If you are considering becoming a plumber, it is indeed a viable and honorable career path. It requires training and a lot of hard work, but it can be a very fulfilling line of work.
All states in America have their own licensing process in place to certify plumbers. If you want to work as a plumber in Indiana, you will need to be licensed by the state of Indiana to be able to legally work as a plumber here.
Read on for an extensive breakdown of how to become a licensed plumber in Indiana:
There are several steps to becoming a licensed plumber in Indiana. You have to complete an apprenticeship program and pass a licensing exam to be able to work as a plumber.
You need to go through the following steps to become a licensed plumber in Indiana:
You need to have finished high school and have a high school diploma if you want to become a plumber. You will need to eventually complete a college course or trade school program as part of your training, so you need a high school diploma.
If you didn’t finish high school, you can get a GED as an adult as it is equivalent to a high school diploma.
Before you start working as a plumber, you need some basic technical knowledge. Many colleges and trade schools offer training programs that prepare you for the licensing exam and give you some basic training.
It is important to choose a good school as the plumbing program helps you gain fundamental knowledge about the plumbing trade.
If you want to be sure that you gain the proper skills and pass the licensing exam on the first try, choosing a good school is very important.
These courses usually take 6 months to 1 year, as they are only 1 or 2 semesters long. Some trade schools offer apprenticeship programs, in which case the course will be 4 years long.
The apprenticeship is where you learn everything you need to know to become a plumber. It gives you the extensive experience of working as a plumber and you understand how different systems work and the kinds of jobs plumbers usually do.
The focus is on getting practical knowledge, but there is also a theoretical component you need to finish. It will involve best practices, safety protocols, the technical working of water and sewage systems and reading blueprints.
It can take about 5 years to complete your apprenticeship. By the end, you will be ready to sit for the licensing exam and start working as a professional plumber.
The final step is to pass the licensing exam. Your experience as an apprentice and your training course will have prepared you to pass the exam. There is 1 theoretical section and 2 practical sections to test your abilities across various aspects.
The written exam will test you on various topics like watery distribution and supply systems, various fixtures, vents, business, drainage systems, heating systems, etc.
You need to register at least 1 week prior to the exam. Fill out the application form, pay the $75 application fee and submit proof of your apprenticeship.
If you fail the exam, you are allowed to attempt it again after a period of 10 days. Note that you are only allowed to take the exam 6 times in 2 years.
There are 3 different kinds of working plumbers: apprentices, journeyman plumbers and plumbing contractors. Apprentices do not need a license but they need to be registered whereas journeyman plumbers and contractors need to be licensed.
Here are the requirements for each type of plumber:
Apprentices need to complete the following requirements:
- Be 17 years of age
- Have a high school diploma or GED
- Pay a $10 registration fee and subsequently a $10 renewal fee every year
- Be registered in an approved apprenticeship program
Journeyman plumbers need to be licensed. This means that you have to pass the licensing exam before you can start working as a professional plumber. You also need the following requirements:
- You need to be at least 18 years of age
- You have finished 4 years of apprenticeship or you are already licensed as a plumber in a different state
- A passport size photograph
- Finish the application form and submit it with the $30 application fee
Most states offer a master plumber certification after journeyman plumber, but the title doesn’t exist in Indiana. A plumbing contractor is the next level after obtaining a journeyman plumber’s license.
Plumbing contractors are qualified to work on more complex, large-scale plumbing jobs. They are in charge of whole projects and employ journeyman plumbers to work under their supervision.
If you plan on starting your own company or you want to enter into a partnership with other plumbers, you will need a contractor’s license. Here are the requirements for obtaining a contractor’s license:
- You need to be at least 18 years of age
- Have completed a 4-year-long apprenticeship or have a plumber’s license in a different state
- Have completed 4 years as a licensed plumber working for a licensed contractor
- A passport size photograph
- Fill out the application form and pay the $50 application fee
Plumbing licenses are not valid forever. They need to be renewed every year. You don’t need to pass the exam again or prove competency, but there is a small renewal fee.
- Apprentices need to pay a $10 renewal fee for every year they work as an apprentice.
- Journeyman plumbers pay a $30 fee every 2 years.
- Plumbing contractors pay a $50 fee every 2 years.
There are several different training courses for aspiring plumbers in Indiana. Completing a training program from a good school makes it easier to find a good apprenticeship and helps you become a good plumber.
- Ivy Tech Community College: This is a 2-year college that offers 2 different plumbing courses. A lot of students finish the plumbing course and go on to become professional plumbers.
- Vincennes University: They offer 2 plumbing degree courses. It is a 4-year university, so you can pursue supplementary courses if you wish.
Trade schools are a great way to get some hands-on experience in a structured manner. You are taught by licensed professionals working in the field and you get both classroom knowledge and practical experience.
Here are some of the trade schools offering plumbing programs in Indiana:
- Indiana Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors Association: They have a 4-year plumbing course that costs $2,520 every year. The cost is considerably reduced if you are a member—it only costs $1,260 per year.
- Mechanical Skills Inc: They offer a 4-year plumbing program that costs students $1,125 every semester. You get to attend classes and gain practical experience too. For members, the cost is reduced to $725 a semester.
- St. Joe Valley: They have a 5-year plumbing program where you specialize in commercial and residential plumbing. If you want to specialize in addition to completing an apprenticeship, this program is worth looking into.
The average salary of a plumber varies slightly based on the city you’re in and the current demand, but you can expect to earn around the average rate in almost all cities:
- Apprentices can expect to make $43,300 a year once they have 1-2 years of experience.
- Journeyman plumbers make $54,000 on average in Indiana.
- Contractors make around $60,000 a year on average.
There are certainly a lot of benefits to joining a plumber’s union in Indiana. It can be a lot of help in navigating the long journey of becoming a plumber and getting to know members of the same community always comes in handy.
Unions can help you find an apprenticeship, give you guidance on preparing for the licensing exam and help you with the process of becoming a journeyman plumber. They will also help you advertise your business should you choose to start one.
Like all working professionals, plumbers do need insurance. Your insurance policy must cover you and your employees should you choose to hire any.
The plumber’s insurance will cover any possible injury you experience on the job or any accidental damage you cause while working.
Becoming a plumber is not an easy task. It takes a lot of hard work and commitment over the years to successfully complete all the requirements necessary to become a professional plumber.
Nevertheless, it can be a very fulfilling profession if you choose to pursue it. There is always demand for plumbers and knowing a trade always comes in handy.
You always have the option of establishing your own business and employing or creating a partnership with other plumbers, so there is a lot of growth potential.