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How to Pick the Best Plumbing Trade School near Tucson Arizona

Tucson Arizona plumbing contractor repairing kitchen sink faucetThe initial step to learning to be a plumbing contractor or tradesman is finding a plumbing trade school near Tucson AZ. But with numerous technical schools to choose from, just how do you go about making certain that you enroll in the best one? Especially since there are a number of variables to examine. For example, many prospective students will begin by searching for schools that are close to their home. When they have located a few that are within commuting range, they will choose the one with the lowest tuition. Even though cost and location are important, they are not the sole factors that need to be evaluated. Also important are the accreditation and reputations of the schools, in addition to their graduation and job placement rates. These and other qualifications should help mold your ultimate judgment when choosing a plumber trade school. We will discuss that checklist in more detail later in this post. But first, let's talk a little bit about becoming a plumber and the instructional 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 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 Programs

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.

What to Ask Plumber Tech Schools

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Now that you have made a decision to earn a diploma, certificate or degree, you can begin to narrow down your school options. Because there are numerous plumbing tech and trade schools in the Tucson AZ region, it's essential to have a checklist of criteria that each school must meet. The initial 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 additional factors that need to be considered also. Below is a checklist of those added qualifications that you will need to analyze before choosing a plumber trade school.

Is the Plumbing School Accredited?  Many plumbing vocational programs have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They may receive Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, such as electrical technology. Make certain that the Tucson AZ school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping make certain that you obtain an excellent education, it can help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases not available for non-accredited schools. Also, some states require that the plumbing training course be accredited in order to qualify for licensing or certification.

Is the Plumbing School Licensed?  Along with accreditation, another way of determining if a vocational 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 don’t know, 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 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 portion or percentage of students who enroll in and complete the course. A lower completion rate might indicate that students were dissatisfied with the course and dropped out. It might also suggest that the teachers were not qualified to train the students. It's also important that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive directory of graduates, which may mean 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 an excellent reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of contacts to assist graduates obtain apprenticeships or jobs in the Tucson AZ area.

Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored?  Many plumber training programs are taught along with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating trade and technical schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of plumbing contractors or trade unions. Find out if the schools you are comparing have working partnerships with local Tucson AZ plumbers or plumbing specialists. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by supplying hands-on training, but it also provides employment opportunities and helps to build relationships in the regional plumbing professional community.

Are there Modern Facilities?  Confirm that the school facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are state-of-the-art and what you will be working with in the field. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the master plumber you are working with concerning what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Tucson AZ plumbing company if they can give you some suggestions.

Where is the School Located?  Unless you are able to move, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Tucson AZ home. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there might be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.

Are there Smaller Classes?  It's important that you get as much personalized instruction as possible, which can be challenging in bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a couple of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between instructors and students. Speak with some of the students and get their comments relating to class sizes and instruction. Last, talk with a few of the instructors and find out what their level of experience is in Tucson AZ and what degrees or certifications they hold.

Is the Class Schedule Convenient?  Confirm that the class schedules for the schools you are assessing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you are only able to go to classes at night or on weekends near Tucson AZ, confirm that the programs you are considering provide those options. If you can only attend part-time, be sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family responsibilities.

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Pick the Right Tucson Plumber Training School

Choosing the best plumbing training program will probably be the most critical decision you will make to begin your new profession. As we have discussed in this article, there are many factors that you will need to examine and compare between the schools you are reviewing. It's a necessity that any plumber training program that you are evaluating includes a lot of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be smaller in size and every student must have their personal equipment to train with. Classroom education should offer a real-world perspective, and the training program should be current and conform with industry standards. Programs differ in duration and the kind of credential provided, so you will have to determine what length of program and certificate or degree will best fulfill your needs. Every program provides different possibilities for certification also. Probably the best way to research your final list of schools is to visit each campus and speak with the faculty and students. Invest some time to sit in on some classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the training program you pick is the best one for you. With the right training, effort and dedication, you can become a professional plumber in Tucson AZ.