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How to Select the Best Plumber Training near Benton Arkansas

Benton Arkansas plumber installing kitchen sink faucetThe first step to becoming a plumbing tradesman or contractor is locating a plumbing trade school near Benton AR. But with so many vocational schools to choose from, just how do you undertake making certain that you enroll in the best one? Particularly because there are so many variables to consider. For example, some prospective students will begin by looking for schools that are close to their residence. After they have identified several that are within commuting distance, they will decide on the one with the lowest tuition. Even though location and cost are important, they are not the only factors that should be examined. Also important are the reputations of the schools, their accreditation, along with their graduation and job placement rates. These and other qualifications should contribute toward your ultimate decision when selecting a plumbing training school. We will address that checklist in more detail later in this article. But first, let's review a little bit about becoming a plumber and the instructional choices that are offered.

Becoming a Plumber

Benton Arkansas plumbing contractor adjusting sink pipe

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.

Plumber Degree and Certificate Programs

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 Plumber Vocational Schools

Benton Arkansas plumber repairing hot water heater

Now that you have made a decision to obtain a diploma, certificate or degree, you can begin to narrow down your training options. Considering that there are numerous plumbing tech and trade schools in the Benton AR area, it's essential to have a checklist of criteria that each program must meet. The initial two that we discussed were location and the cost of tuition. And even though both qualifiers may be crucial when making your determination, there are other factors that need to be taken into account as well. Following is a checklist of those additional qualifiers that you will need to analyze before enrolling in a plumber trade school.

Is the Plumbing School Accredited?  Numerous plumbing trade programs have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They can attain Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, for example electrical technology. Make certain that the Benton AR school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting agency, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping ensure that you get an excellent education, it can assist in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases not available for non-accredited programs. Furthermore, a number of states require that the plumbing training program be accredited for it to qualify for licensing or certification.

Is the Plumbing School Licensed?  Along with accreditation, another way of confirming that a trade school you’re reiewing is reputable is by checking that it’s properly licensed.  Licensing is usually controlled and regulated by state agencies, such as the Arkansas Department of Education.  If you don’t know, 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 program. A low completion rate could indicate that students were dissatisfied with the course and dropped out. It might also suggest that the instructors were not competent to train the students. It's also essential that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader directory of alumni, which can mean more contacts for the school to employ for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only validate that the school has a good reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of contacts to help grads acquire apprenticeships or employment in the Benton AR area.

Are Apprenticeship Programs Sponsored?  Numerous plumber technical programs are taught together with an internship or an apprenticeship 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 considering have working relationships with local Benton AR plumbers or plumbing professionals. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by providing hands-on training, but it also provides employment opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the local plumbing professional community.

Are there Modern Facilities?  Make sure that the school facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are up-to-date and what you will be using on the job. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the master plumber you are working under concerning what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Benton AR plumbing company if they can give you some pointers.

Where is the School Located?  Unless you are able to move, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Benton AR residence. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there might be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.

Are there Smaller Classes?  It's important that you receive as much one-on-one training as possible, which can be challenging in bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on some of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and experience the interaction between instructors and students. Speak to several of the students and get their comments relating to class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk with some of the teachers and find out what their level of experience is in Benton AR and what certifications or degrees they hold.

Is the Class Schedule Convenient?  Confirm that the class schedules for the schools you are assessing are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Benton AR, verify that the programs you are looking at provide those options. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Also, check out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family responsibilities.

Find Out More About Benton Plumber Tech Schools

Choose the Right Benton Plumber Vocational School

Picking the right plumbing trade school will undoubtedly be the most important decision you will make to start your new trade. As we have addressed in this article, there are many factors that you will need to examine and compare among the training programs you are reviewing. It's a prerequisite that any plumber training that you are evaluating includes a good deal of hands-on training. Classes should be small in size and each student should have their own equipment to train with. Classroom instruction should provide a real-world context, and the training program should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Training programs vary in length and the type of credential offered, so you will have to decide what length of program and degree or certificate will best satisfy your needs. Each training program provides different options for certification as well. Probably the best approach to research your short list of schools is to go to each campus and talk with the students and faculty. Take the time to sit in on some classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the program you pick is the ideal one for you. With the proper training, effort and dedication, you can become a professional plumber in Benton AR.