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How to Find the Right Plumbing School near Tempe Arizona

Tempe Arizona plumbing contractor repairing sink faucetThe initial step to learning to be a plumbing tradesman or contractor is enrolling in a plumbing trade school near Tempe AZ. But with numerous technical schools to pick from, just how do you go about making sure that you enroll in the right one? Particularly because there are a number of factors to consider. For instance, many potential students will begin by searching for schools that are close to their home. Once they have located several that are within driving range, they will decide on the one with the cheapest tuition. Although cost and location are significant, they are not the sole qualifications that need to be examined. Also critical are the accreditation and reputations of the schools, in addition to their job placement and graduation rates. These and additional qualifiers should contribute toward your ultimate decision when selecting a plumbing trade school. We will talk about that checklist in greater detail later in this article. But first, let's talk a little bit about becoming a plumber and the educational options 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 Tempe AZ plumber will typically advance through three phases during their professional career.

  • Apprentice. The majority of Tempe 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 Tempe 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 Programs

There are several educational options available near Tempe 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 Vocational Schools

Tempe Arizona plumber installing hot water heater

Now that you have decided to earn a certificate, diploma or degree, you can start to focus your training options. Because there are so many plumbing trade and vocational schools in the Tempe AZ region, it's important to have a checklist of qualifications that each program must meet. The first 2 that we discussed were location and tuition expense. And even though both qualifiers may be crucial when making your selection, there are additional variables that need to be considered also. Following is a checklist of those additional qualifiers that you will need to research before enrolling in a plumber vocational school.

Is the Plumbing School Accredited?  Many plumbing vocational programs have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They may attain Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, for example electrical technology. Make certain that the Tempe AZ school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting agency, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping make certain that you obtain an excellent education, it may assist in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited programs. Furthermore, a number of states mandate that the plumbing training program be accredited for it to qualify for certification or licensing.

Is the Plumbing School Licensed?  In addition to accreditation, another 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 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 Tempe 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 portion or percentage of students who enroll in and complete the program. A low completion rate might signify that students were dissatisfied with the course and quit. It might also indicate that the instructors were not competent to train the students. It's also important that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader directory of alumni, which may mean 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 trade, but additionally that it has the network of contacts to help grads obtain apprenticeships or jobs in the Tempe AZ area.

Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored?  A large number of plumber trade programs are taught along with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating trade and vocational programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of plumbing contractors or trade unions. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have working partnerships with local Tempe AZ plumbers or plumbing specialists. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by supplying practical training, but it also provides employment opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the regional plumbing professional community.

Are there Modern Facilities?  Confirm that the campus facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are state-of-the-art 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 regarding what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Tempe AZ plumbing company if they can give you some suggestions.

Where is the School Located?  Unless you can move, the school must be within commuting distance of your Tempe AZ residence. Remember 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 one-on-one instruction as possible, which can be difficult in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor some of the classes so that you can see how large they are and experience the interaction between teachers and students. Talk to a few of the students and get their feedback relating to class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk with a few of the teachers and learn what their level of experience is in Tempe AZ and what degrees or certifications they have earned.

Is the Class Schedule Convenient?  Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Tempe AZ, verify that the programs you are reviewing offer those choices. If you can only attend part-time, be sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family issues.

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Pick the Best Tempe Plumbing Vocational School

Selecting the ideal plumber trade school will probably be the most important decision you will make to start your new career. As we have discussed in this article, there are many factors that you will need to assess and compare between the training programs you are looking at. It's a prerequisite that any plumber training program that you are examining includes a lot of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be small in size and each student must have their own equipment to train with. Classroom education should offer a real-world context, and the curriculum should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Programs differ in duration and the kind of credential provided, so you will have to decide what length of program and certificate or degree will best satisfy your needs. Every program offers different possibilities for certification also. Perhaps 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 sit in on a few classes. Tour 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 Tempe AZ.