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How to Select the Right Plumber Training near Prescott Arizona

Prescott Arizona plumber replacing sink faucetThe initial step to learning to be a plumbing contractor or tradesman is enrolling in a plumbing trade school near Prescott AZ. But with so many vocational schools to pick from, just how do you approach making sure that you enroll in the best one? Particularly because there are a number of factors to evaluate. For example, some potential students will start by searching for schools that are nearby their home. When they have identified a few that are within commuting range, they will choose the one with the cheapest tuition. Even though location and cost are of importance, they are not the only qualifications that should be examined. Also important are the reputations of the schools, their accreditation, as well as their graduation and job placement rates. These and other qualifiers should contribute toward your ultimate decision when selecting a plumber trade school. We will talk about that checklist in more 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 available.

Becoming a Plumber

Prescott Arizona plumber repairing 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.

Plumbing Degree and Certificate 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.

Things to Ask Plumbing Training Schools

Prescott Arizona plumbing contractor installing hot water heater

Now that you have decided to obtain a diploma, certificate or degree, you can begin to focus your school options. Because there are so many plumbing tech and trade schools in the Prescott AZ area, it's imperative to have a checklist of qualifications that each program must meet. The initial 2 that we discussed were location and tuition expense. And while both qualifiers may be crucial when making your decision, there are other variables that need to be taken into account as well. Below is a checklist of those added qualifiers that you will need to research before choosing a plumber tech school.

Is the Plumbing School Accredited?  Numerous plumbing trade programs have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They can receive Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, for example electrical technology. Verify that the Prescott AZ program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping guarantee that you get a superior education, it can assist in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently unavailable for non-accredited programs. Additionally, many states require that the plumbing training program be accredited in order to qualify for certification or licensing.

Is the Plumbing School Licensed?  In addition to accreditation, another way of determining if a trade school you’re reiewing is reputable is by checking 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 is responsible for 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 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 of students who enroll in and complete the program. A lower completion rate may indicate that students were disappointed with the course and quit. It might also signify that the instructors were not qualified to instruct the students. It's also imperative that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive directory of graduates, which can mean more contacts for the school to employ for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only validate that the school has a good reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of contacts to help students secure apprenticeships or jobs in the Prescott AZ area.

Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored?  Most plumber technical programs are taught in conjunction with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating trade and technical programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of plumbing companies or labor unions. Ask if the schools you are comparing have referring relationships with local Prescott AZ plumbers or plumbing companies. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by furnishing hands-on training, but it also supplies employment opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the area 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 already in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the master plumber you are working under regarding what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Prescott AZ plumbing contracting company if they can give you some tips.

Where is the School Located?  Unless you are able to move, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Prescott AZ home. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there can 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 bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a few of the classes so that you can see how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between instructors and students. Speak to some of the students and get their opinions relating to class sizes and instruction. Last, speak to a few of the teachers and learn what their level of experience is in Prescott AZ and what certifications or degrees they hold.

Is the Class Schedule Convenient?  Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are evaluating are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you are only able to attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Prescott AZ, confirm that the programs you are reviewing offer those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make 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 responsibilities.

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Enroll in the Right Prescott Plumber Trade School

Choosing the best plumbing trade school will probably be the most critical decision you will make to start your new trade. As we have covered in this article, there are many things that you will need to evaluate and compare among the schools you are considering. It's a prerequisite that any plumber tech school that you are considering 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 teaching should offer a real-world perspective, and the training program should be current and in-line with industry standards. Programs vary in duration and the type of credential offered, so you will need to ascertain what length of program and credential will best satisfy your needs. Each training program offers different options for certification as well. Perhaps the best means to research your final list of schools is to go to each campus and speak with the faculty and students. Invest some time to attend some classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the program you choose is the right one for you. With the right training, effort and dedication, you can become a professional plumber in Prescott AZ.