumber in Phoenix AZ.