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How to Pick the Right Plumbing School near Sun City West Arizona

Sun City West Arizona plumbing contractor installing kitchen faucetThe first step to learning to be a plumbing contractor or tradesman is finding a plumbing trade school near Sun City West AZ. But with so many technical schools to pick from, just how do you approach making sure that you enroll in the ideal one? Especially since there are so many variables to consider. For instance, some potential students will start by looking for schools that are close to their residence. Once they have located a few that are within commuting distance, they will decide on the one with the lowest tuition. Even though location and cost are important, they are not the sole qualifications that should be considered. Also critical are the accreditation and reputations of the schools, in addition to their graduation and job placement rates. These and additional qualifications should help mold your final decision when selecting a plumber trade school. We will address that checklist in more detail later in this article. But to begin with, let's review a little bit about becoming a plumber and the educational choices that are accessible.

Becoming 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 Sun City West AZ plumber will typically advance through three phases during their professional career.

  • Apprentice. The majority of Sun City West 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 Sun City West 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 Sun City West 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 Plumber Tech Schools

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When you have decided to earn a certificate, diploma or degree, you can start to focus your training options. Considering that there are numerous plumbing trade and vocational schools in the Sun City West AZ region, it's essential to have a checklist of criteria that each program must satisfy. The first 2 that we mentioned were location and the cost of tuition. And although both qualifiers may be critical when making your decision, there are other factors that need to be taken into account also. Below is a checklist of those added qualifications that you will need to analyze prior to selecting 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 can attain Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, for instance electrical technology. Make certain that the Sun City West AZ school and program 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 obtain a quality education, it can assist in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable for non-accredited schools. Also, some states require 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 considering is reputable is by making sure 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 is responsible for 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 Sun City West 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 program. A low completion rate could suggest that students were dissatisfied with the program and quit. It might also signify that the instructors were not qualified to instruct the students. It's similarly essential that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader list of alumni, which can result in 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 a good reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of contacts to help graduates acquire apprenticeships or jobs in the Sun City West AZ area.

Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored?  Many plumber training programs are taught along 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. Find out if the schools you are comparing have working relationships with local Sun City West AZ plumbers or plumbing companies. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by supplying hands-on training, but it also provides job opportunities and helps to build relationships in the area plumbing professional community.

Are there Modern Facilities?  Make sure that the school 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, consult with the master plumber you are working under regarding what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Sun City West AZ plumbing contracting company if they can provide some suggestions.

Where is the School Located?  Unless you can relocate, the school must be within driving distance of your Sun City West AZ home. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added moving costs there can be increased tuition charges compared to in-state residents.

Are there Smaller Classes?  It's important that you receive as much one-on-one instruction as possible, which can be difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor some of the classes so that you can see how big they are and witness first hand the interaction between teachers and students. Speak to several of the students and get their feedback concerning class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk with a few of the instructors and learn what their level of experience is in Sun City West AZ and what certifications or degrees they hold.

Is the Class Schedule Convenient?  Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you are only able to attend classes at night or on weekends near Sun City West AZ, confirm that the schools you are reviewing offer those options. If you can only attend part-time, make certain that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Additionally, find out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family responsibilities.

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Choose the Best Sun City West Plumber Trade School

Picking the ideal plumber trade school will undoubtedly be the most critical decision you will make to launch your new trade. As we have addressed in this article, there are a number of things that you will need to examine and compare between the schools you are considering. It's a must that any plumbing tech school that you are evaluating includes a considerable amount of hands-on instruction. Classes should be smaller in size and each student should have their personal equipment to train with. Classroom instruction needs to offer a real-world perspective, and the training program should be current and conform with industry standards. Courses vary in duration and the type of credential offered, so you will need to determine what length of program and degree or certificate will best fulfill your needs. Every training program offers different possibilities for certification also. Probably the best way to research your short list of schools is to go to each campus and speak with the teachers and students. Take the time to attend a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the program you choose is the best one for you. With the right training, effort and dedication, you can become a professional plumber in Sun City West AZ.