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How to Enroll in the Right Plumbing Technical School near Tucson Arizona

Tucson Arizona plumbing contractor installing kitchen faucetThe first step to becoming a plumbing tradesman or contractor is enrolling in a plumbing trade school near Tucson AZ. But with so many technical schools to choose from, just how do you approach making certain that you enroll in the right one? Especially since there are so many points to consider. For instance, some potential students will begin by looking for schools that are nearby their residence. After they have found some that are within driving range, they will select the one with the least expensive tuition. While location and cost are of importance, they are not the sole factors that need to be examined. Also important are the accreditation and reputations of the schools, in addition to their graduation and job placement rates. These and other qualifiers should influence your ultimate decision when choosing a plumber training school. We will discuss that checklist in greater detail later in this article. But first, let's talk a little bit about becoming a plumber and the training choices that are accessible.

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

  • Apprentice. The majority of Tucson 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 Tucson 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 Tucson 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 Vocational Schools

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Once you have decided to earn a certificate, diploma or degree, you can start to narrow down your school options. Since there are so many plumbing tech and trade schools in the Tucson AZ area, it's important to have a checklist of criteria that each program must satisfy. The first two that we mentioned were location and tuition expense. And although both qualifiers may be crucial when making your decision, there are other variables that must be taken into account as well. Below is a checklist of those additional qualifications that you will need to analyze prior to choosing a plumber vocational school.

Is the Plumbing School Accredited?  Numerous plumbing technical schools have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They can receive Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, such as electrical technology. Make certain that the Tucson AZ program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting agency, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping guarantee that you get a superior education, it may help in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases not available for non-accredited programs. Also, some states mandate that the plumbing training course be accredited in order to be approved for licensing or certification.

Is the Plumbing School Licensed?  In addition to 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 typically controlled and regulated by state agencies, such as the Arizona Department of Education.  If you don’t know, 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 Tucson 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 percentage or portion of students who enroll in and complete the course. A lower completion rate might suggest that students were disappointed with the program and dropped out. It may also signify that the teachers were not competent to instruct the students. It's similarly important that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader directory 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 industry, but additionally that it has the network of contacts to assist graduates secure apprenticeships or employment in the Tucson AZ area.

Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored?  A large number of plumber training programs are taught in conjunction with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating vocational and trade schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of plumbing businesses or labor unions. Check if the schools you are comparing have referring partnerships with local Tucson AZ plumbers or plumbing companies. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by providing hands-on training, but it also furnishes employment opportunities and helps to build relationships in the local plumbing professional community.

Are there Modern Facilities?  Make certain that the campus 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 already in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the master plumber you are working with concerning what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Tucson AZ plumbing contractor if they can provide some tips.

Where is the School Located?  Unless you are willing to relocate, the school must be within driving distance of your Tucson AZ residence. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there may be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.

Are there Smaller Classes?  It's desirable that you receive as much personalized instruction as possible, which can be challenging in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor some of the classes so that you can see how big they are and experience the interaction between instructors and students. Speak to several of the students and get their comments concerning class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak with a few of the instructors and learn what their level of experience is in Tucson AZ and what degrees or certifications they have earned.

Is the Class Schedule Convenient?  Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are evaluating are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Tucson AZ, verify that the programs you are considering offer those options. If you can only attend part-time, be sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Also, check out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family emergencies.

Find Out More About Tucson Plumber Tech Schools

Enroll in the Right Tucson Plumbing Trade School

Choosing the right plumber training program will probably be the most critical decision you will make to begin your new career. As we have discussed in this article, there are many factors that you will need to assess and compare among the training programs you are considering. It's a necessity that any plumber tech school that you are considering includes a considerable amount of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be smaller in size and every student should have their own equipment to train with. Classroom teaching needs to provide a real-world frame of reference, and the course of study should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Courses differ in length and the kind of credential provided, so you will need to determine what length of program and credential will best satisfy your needs. Each training program offers unique options for certification also. Perhaps the best approach to research your final list of schools is to check out each campus and talk with the students and instructors. Invest some time to attend some classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the training program you select is the ideal one for you. With the proper training, effort and commitment, you can become a professional plumber in Tucson AZ.