Choosing a career for yourself is a rewarding yet daunting decision. It involves a lot of deliberation and demands answers to tough questions. So, if you have managed to answer some life-changing questions and have decided on becoming a plumber, congratulations! Clarity is often the first step to success and a rewarding career.
Deciding what you want to do in life is half the battle won. But once you know what you want, you need to find the right way to get to that.
Becoming a licensed plumber in Alabama would need you to undertake a number of steps including getting the right training, developing the appropriate skill set, undertaking a quality apprenticeship and more. If you are feeling overwhelmed and confused, don’t be. We have you covered.
If you want to embark on a career as a plumber in Alabama, there are a number of things that you need to do. You need to have at least two years of work experience to qualify for the journeyman examination. If you want to qualify for the master examination, you need to have one year of work experience.
Once you pass these examinations, you should collect your certificate within 90 days else you will be required to take the exam again. An apprentice certificate, therefore, is key to becoming and practicing as a plumber in Alabama.
The journey to becoming a plumber starts with an apprenticeship. You should at least do this for two years, though people also do it for longer. But two is a minimum to put you on the path to a solid career.
The way a plumbing career shapes up is that you start as an apprentice and then move on to become a journeyman with your final destination being a master plumber. Along the way, you also need to train in a board-approved plumbing school.
If you are 18 years of age and in possession of a high school diploma, you can enroll in the UA Local 91 training center. There are a number of courses that you will be exposed to, such as pipe fittings, installations, and mathematics and theory around certain concepts. You will also work under master plumbers and that would be a great opportunity to hone your skills.
Here are a few plumbing training schools in Alabama that you can consider:
- Calhoun Community College: If you don’t want to spend a fortune on tuition, you can pursue the free plumbing certification program offered by the college.
- Lawson State Community College: This is usually considered the best school in Alabama to pursue plumbing training. After the completion of the program, you can expect successful advancement in the plumbing industry.
- Bishop State Comunity College: This is a public university based in Alabama that offers some of the best plumbing programs in the state.
An apprentice is a person who is not a journeyman or a plumber but is trained in or working towards learning how to install pipes, equipment and appliances. Such a person works under the supervision of a licensed contractor in most instances.
Apprentices also need to be registered under the state board to get due recognition at the end of their apprenticeship. The procedure involves doing basic paperwork that involves a registration form, some proof of residence and a small fee. There is no written exam.
Once you train for a couple of years as an apprentice, you are free to take the Journeyman Plumbers Licensing Exam and move forth in your career. The Plumbers Training Institute offers some excellent study material to help you ace this exam and you should certainly refer to their course material.
You would, thereafter, be required to work as a journeyman for at least a year before taking your final exam to become a plumber in Alabama.
The exams are held weekly and are conducted by PSI Services, Inc. There are both in-state centers and outside. Currently, the exam is held in Birmingham, Huntsville, Mobile, and Montgomery. You can also request to take the exam outside the state.
The master plumber examination is an open book computerized exam that you have to finish in 4 hours. You will be given 100 questions, out of which you need to get at least 70 right.
The journeyman plumber examination, on the other hand, ought to be finished in 3 hours and there are a total of 70 questions. You need to get 70% of these right i.e. 49 out of 70 questions. That is not that hard an ask if you really want to do this.
You can find answers to all other examination-related questions in this bulletin, here. Remember, to become an apprentice you don’t have to take a written exam.
The best part about these exams is that you get your result as soon as you finish the test. If you pass, you get the score at the moment so no waiting for the results and getting anxious.
If you fail to clear the exam, unfortunately, you will be told about your strengths and weaknesses in the final diagnosis so that you can work on the mistakes and improve in subsequent examinations.
The Career Training base offers apprenticeship programs in Alabama that you can enroll in to hone your skills and progress in your career. The program will teach you how to repair pipes and undertake minor and major fittings and installations in homes and other commercial areas.
You work under a master plumber during the apprenticeship that earns you not just skills but also money, giving you a taste of what to expect as you move along in your career.
A plumber is supposed to be adept in installing and maintaining water systems, assembling pipes and tubes and be knowledgeable and skilled in managing waste disposal systems.
A plumber, on a day-to-day basis, may be expected to perform tasks such as:
- Maintaining hydraulic systems.
- Reading construction blueprints and planning the layout of plumbing and waste disposal.
- Assembling and installing pipes and tubes to already existing infrastructures, both residential and commercial.
- Repairing issues with leaking water pipes and drains.
- Maintaining liquid and gas heating systems.
- Installing plumbing fixtures in houses and commercial buildings.
- Repairing clogged drains and faucets.
This list is by no means exhaustive and there can be tasks that you need to undertake over and above these. It depends also on the contractor you are employed under and the nature of work they undertake.
Sometimes, plumbers do specializations and only work in those domains. For instance, there could be some plumbers who only work in residential apartments, while others may limit themselves to commercial projects and that too for certain jobs.
The same applies to earning potential and there is a wide range. It depends on your skillset, reputation in the market, and years of experience. The more skilled and reputed you are, the more money you will make.
There are those who are employed under annual contracts and then there are freelancers who charge by the hour. Therefore, people recommend socializing and widening your network so that you are exposed to a range of jobs available in the market.
If you are looking for a range, let us give you a basic idea. The average salary or earning could be around $50,000 per annum. Having said that, it can be significantly higher or lower depending on the factors described above.
Hourly rates for someone at the entry-level can begin at $20 and even go up in three figures if your reputation precedes you. The thing to keep in mind, therefore, is that you need to constantly work towards upskilling and improving yourself.
Also, geography plays a role in determining earning potentials. So, a plumber in a more expensive city is going to make more money as opposed to someone in a small borough.
In addition to holding a valid plumbing license and the required skills and experience, there are other things that you need to pay attention to as well. These include soft skills needed to undertake the job and without which you won’t really be able to go a long way.
A plumber must know how to talk to clients and explain difficult concepts to them in an easy manner. Likewise, they should be adept at easing complex situations at work and mitigate problems as and when they arise.
Above all, they should be a good listener and understand the demands of a client to deliver on what is expected of them. Being soft-spoken with an analytical mindset is always going to be beneficial in this stressful job.
They also need to keep their license updated at all times and be in good physical shape because the job can get physically demanding at times and someone who is not fit will struggle to keep up.
Becoming a plumber in Alabama can be a rewarding career choice if you follow the right steps and choose the profession for the right reasons. You need to be ready to undertake a thorough apprenticeship and work under a master plumber for a few years before venturing out as an independent contractor. You also need to invest in both soft skills and technical skills to excel in the job.