Plumbers play an essential role in today’s society. They keep the water in our homes and businesses running, and they ensure that newly constructed buildings are up to code. A career as a plumber can earn you a great living. In 2016, the median pay for plumbers hit $51,450. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 16% growth in the industry, which is much faster than average.
But what does it take to become a plumber? How much education do you need, and how do you get started?
1. Start with a Solid Education Foundation
If you have a high school diploma or equivalent, you can become a plumber. Yes, special training is needed, but you don’t need a college education to enter this field.
Advanced knowledge in science and math can be helpful in this career. Accurate measurements and water gauging are part of the job as a plumber. Plumbers can benefit from knowledge in:
· Metric units of measure
It also helps to have:
· A clean driving record
· No criminal background
· A drug-free lifestyle
2. Enroll in a Technical School
The next step is to enroll in a technical school that offers plumbing courses. Both public and private institutions offer plumber programs. Check with your local community colleges and trade institutions to see if they offer training. You can also check with local unions and professional plumbing institutions.
Many states require you to have a certain number of hours in the classroom to become eligible for licensing.
The curriculum will vary, depending on the city or state requirements, but most will cover the basics of residential sewer repairs, such as:
· Draining and venting
· Water heating systems
· Pipe soldering and cutting
· Local plumbing codes
· Electrical bases
3. Find an Apprenticeship Opportunity
Most states require aspiring plumbers to work under an apprenticeship before they can become licensed. Requirements will vary depending on your location, but you will be required to work under an experienced plumber for a certain number of hours. Some states require up to five years of work under an apprenticeship.
Check with your trade school to find out about apprenticeship opportunities and requirements. You may be able to complete an apprenticeship while you’re still in school. If the school doesn’t offer a program, they can put you in touch with an organization that does.
4. Take the Exam and Get Licensed
Once you’ve met the apprenticeship requirements, all that’s left to do is take the exam and obtain your license. You may be required to pass a written exam, a practical test, or both.
The exam should cover the things you learned in the classroom and in the field. Practice tests can be found online that will help you prepare for the actual exam. These tests will give you an idea of the material that will be covered.
Each state has its own requirements, but you may be considered a licensed journeyman plumber after passing the test. That may mean that you can complete contract work as a plumber without the assistance of another qualified plumber.