There are a lot of job opportunities for aspiring plumbers in today’s market. But you have to make a plan and follow the rules to get a license. This takes a few years and patience is important.
Sometimes, you also have to look into the amount of money you can spend in the process. But if you don’t, not to worry, there are ways to make it happen. Let’s see what they are.
This varies from one state to the other but here’s what you can expect. You will probably need a GED or finish high school. Then you can do a certification program by going to a trade school for a couple of years or doing an apprenticeship which takes about 2-5 years.
Either way, you will get good at the skills you need for the job like learning about plumbing technology at a vocational school or a community college.
If you go to a trade school, you will have more offers at the end of it because there are lots of places aiming to hire these individuals. Then there is the apprenticeship which gives you the benefit of earning a salary while gaining experience on the field.
Sometimes, you will need to pass an entrance exam or an aptitude test. You might even need to get through a background check and pass a drug test. If you get accepted as an apprentice, you will be assigned to an employer but you might have to find employment on your own.
In the class, you will learn about how to use tools safely and take good care of them. There are also soldering, welding and brazing skills to acquire which you will in a trade school or by being an apprentice.
Classroom learning also gives you the advantage of preparing for field work without actually doing it. That might be an advantage or disadvantage depending on how well you do in theoretical classes.
You will learn about the math that is needed for a plumber. That means measuring pipes, learning about the materials of fixtures and their layouts. You will create drawings that will help you interpret problems and solve them.
This will also help you read blueprints which is an important part of the job. Then there is the matter of learning about plumbing codes and regulations which is mandatory.
If you are an apprentice, you will learn about pneumatics, hydraulics and mechanics. There is also a little bit to learn about electrical work which will teach you how to work with them safely.
Typically, unions and businesses sponsor these programs. They might be less flexible in terms of the work they offer but they will get you paid which is important for some individuals.
You must make sure that the apprentice program is state-recognized and helps you connect with existing licensed plumbers for better job opportunities.
You can become a journeyman plumber, you need educational qualifications or apprenticeship for 1-2 years. This can go up to 5 years in some states wherein you need to have 246 hours of classroom study.
Additionally, you will also need industry experience, which is typically expected to be 12 to 24 months to qualify for the state certification test. Once you pass the test, of course, you will get a journeyman license. The specifics depend on the state where you want a job.
After you gain this experience, the state certification test is the next step. Apprenticeships are well-equipped to prepare you for this exam, which is the good news.
A lot of people go for apprenticeships because it allows them to make some money. And they stay at the journeyman level till they are eligible to become a master plumber, which is the next step.
The amount of time and effort depends on how far you want to go. But after a point, if you are still a journeyman and would like to continue at that level, you should do a continuing education course to renew your license. The same is true if you want to move on to being a master plumber. Here’s the process for that.
Typically, to be a licensed master plumber, you must take a test and pass it. That means you must be eligible for it, which comes from professional plumbing experience for at least 12 to 60 months.
And just like it is with being a journeyman plumber, the rules and regulations are different in different states. A lot of them need you to have at least a couple of years of experience as a journeyman plumber.
Some of them need that number to be 10 years. But once you become a master plumber, you will have more work opportunities and be able to make more money as well. But along with that, you will also have more responsibilities which will need you to have liability insurance, to name one.
You must also familiarize yourself with the licensing guidelines of your state and locality so that you meet the legal obligations as a master plumber. You can usually get this done in about 5 years and then kickstart your own business.
Apart from having the experience of a journeyman plumber, you must also have the ability to supervise because that is a part of the job description. You must have passed the exams, which include written and practical elements.
A quick note about the costs. Plumbing programs in the area depend on the competitiveness of the region. So, an associate degree might cost anywhere from $3,000 to $23,000 per annum. But a certification will be about $1,250 to $3,000.
How far you want to go in this direction is not just about making more money, but willing to take more risks and responsibilities.
You don’t necessarily have to become a master plumber because lots of people are happy being a journeyman plumber their whole lives and they do just fine financially too.