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How to Pick the Right Plumbing Trade School near Prescott Valley Arizona

Prescott Valley Arizona plumber replacing sink faucetThe first step to becoming a plumbing tradesman or contractor is locating a plumbing trade school near Prescott Valley AZ. But with so many vocational schools to pick from, just how do you tackle making sure that you enroll in the ideal one? Particularly since there are so many factors to evaluate. For example, many students will begin by searching for schools that are close to their residence. After they have located some that are within driving distance, they will select the one with the most affordable tuition. Even though location and cost are of importance, they are not the sole things that must be examined. Also important are the reputations of the schools, their accreditation, as well as their job placement and graduation rates. These and additional qualifications should help mold your final judgment when choosing a plumber trade school. We will cover that checklist in greater detail later in this post. But to begin with, let's review 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 Prescott Valley AZ plumber will typically advance through three phases during their professional career.

  • Apprentice. The majority of Prescott 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 Prescott 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 Certificate and Degree Options

There are several educational options available near Prescott 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 Trade Schools

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Once you have made a decision to earn a diploma, certificate or degree, you can start to narrow down your training options. Because there are numerous plumbing vocational and trade schools in the Prescott Valley AZ area, it's imperative to have a checklist of criteria that each school must satisfy. The first two that we talked about were location and tuition expense. And while both qualifiers may be critical when making your decision, there are additional variables that need to be considered as well. Following is a checklist of those added qualifiers that you will need to research prior to enrolling in a plumber trade school.

Is the Plumbing School Accredited?  Many 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 an individual program, such as electrical technology. Verify that the Prescott Valley AZ school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping make certain that you obtain an excellent education, it can assist in securing financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases not available for non-accredited programs. Also, a number of states require that the plumbing training program be accredited in order to be approved for licensing or certification.

Is the Plumbing School Licensed?  Along with accreditation, an additional way of determining if a vocational school you’re reiewing 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’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 Prescott 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 finish the course. A low completion rate may suggest that students were unhappy with the program and dropped out. It might also signify that the instructors were not competent to train the students. It's similarly important that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive list of graduates, which may mean more contacts for the school to utilize for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only affirm that the school has a good reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of contacts to assist grads acquire apprenticeships or jobs in the Prescott Valley AZ area.

Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored?  Many plumber technical programs are taught together with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating vocational and trade programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of plumbing businesses or trade unions. Check if the schools you are considering have working relationships with local Prescott Valley AZ plumbers or plumbing professionals. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by furnishing hands-on training, but it also furnishes employment opportunities and helps to build relationships in the regional plumbing professional community.

Are there Modern Facilities?  Make sure that the school facilities and the tools that you will be instructed on are up-to-date and what you will be working with in the field. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the master plumber you are working under concerning what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Prescott Valley AZ plumbing contracting company if they can provide some suggestions.

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

Are there Smaller Classes?  It's important that you get as much personalized instruction as possible, which can be challenging in larger classes. Ask if you can sit in on some of the classes so that you can see how large they are and experience the interaction between students and instructors. Talk with several of the students and get their comments regarding class sizes and instruction. Last, speak to some of the instructors and find out what their level of experience is in Prescott Valley AZ and what degrees or certifications they have earned.

Is the Class Schedule Convenient?  Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you are only able to go to classes at night or on weekends near Prescott Valley AZ, confirm that the schools you are looking at provide those options. If you can only attend part-time, be sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family issues.

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Pick the Right Prescott Valley Plumbing Training School

Selecting the right plumbing trade school will undoubtedly be the most critical decision you will make to launch your new trade. As we have discussed in this article, there are a number of things that you will need to evaluate and compare among the training programs you are reviewing. It's a must that any plumber tech school that you are evaluating includes a considerable amount of hands-on training. Classes should be small in size and every student should have their own equipment to train with. Classroom teaching should offer a real-world frame of reference, and the curriculum should be current and conform with industry standards. Training programs differ in length and the kind of credential offered, so you will need to decide what length of program and certificate or degree will best satisfy your needs. Each program provides different options for certification also. Perhaps the best approach to research your short list of schools is to check out each campus and talk with the students and instructors. Take the time to monitor some classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the school you pick is the best one for you. With the right training, effort and dedication, you can become a professional plumber in Prescott Valley AZ.