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Breaking into the Plumbing Trade

Broken pipes, clogged drains, flooded floors, clean drinking water. These are reminders of how vital plumbers are in our daily lives. Typically, when you call a plumbing company to fix something, it’s either overflowing booking appointment or no vacancy at all. It’s because there’s a severe shortage of qualified and skilled plumbers across the country.

The aging workforce, combined with the young people’s aversion to trade professions, are what contribute to the lack of these experts. And it’s only going to initiate a massive hit in the country’s job opportunities. There’s a demand for good plumbers, which means now is the time to consider entering the industry. In today’s article, we’ll discuss what qualifications and skills you need to acquire in order to be successful in the field.

Job Description

Plumbers are considered heroes when it comes to the repair and installation of appliances that need a good water flow. Depending on the work at hand, a plumber’s responsibility can range from unclogging drains to designing new pipes for a new build. Here are the other primary duties of a plumber:

  • Comply with local and state building codes and regulations and be able to understand construction blueprints.
  • Inspect and troubleshoot existing or future plumbing problems.
  • Know the types of piping system and determine what structures and properties require and how to connect them correctly.
  • Must know basic carpentry including welding and attaching fillings.

Job Requirements

  • Must be a minimum of 18 years old
  • Must have a High School Diploma or GED
  • Must have a clean drug test
  • Must have a working knowledge of computers
  • Must have received training at a community college program or a trade school
  • Must complete an apprenticeship program that typically takes four to five years. This will allow you to have valuable on-the-job-training and much-needed exposure to the industry.
  • Must have plumbing license that meets the state’s requirements.

Licensing and Certification

The state government regulates the licensing for this trade, not federal. Check your state’s website to see the full licensing requirements for any general contractors. Most states require two to five years of plumbing work before you are allowed to take the licensing exam.

If you are working as an unlicensed plumber, you will be subject to monetary fines and could lead to you not being allowed to practice the trade altogether. Certifications, on the other hand, are not necessarily a requirement. They do, however, help regarding career advancement. Once the apprenticeship is completed, and the license is acquired, you will be qualified to take certification exams.

Apprenticeship, Journeyman, Master Plumbers

Apprenticeship

The easiest way to get an apprenticeship is through a plumbers association or studying at a licensed plumbing company. Plumber apprentices shadow a journeyman or master plumber to get on-the-job training and coursework. Most apprenticeship programs are on average 2,500 hours long, with 246 classroom hours. They take two to six years to complete

Journeyman

Journeyman plumbers are those who have completed an apprenticeship program and passed the licensing exam so that they can perform the job on their own. There are licensing exam renewals required to continue practicing the trade – depending on your jurisdiction.

Master Plumber

Up to two consistent years of professional work as a journeyman is required to be a master plumber. There are also written and practical exams you need to pass. Master plumbers assume supervisory roles and are qualified to plan and design a property’s complete plumbing system.

Education

Aside from trying to acquire an apprenticeship and hoping to get it right away, you may also enter a certificate or associate’s degree plumbing program to break into the field. Completing these programs will surely get you an apprenticeship.

Salary

The salary of plumbers relies on what state they are located. According to PayScale, the median annual salary is $50,164. Those starting out in the field can bring home around $30,000, while more experienced ones can earn upwards of $80,000. Apprentices can make between 40%-60% of what licensed and certified plumbers earn. With this profession, the more you learn, the more you’ll earn. It’s not uncommon for seasoned plumbers to make six figures salary per year.

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