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How to Enroll in the Right Plumbing Trade School near Sierra Vista Arizona

Sierra Vista Arizona plumbing contractor replacing kitchen sink faucetThe first step to learning to be a plumbing contractor or tradesman is finding a plumbing trade school near Sierra Vista AZ. But with so many vocational schools to choose from, just how do you tackle making sure that you enroll in the best one? Particularly because there are a number of variables to evaluate. For example, some students will start by searching for schools that are close to their residence. After they have found some that are within commuting distance, they will select the one with the least expensive tuition. Even though location and cost are important, they are not the only things that must be considered. Also important are the accreditation and reputations of the schools, in addition to their job placement and graduation rates. These and other qualifications should help mold your final 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 educational options that are available.

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

  • Apprentice. The majority of Sierra Vista 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 Sierra Vista 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 Sierra Vista 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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When you have decided to earn a certificate, diploma or degree, you can begin to focus your training options. Because there are numerous plumbing trade and vocational schools in the Sierra Vista AZ area, it's imperative to have a checklist of qualifications that each program must meet. The first two that we talked about were location and the cost of tuition. And even though both qualifiers may be important when making your decision, there are other variables that must be considered as well. Following is a checklist of those additional qualifications that you will need to analyze prior to enrolling in a plumber vocational school.

Is the Plumbing School Accredited?  Numerous plumbing vocational schools have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They can attain Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, for example electrical technology. Make sure that the Sierra Vista AZ program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting agency, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping make certain that you get a quality education, it can assist in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited schools. Additionally, many states mandate that the plumbing training program be accredited in order to qualify 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 making sure that it’s properly licensed.  Licensing is usually 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 Sierra Vista 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 reviewing what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students who enroll in and finish the program. A low completion rate may indicate that students were disappointed with the program and dropped out. It could also indicate 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 broader list of graduates, which can produce more contacts for the school to use for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only affirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of contacts to assist students acquire apprenticeships or employment in the Sierra Vista AZ area.

Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored?  A large number of plumber trade programs are taught together with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating trade and technical schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of plumbing businesses or trade unions. Check if the schools you are comparing have working relationships with local Sierra Vista AZ plumbers or plumbing companies. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by supplying hands-on training, but it also furnishes job opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the regional plumbing professional community.

Are there Modern Facilities?  Make sure that the campus facilities and the equipment that you will be trained 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, talk to the master plumber you are working with concerning what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Sierra Vista AZ plumbing contractor if they can give you some pointers.

Where is the School Located?  Unless you can move, the school must be within commuting distance of your Sierra Vista AZ home. Take note that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there can be higher tuition fees 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 some of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and witness first hand the interaction between instructors and students. Talk to some of the students and get their comments relating to class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk with some of the instructors and learn what their level of experience is in Sierra Vista AZ and what degrees or certifications they hold.

Is the Class Schedule Convenient?  Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are assessing are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you are only able to go to classes at night or on weekends near Sierra Vista AZ, confirm that the programs you are considering provide those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Additionally, ask what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family issues.

Learn More About Sierra Vista Plumbing Vocational Schools

Pick the Right Sierra Vista Plumbing Vocational School

Selecting the ideal plumber trade school will undoubtedly be the most important decision you will make to start your new trade. As we have addressed in this article, there are many things that you will need to assess and compare between the schools you are considering. It's a must that any plumbing training program that you are considering includes a good deal of hands-on instruction. Classes should be small in size and every student should have their own equipment to train with. Classroom instruction should provide a real-world perspective, and the training program should be current and conform with industry standards. Training programs vary in length and the type of credential offered, so you will have to ascertain what length of program and credential will best fulfill your needs. Each training program offers different possibilities for certification also. Probably the best approach to research your final list of schools is to visit each campus and talk with the faculty and students. Invest some time to attend a few classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the training program you choose is the right one for you. With the right training, hard work and commitment, you can become a professional plumber in Sierra Vista AZ.