While a plumbing career may not seem as glamorous as other careers, it offers highly competitive pay and is one of the few job markets that have seen exponential growth. In the United States, there is currently a large shortage of plumbers, despite the pay that is offered.
This shortage can provide you with the perfect opportunity to advance in this competitive field. It is also worth knowing that, unlike many careers, advancement opportunities and goals are easier to accomplish. You can start your plumbing career knowing how to become an apprentice, journeyman and master plumber. In order to become a plumber, you must first meet certain requirements including studying through a technical plumber course. These courses are most commonly offered in trade schools and community colleges. From there, you will need to seek certification and, depending on the state you reside in, you may be required to complete an apprenticeship. To learn more about plumbing careers, you can refer to the sections below.
What does a plumber’s job require?
A profession in plumbing is an important part of everyone’s lives. Essentially, a plumber keeps water flowing smoothly throughout your home and appliances. They also have a hand in the installation and, sometimes the repair, of household appliances. Some of the tasks of a plumber include:
- Reading blueprints, following state and local building codes.
- Inspecting and determining any potential or existing plumbing problems within a home.
- Applying an extensive knowledge of piping systems, including how to connect pipes and the variety of pipe types that may need to be used.
- Understanding basic carpentry and be capable of performing simple tasks.
- Attaching and welding fillings.
Not only does a plumbing career pay well, but there are an abundance of opportunities. Plumbers are in high demand within the United States due to a lack of skilled plumbers and an aging workforce, making it more likely that you can land a job as a plumber.
Requirements for Becoming a Plumber
There are many basic requirements that must be met in order to become a licensed plumber, including the following conditions:
- You must be at least 18 years of age or older.
- You must possess either a GED or a High School Diploma.
- You must be able to pass a drug test.
- You must receive training by attending a community college program or trade school.
- You will be required to complete an apprenticeship program, which can take four to five years to complete.
- You must get a plumbing license, as required by your state.
A Good Start on Education
If you are still in high school and you aspire to a career as a plumber, there are several things that you can do now to further your education and prepare for this line of work. While it is important to have basic ability in terms of reading and writing, plumbers are required to have extensive knowledge of math and science. There are a number of courses that you can take in high school that will help you to succeed in your career goals. These courses include algebra, thermodynamics and metric units of measurement, among other subjects.
Keeping Your Record Clean
Many factors can impair your ability to become a plumber, even if you complete schooling. Plumbers are generally required to have a good driving record and you must be able to pass a criminal background check and drug test. Future employers and training programs will need to insure you, which means that you could be refused employment if you have:
- Reckless driving convictions.
- A large amount of moving violations, such as speeding tickets.
- DUIs or DWIs.
- Felony convictions of any kind.
- Certain misdemeanors.
By having a clean record, you will be far more likely to be able to obtain and advance in your career.
Enroll in a Technical Plumbing Course
After graduating high school or obtaining your GED, you will need to enroll in a technical course for plumbing. You can do this either through trade school or through a community college. Some professional plumbing associations can also offer training or they may be able to point you in the right direction. However, your technical plumbing course curriculum will vary, depending on the state that you live in. Generally, a technical plumbing course will include subjects such as:
- Draining and venting.
- The basics of carpentry and electrical systems
- Carpentry basics.
- Pipe cutting and soldering.
- Water heating systems.
- Local plumbing regulations.
It is also recommended that you join the Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors Associations and, if within your area, attend meetings regularly. Joining an association can help you to find work and advance in your career.
Most states will require that you pass either a written exam, a practical test or both in order to receive a plumbing license. In some cases, the tests may even be available at the location of your technical plumbing course. The tests will go over the curriculum that was included within your technical plumbing course and ensure that you have the knowledge that you will need in order to work as a plumber. There are a handful of states that will consider you a licensed journeyman plumber after passing your test and receiving certification. This allows you to skip an apprenticeship, if you so choose, as you will then be considered legally able to complete plumbing work on your own.
Find an Apprenticeship
When you engage in an apprenticeship program, you will study directly under a journeyman or master plumber. This can provide you with invaluable experience that you may not have been able to gain during your technical plumbing courses. Therefore, it is important to consider an apprenticeship even if your state does not require that you do so. Most apprenticeship programs require an average of 2000 on-the-job hours as well as 246 classroom hours in order to advance in the plumbing industry. Generally, an apprenticeship can take between two to six years to complete. One of the most common ways to enroll in an apprenticeship is through a plumbers union, but you can also simply study under a licensed plumber.
Becoming a Journeyman Plumber
You will become a journeyman plumber after completing required certifications and apprenticeships, the requirements of which are determined by your state. Keep in mind that once you are a journeyman, there are exam and license renewals that you will need to abide by in order to maintain your plumber’s license. Some states require this yearly while others require a renewal every three to five years.
Becoming a Master Plumber
In order to become a master plumber, you must first work as journeyman plumber for two consistent years. After the two year period, you will be required to complete an exam. The exam will contain both written and practical portions and both must be passed successfully in order to earn the title of master plumber. Once you are a master plumber, you can further your career and work in supervisory roles. You will also be qualified to design and plan out entire plumbing systems, broadening the services that you can provide.