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How to Choose the Right Plumber School near Benton Arkansas

Benton Arkansas plumbing contractor installing sink faucetThe initial step to becoming a plumbing tradesman or contractor is locating a plumbing trade school near Benton AR. But with numerous vocational schools to choose from, just how do you go about making certain that you enroll in the best one? Especially because there are a number of points to examine. For instance, some potential students will begin by looking for schools that are nearby their home. After they have found a few that are within driving distance, they will decide on the one with the most affordable tuition. While cost and location are significant, they are not the sole factors that need to be evaluated. Also important are the accreditation and reputations of the schools, along with their graduation and job placement rates. These and other qualifications should help mold your final decision when picking a plumbing training school. We will address 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 Benton AR plumber will typically advance through three phases during their professional career.

  • Apprentice. The majority of Benton AR 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 Benton AR 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 Benton AR 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 Plumbing Training Schools

Benton Arkansas plumbing contractor replacing water heater

When you have decided to earn a diploma, certificate or degree, you can begin to narrow down your school options. Considering that there are so many plumbing tech and trade schools in the Benton AR area, it's imperative to have a checklist of criteria that each school must satisfy. The first two that we talked about were location and the cost of tuition. And even though both qualifiers may be important when making your selection, there are additional factors that must be considered as well. Below is a checklist of those additional qualifiers that you will need to research before selecting a plumber tech school.

Is the Plumbing School Accredited?  Many plumbing trade schools have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They may receive Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, for example electrical technology. Confirm that the Benton AR school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping ensure that you get an excellent education, it may assist in securing financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable for non-accredited schools. Furthermore, a number of states mandate that the plumbing training course be accredited for it to qualify for licensing or certification.

Is the Plumbing School Licensed?  In addition to accreditation, another way of determining if a vocational school you’re considering is reputable is by making sure that it’s properly licensed.  Licensing is typically regulated and controlled by state agencies, such as the Arkansas 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 Benton AR 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 considering what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and complete the course. A lower completion rate may suggest that students were dissatisfied with the course and quit. It may 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 graduates, which can result in 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 industry, but also that it has the network of contacts to assist grads secure apprenticeships or employment in the Benton AR area.

Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored?  Many plumber trade 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 businesses or trade unions. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have referring relationships with local Benton AR plumbers or plumbing specialists. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by supplying practical training, but it also supplies employment opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the local 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 in the field. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the master plumber you are working with concerning what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Benton AR plumbing contracting company if they can provide some suggestions.

Where is the School Located?  Unless you are willing to move, the school must be within driving distance of your Benton AR home. Take note that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there can be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.

Are there Smaller Classes?  It's important that you receive as much individualized instruction as possible, which can be challenging in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor a couple of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and instructors. Talk to several of the students and get their comments regarding class sizes and instruction. Last, talk with some of the teachers and find out what their level of experience is in Benton AR and what degrees or certifications they have earned.

Is the Class Schedule Convenient?  Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are assessing are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Benton AR, check that the programs you are considering offer those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, be sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Additionally, check out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family responsibilities.

Get More Info About Benton Plumber Vocational Schools

Enroll in the Right Benton Plumber Training School

Selecting the ideal plumber training program will undoubtedly be the most important decision you will make to start your new profession. As we have addressed in this article, there are a number of things that you will need to assess and compare among the schools you are reviewing. It's a necessity that any plumbing training program that you are assessing includes a good deal of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be smaller in size and each student must have their own equipment to train with. Classroom teaching needs to offer a real-world frame of reference, and the curriculum should be current and in-line with industry standards. Training programs differ in duration and the kind of credential offered, so you will need to determine what length of program and certificate or degree will best serve your needs. Each training program offers different possibilities for certification as well. Probably the best way to research your short list of schools is to check out each campus and speak with the teachers and students. Invest some time to monitor a few classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the school you decide on is the right one for you. With the right training, effort and commitment, you can become a professional plumber in Benton AR.