Whether it is a recession or a pandemic, we know that there are some jobs that will never go out of fashion. And as long as buildings have pipelines, plumbers will be in demand.
This is just one of the reasons it is a popular career choice. It doesn’t slow down even when the economy does. But that also means it is quite competitive and to have an edge, you need to be prepared.
To be a professional plumber in the US, you need to check the state-wise guidelines and see what is applicable to you. Now, to the procedure in general.
Step 1: Educational Requirements
You will need a high school diploma or a GED which gives you your basic reading and writing skills along with the math and science you need to know for the job. Now, advanced degrees in math and science are very much an advantage in this profession because the job is primarily about gauging water pressure and measuring accurately.
But if you’re still at the high school diploma stage, you need to be good at geometry, algebra, biology, thermodynamics and units of measurement in general but knowing the metric system is particularly helpful even though it is not the common scale of measurement in the US.
Now, you want to make sure you have a clean record when it comes to both driving and criminal background. That’s because potential employers will do a background check and see if you can pass a drug test.
Even training programs are skeptical of hiring you if you have DUIs or convictions for reckless driving, moving violations, misdemeanor offenses (not all but some for sure) and any kind of felony convictions. Obviously, failing drug tests is a big red flag.
Now, you need a functional driver’s license, must have a clean record and no criminal background. That sets you up well for the next step.
Step 2: Technical Training
After you get your high school diploma, you must enroll in a plumbing course that teaches you the technicalities of the job. Depending on the state you want to work in, you might have to log a certain number of hours in class to be eligible for your licensing tests.
Many public and private institutions offer these courses. So, check out your local community colleges, plumbing associations and trade institutions for the relevant information.
No matter where you enroll, you will touch upon topics like:
- Local plumbing codes
- The workings of water heating systems
- Basics of electrical work
- Soldering and pipe cutting fundamentals
- Venting and draining techniques
After this, you will need to find an apprenticeship which is the next step.
Step 3: Apprenticeship
Once again, this depends on your location. You might be required to work with an experienced plumber for a specific number of hours to be eligible to get the plumbing license. In some states, this period is two years and in some, it is as long as five years. But the good news is, you can do this while you are completing your technical course on the side.
Now, the thing about these apprenticeships is that, like the job, they are also extremely competitive. If you finish your coursework and then go for an apprenticeship it might end up being the longer route but you have a better chance at getting the apprenticeship.
In fact, some internships make that a requirement. They will need you to finish a certain number of hours in the classroom so that they don’t have to head back to the drawing room with you. That’s something to check out when you start your apprenticeship. That’s because many prefer to do the job and the course simultaneously to save time.
To find a place for an apprenticeship, you can check with the trade organization or community college where you are getting your technical training. Some of them offer these internships while others will help you with the information. So either way, you will find a solution.
If that does not sound comforting, you can also look into nearby plumbing businesses and see if they are hiring help. If you can manage this before your training is complete, you will get to learn on the job and might even get paid, which is an added benefit. It’s a great earn-and-learn deal.
Meanwhile, you must also remember that some apprenticeships also conduct an aptitude test. This means you will need a driver’s license or a valid ID and proof that you are allowed to legally work in the state/country. This is something you want to check with the school before you enroll so that you are not caught between a rock and a hard place later on.
Then comes the official paperwork.
Step 4: Taking the Test
This is another rule that varies from state to state. While in some states you are required to take a written test, some others need you to pass the practicals. And in some, you might have to do both to get a plumbing license.
You will be eligible for the test once you finish your minimum requirements in terms of classroom education and apprenticeship hours (or years). The exam is to evaluate your ability to tackle a situation in the real world but you will also be tested for textbook knowledge. So, pay attention in your classes and your training.
Once you pass this test, in most states, you will officially be certified eligible to be hired as a plumber. This means you can legally take on contract work without having to be supervised by an experienced plumber every time you step into the field.
The process of getting a plumber’s license is not the toughest thing in the world. You just need to figure out your time and monetary resources so that you know what are the tasks that need to be done simultaneously. You also need to figure out what the laws in your state mandate so that you are not caught off guard after spending a significant amount of time in training or apprenticeship.