How to Become a Plumber: The Definitive Guide

Plumbers can be a godsend!

It always seems like pipes clog up when you just don’t have time to deal with it.

Thankfully we have plumbers to handle the dirty work.

Plumbers deal with all types of issues from sinks, drains, toilets, and appliances.

Calling a plumber is like calling on a superhero, they’re always willing to help get those pipes unclogged and back in working order!

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What is a Plumber?

Plumbers install and repair pipes that carry liquids such as water, or gases into and out of homes and businesses.

Plumbers also install and repair sinks, toilets, water heaters, and so much more.

The job will take you inside and outdoors, so being comfortable in both atmospheres is a plus.

This is a job where you’ll get dirty, so if you’re worried about germs, maybe you want to steer clear of a career as a plumber.

Duties

  • Prepare and understand the layout of plumbing systems
  • Find and more positions of connections
  • Measure pipes and mark for cutting
  • Cut, thread and bend pipes
  • Install pipes, valves, and fittings
  • Test lines to ensure they are up to local regulations
  • Install equipment like water heaters, boilers, gas appliances, toilets, sinks, etc.
  • Welding
  • Maintaining and repairing problems

Salary

In the United States, the average plumbers salary is around $55,000.

When you first start out, you can make roughly $48,000, but when you get more experience you can make up to $63,000.

Salary ranges depend on education, certifications, specific skill sets, and the number of years you’ve worked as a plumber.

Average National Salary: $55,000

$48K
10%
$52K
25%
$55K
50%
$60K
75%
$63K
90%
*Salary information last updated 2019

Average Annual Salary by State

State Avg. Annual Salary
Alabama $51,202
Alaska $62,007
Arizona $53,539
Arkansas $50,926
California $61,202
Colorado $54,843
Connecticut $61,113
Delaware $59,730
Florida $52,700
Georgia $52,810
Hawaii $58,155
Idaho $51,780
Illinois $54,454
Indiana $52,569
Iowa $51,316
Kansas $53,027
Kentucky $51,014
Louisiana $51,804
Maine $52,928
Maryland $58,973
Massachusetts $60,141
Michigan $54,218
Minnesota $53,759
Mississippi $49,420
Missouri $54,024
Montana $49,623
Nebraska $50,784
Nevada $56,345
New Hampshire $57,816
New Jersey $63,095
New Mexico $50,686
New York $58,379
North Carolina $52,715
North Dakota $50,576
Ohio $53,435
Oklahoma $51,334
Oregon $55,208
Pennsylvania $54,594
Rhode Island $59,346
South Carolina $52,179
South Dakota $47,838
Tennessee $50,907
Texas $52,822
Utah $51,855
Vermont $55,559
Virginia $54,911
Washington $57,935
West Virginia $50,923
Wisconsin $53,791
Wyoming $50,863

How to Become a Plumber

Step 1Get an Education

The first step that you are going to want to take in order to become a plumber is to get your high school diploma or GED.

You’ll want to have basic knowledge of reading, science, math, and writing.

This job requires you to make accurate measurements, so a proficiency in algebra, metric units of measure, and geometry will suit you well.

Other factors that may hinder you from becoming a plumber are hits on your record.

So, try and steer clear of DUI’s, reckless driving convictions, misdemeanors, felonies and failed drug tests.

Step 2Find a Technical Program

After you graduate or get your GED, finding a technical school will help you toward your career of choice.

Many states require that you put in a certain number of hours in the classroom in order to become a licensed plumber.

You can find programs at community colleges, trade institutes, and even the Professional Plumbing Association.

Each state may have different requirements for what type of classes you’ll need to take.

Typically, you’ll take classes like:

  • Draining and venting
  • Local plumbing codes
  • Water heating systems
  • Pipe cutting

Step 3Become an Apprentice

Most states also require that you start out as an apprentice before you can be a licensed plumber.

Some apprenticeships can take two years, while others can take up to five.

One of the good things about doing an apprenticeship, is that you can start while you are still in school.

To find where you can go for an apprenticeship, check out your trade school or organization, they can lead you in the right direction.

You can also check with local plumbing businesses to see if they are hiring apprentices.

Step 4Get Licensed

After you finish those long years of job shadowing, you’ll finally be able to get your license.

Except, you’ll have to take a test.

Most places expect you to take a written exam and a practical exam, before you can become licensed.

Once you pass the test, you are now a licensed plumber!


Education

You need to enroll in a technical program to become a plumber.

After a year in school, you’ll be required to do an apprenticeship for on the job training.

This can take you around five years to complete, depending on where you want to work.

It’s possible to begin your apprenticeship while you’re still in school.

Video About The Career


Licensing

After you complete your apprenticeship, you’ll be required to take a test before getting your plumbing license.

This exam will include written and practical tests that show your strengths and knowledge about the field.

Once you pass the test, you will be a licensed plumber!

Certification Example:

plumber certificate example

Average Training Program Duration: 4+ Years

Popular Degree Programs


Job Outlook

The job outlook for plumbers is great.

The career is on the rise, and in the next ten years will climb 16%.

New homes and new businesses will increase the need for plumbers.

Employment Growth Projection: 16%

480,600
2016
555,800
2026

That's a higher than average projected growth of 75,200 jobs.

Plumber: Interest Over Time


Should You Become a Plumber?

Overall Satisfaction

Overall Satisfaction: High

This job has a lower stress level than a lot of other jobs in the field, but there is rarely an opportunity for upward mobility.

The balance between home life and work is good, which means that the job satisfaction is fairly high for plumbers.

Average Salary

Average Salary: High

The average salary for a plumber is around $48,000.

There are opportunities to make up to $63,000.

When you have more education and special skills, you’ll make more money.

Job Growth Outlook

Job Growth Outlook: High

The growth for this career will be up 16% within the next ten years.

Most demand for this job will be due to new construction of homes and businesses.

Upgrading and updating older homes and businesses will be good for business as well.

Education Duration

Education Duration: 4+ Years

The in-class education takes around a year, but apprenticeship can take up to five years.

You won’t be able to get a job without an apprenticeship.

Most apprenticeships are paid positions.

Personal Skills Needed

Personal Skills Needed

  • Hand eye coordination
  • Ability to work independently
  • Work in varying temperatures
  • Communication skills
  • Customer service skills
  • Physical able to do job
  • Mobility
  • Enjoy hands on work


Frequently Asked Questions

Q. How much does a plumber make?

Typically, a plumber makes around $48,000 a year. Those that have more experience and education can make more.

Q. How to become a licensed plumber?

You must do an apprenticeship for up to five years, and once you have completed your training, you’ll be required to take an exam.

This exam will allow you to become a licensed plumber if you pass it.

Q. How long does it take to become a plumber?

It can take up to five years to become a plumber.

Q. What does a plumber do?

A plumber fixes pipes, installs new fixtures, repairs appliances, and makes sure everything is up to code.

Q. How much does it cost to become a plumber?

An online training program can cost between $800 and $1,000.

An associate’s degree in plumbing, which can take up to two years, costs around $3,000.

Apprenticeships cost between $0 and $500, depending on where you go.

State licensing can cost between $75, and $300, and need to be renewed every two years.


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