How to Become a Plumber in Rhode Island

Plumbing is an honorable position. If you are willing to put in the time and effort required to be a professional plumber, you can earn a very decent salary.

It is a fairly flexible job, as you can choose to win independently and set your own hours and rates or work in a company and enjoy the benefits of working for someone else.

No matter where you work in the United States, you need to attain a plumbing license to practice as a plumber. This can be a little confusing because the requirements for becoming a plumber differ from state to state.

Read on for all the information you need to know if you want to become a plumber in Rhode Island.

What Does Plumbing Entail?

If you plan on taking up plumbing, it is important to know what the job actually entails. The exact job description will depend on what kind of jobs you take up and what your specialization is, but broadly, a plumber does the following jobs in Rhode Island:

  • Installs pipes and pipe fittings in already existing structures or lays down pipes in newly constructed buildings using power tools.
  • Examines plumbing fixtures and pipes and performs diagnostics to find and locate leaks in the system.
  • Installs steep supports from joists in the ceiling to hang pipes.
  • Installs and repairs water appliances like water heaters and dishwashers and fixtures like sinks and toilets. Plumbers also handle pipe fittings, valves, tubings etc. and use hand or power tools for their installation and repair.

Plumbing Apprenticeship Requirements

Before you can become a plumber, you need to undergo training by working as an apprentice to a licensed plumber. You learn everything you need to know to work as a journeyman plumber during your apprenticeship.

You need the following requirements to become an apprentice:

  • Have passed high school or possess a valid GED certificate.
  • Are at least 18 years old.
  • Have filled out the application form and submitted it.

As you can see, the requirements for becoming an apprentice plumber are very basic. This is because you learn everything you need to know during the course of the apprenticeship.

You get practical experience and learn all you need to know for passing the journeyman licensing exam.

The apprenticeship usually lasts 4 years. Trade schools offer apprenticeship programs where you get both classroom knowledge and practical training. You can also apply to a plumber or sponsor and request an apprenticeship directly.

Journeyman Plumber Requirements

To become a journeyman plumber in Rhode Island, you need to pass an exam to get your license. You also need to fulfill some requirements with regard to your apprenticeship and experience.

You need to present proof of:

  • Having completed a 4-year apprenticeship with 8,000 hours of work experience within the last 5 years.
  • The 8,000 hours of apprenticeship should include 576 hours at a state certified training program.

If you meet the above requirements, you can fill out the application form and pay the $75 fee to take the journeyman plumber licensing exam.

The exam has 50 questions, all of which are multiple-choice. You need to be well versed with the Rhode Island version of the BOCA International Plumbing Code 2006 and the State Building Code SBC-3 State Plumbing code.

The exam is not open book like it is in some other states, so you need to be well prepared. The results are declared one week after the exam takes place.

Master Plumber Requirements

The state requirements for becoming a master plumber in Rhode Island are as follows:

  • You must have had a valid journeyman plumber license for a minimum period of 5 years.
  • Fill out and submit the application form for the master plumber licensing exam and pay the application fee of $75.
  • Score a passing grade in the master plumber licensing exam.

There is no higher qualification in the plumbing field as far as Rhode Island is concerned. With a master plumber’s license, you can employ other plumbers or take on apprentices.

You can also start your own plumbing company or enter into a partnership with another master plumber.

Master plumbers are the most well paid and their job is more complex as they also consult with contractors and give their input on the planning of water systems for new buildings.

License Reciprocity in Rhode Island

Rhode Island has complete license reciprocity. This is great news for plumbers looking to find work in Rhode Island, as both journeyman plumbers and master plumbers can apply for a license in Rhode Island without having to undergo additional exams or training.

The basic requirements for practicing as a plumber are still the same. Licensed plumbers from other states looking to practice in Rhode Island will need to present the following:

  • A copy of their current plumbing license.
  • Affidavits that confirm that the applicant has passed the licensing exam in his own state and presently holds a valid plumber’s license.
    The affidavits should also mention that the applicant passed a Board approved written exam that was for the same classification that the applicant is applying for in Rhode Island.
  • Every state has a Board of Plumbing or Irrigation. The Board of the state where the applicant currently holds a license is supposed to submit an attestation to the license status of the applicant to the Board in Rhode Island.

Plumbing Trade Schools in Rhode Island

There are 2 trade schools in Rhode Island that offer plumbing courses. The community college in Rhode Island lets you do an apprenticeship program in plumbing. The New England Institute of Technology offers an associate degree in plumbing.

Here is a brief overview of both the trade schools:

Community College of Rhode Island

The CCRI or the Community College of Rhode Island has 6 campuses all across the state. The plumbing apprenticeship program is offered at the Flanagan campus. The Center for Workforce and Community Education oversees this program.

Students who enroll in the program are required to attend 144 hours of classes every year for 4 years and finish 2,000 years of practical training.

The plumbing apprenticeship program at CCRI is certified by the State Apprenticeship Council of the Department of Labor and Training in Rhode Island.

There are 4 plumbing classes in the program and they need to be taken in their entirety and in the correct order.

There are 3 levels of courses: beginner, mid-level and advanced. Students learn about pipes, pipe fittings, vents, waste management systems, and the basic math and blueprint drawing frequently employed in plumbing in the beginner’s course.

The mid-level courses cover the installation of various plumbing systems. They also cover building codes, machines like sewage pumps, pressure boosters, etc.

The advanced course goes over swimming pools, underground sewage and water pipes, and individual water supply systems.

New England Institute of Technology

The New England Institute of Technology offers a 4-year program in plumbing and heating. The program combines hands-on practical experience with classroom teaching to give the students a wholesome experience.

The course material has been developed by professional and practicing industry workers and is designed to make the graduates ready to take on entry-level positions.

The students learn about pipes, pipe fittings, management of sewage and waste, and water delivery systems. They also learn about the harvesting of rainwater and gray water technology.

Renewing Your Plumber’s License in Rhode Island

Renewing a plumber’s license is very easy and convenient in Rhode Island. It can be done completely online.

All you have to do is enter your identification details, follow the subsequent steps and pay the renewal fee online.

It costs $72 to renew a journeyman plumber license and $240 to renew a master plumber license. As long as you are practicing as a plumber, you do not need to retake any tests or continue with educational activities to be able to renew your license.

Average Salary for Plumbers in Rhode Island

Salary is a major consideration while choosing a life path. A plumber’s salary is highly dependent on their skills and how much they choose to work.

On the lower side of the average, a licensed plumber can earn $52,000 a year. More experienced or more skilled plumbers can earn around $60,000 every year.

The salary can vary depending on your exact location. The hourly rates for plumbers are different in all the big cities in Rhode Island.

The ability to network, whether you are a journeyman plumber or a master plumber, how well you get along with your clients and your skill level all play a role in how much you can earn as a plumber.

Wrapping Up

Plumbing is a solid career choice that is always in demand. There is never a time when people don’t need plumbers. If you are confident in your practical abilities and have good business sense, you could make a great plumber.

Skilled plumbers can earn very handsomely, especially if they are located in the right city. Since Rhode Island has license reciprocity with all the states in the US, plumbers from all across America are free to practice here.

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