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How to Select the Best Plumbing Vocational School near Prescott Arizona

Prescott Arizona plumber installing sink faucetThe initial step to becoming a plumbing tradesman or contractor is finding a plumbing trade school near Prescott AZ. But with so many technical schools to choose from, just how do you go about making sure that you enroll in the best one? Especially because there are so many factors to evaluate. For example, some prospective students will start by searching for schools that are close to their home. Once they have identified a few that are within driving range, they will decide on the one with the lowest tuition. While location and cost are significant, they are not the sole things that should be examined. Also important are the reputations of the schools, their accreditation, in addition to their graduation and job placement rates. These and other qualifications should contribute toward your final decision when choosing a plumber trade school. We will address that checklist in greater 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 offered.

Becoming a Plumber

Prescott 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 Prescott AZ plumber will typically advance through three phases during their professional career.

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

Plumber Certificate and Degree Options

There are several educational options available near Prescott 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.

Points to Ask Plumbing Trade Schools

Prescott Arizona plumbing contractor repairing water heater

Once you have made a decision to earn a diploma, certificate or degree, you can begin to focus your training options. Because there are numerous plumbing tech and trade schools in the Prescott AZ area, it's imperative to have a checklist of criteria that each school must meet. The first 2 that we talked about were location and the cost of tuition. And while both qualifiers may be crucial when making your determination, there are other factors that need to be taken into account as well. Below is a checklist of those additional qualifiers that you will need to analyze before choosing a plumber tech school.

Is the Plumbing School Accredited?  Numerous plumbing technical schools have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They may earn Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, such as electrical technology. Confirm that the Prescott AZ program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping make certain that you get a superior education, it can assist in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases not available for non-accredited programs. Additionally, a number of states require that the plumbing training program be accredited for it to be approved for certification or licensing.

Is the Plumbing School Licensed?  Along with accreditation, another way of determining if a vocational school you’re considering 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 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 Prescott 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 reviewing what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage or portion of students who enroll in and finish the program. A lower completion rate might indicate that students were unhappy with the program and quit. It may also indicate that the instructors were not competent to train the students. It's also imperative that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader 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 can not only confirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of contacts to assist students secure apprenticeships or employment in the Prescott AZ area.

Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored?  Numerous plumber vocational programs are taught in conjunction with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating technical and vocational schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of plumbing contractors or trade unions. Ask if the schools you are comparing have working relationships with local Prescott AZ plumbers or plumbing specialists. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by supplying hands-on training, but it also provides job opportunities and helps to form relationships in the regional plumbing professional community.

Are there Modern Facilities?  Make certain that the school facilities and the tools that you will be trained on are state-of-the-art and what you will be working with in the field. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the master plumber you are working under regarding what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Prescott AZ plumbing contractor if they can give you some suggestions.

Where is the School Located?  Unless you can relocate, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Prescott AZ residence. Take note 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 get as much individualized 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 witness first hand the interaction between teachers and students. Speak to some of the students and get their feedback regarding class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak with a few of the instructors and find out what their level of experience is in Prescott AZ and what degrees or certifications 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 at night or on weekends near Prescott AZ, verify that the schools you are considering provide those choices. If you can only attend part-time, be sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Finally, find out 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 Plumber Trade School

Picking the best plumber training program will undoubtedly be the most important decision you will make to start your new profession. As we have addressed in this article, there are many things that you will need to examine and compare between the schools you are considering. It's a necessity that any plumbing training program that you are considering includes a considerable amount of hands-on training. Classes need to be small in size and every student must have their personal equipment to train with. Classroom education should offer a real-world perspective, and the training program should be current and in-line with industry standards. Courses vary in duration and the kind of credential provided, so you will need to decide what length of program and certificate or degree will best fulfill your needs. Each program offers different options for certification also. Probably the best approach to research your final list of schools is to go to each campus and talk with the students and faculty. Invest some time to monitor a few classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the school you select is the right one for you. With the proper training, hard work and dedication, you can become a professional plumber in Prescott AZ.