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How to Select the Right Plumbing Tech School near Tucson Arizona

Tucson Arizona plumber repairing kitchen faucetThe first step to learning to be a plumbing contractor or tradesman is enrolling in a plumbing trade school near Tucson AZ. But with numerous vocational schools to pick from, just how do you go about making sure that you enroll in the ideal one? Especially since there are a number of factors to consider. For instance, some prospective students will start by looking for schools that are nearby their home. After they have identified some that are within commuting range, they will decide on the one with the cheapest tuition. Even though cost and location are important, they are not the only qualifications that need to be considered. Also critical are the reputations of the schools, their accreditation, in addition to their job placement and graduation rates. These and additional qualifiers should help mold your final decision when selecting a plumber trade school. We will talk about that checklist in greater detail later in this article. But first, let's review a little bit about becoming a plumber and the training 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 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.

Plumbing 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.

Questions to Ask Plumber Tech Schools

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When you have made a decision to earn a certificate, diploma or degree, you can start to narrow down your training options. Because there are numerous plumbing vocational and trade schools in the Tucson AZ area, it's imperative to have a checklist of qualifications that each school must satisfy. The first two that we discussed were location and tuition expense. And although both qualifiers may be crucial when making your selection, there are other variables that must be considered also. Below is a checklist of those additional qualifications that you will need to assess prior to selecting a plumber vocational school.

Is the Plumbing School Accredited?  A large number of plumbing technical 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 example electrical technology. Make certain that the Tucson AZ program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping ensure that you receive a superior education, it can assist in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. Furthermore, some states require that the plumbing training program be accredited for it to qualify for certification or licensing.

Is the Plumbing School Licensed?  Along with accreditation, an additional way of confirming that a trade 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 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 looking at what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students who enroll in and complete the course. A low completion rate may suggest that students were dissatisfied with the program and dropped out. It could also indicate that the teachers were not qualified to instruct the students. It's also important 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 validate that the school has an excellent reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of contacts to help students obtain apprenticeships or employment in the Tucson AZ area.

Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored?  Numerous plumber training programs are taught in conjunction 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 contractors or labor unions. Ask if the schools you are considering have referring partnerships with local Tucson AZ plumbers or plumbing contractors. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by furnishing practical training, but it also furnishes employment opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the area plumbing professional community.

Are there Modern Facilities?  Confirm that the campus facilities and the tools 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 concerning what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Tucson AZ plumbing company if they can provide some tips.

Where is the School Located?  Unless you can move, the school must be within commuting distance of your Tucson AZ residence. 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 get as much individualized training as possible, which can be difficult in larger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a few of the classes so that you can see how large they are and experience the interaction between teachers and students. Talk with a few of the students and get their opinions concerning class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak to 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?  Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Tucson AZ, confirm that the schools you are considering offer those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make 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 due to work, sickness or family issues.

Find Out More About Tucson Plumbing Tech Schools

Pick the Right Tucson Plumber Vocational School

Choosing the right plumbing training program will undoubtedly be the most critical decision you will make to begin your new profession. As we have addressed in this article, there are several things that you will need to evaluate and compare between the training programs you are considering. It's a must that any plumbing training that you are assessing includes a considerable amount of hands-on training. Classes should be smaller in size and each student should have their own equipment to train with. Classroom education should offer a real-world perspective, and the training program should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Programs vary in duration and the kind of credential provided, so you will have to decide what length of program and degree or certificate will best serve your needs. Each training program offers unique possibilities for certification as well. Perhaps The ideal means to research your short list of schools is to visit each campus and speak with the students and instructors. Take the time to monitor a few classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the program you decide on is the ideal one for you. With the proper training, effort and dedication, you can become a professional plumber in Tucson AZ.