Plumbing Schools and Apprenticeships

Plumbing SchoolsPlumbing schools can give you the skills and knowledge you will need to be successful. Training programs often take less than 6 months to complete. Plumbers repair and install pipes that carry gases or liquids from, to, and within homes, businesses and factories. They work in a variety of different environments and are often exposed to dangerous situations. The job outlook is very good and plumber salary is competitive.

Now is the perfect time to find plumbing schools in your area and enroll!

Plumber Career at a Glance

2015 Median Pay $50,620 per year
$24.34 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education High school diploma or equivalent
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training Apprenticeship
Number of Jobs, 2014 425,800
Job Outlook, 2014-24 12% (Faster than average)
Employment Change, 2014-24 49,100

Recommended Plumbing Schools

Duties and Responsibilities

Plumbing schools teach students how to carry out complex tasks. Common plumber duties and responsibilities include:

  • Install fixtures and pipes
  • Follow local and state building codes and study blueprints
  • Test and inspect pipelines and pipe systems
  • Determine the type of equipment and amount of material needed for jobs
  • Replace worn parts
  • Troubleshoot systems that aren’t working

Plumbing Schools and Training

Plumbing schools and training programs can usually be completed in less than 6 months. Some plumbers learn their trade through a 4-5 year apprenticeship program. Each year, apprentices must have at least 246 hours of technical education and 1,700 hours of paid on-the-job training to continue the apprenticeship.

In the classroom, apprentices learn local plumbing regulations and codes, safety, and blueprint reading. They also study chemistry, applied physics, and mathematics.

Apprenticeship programs are offered by businesses and unions. Many workers enter apprenticeships directly, but some start out as assistants. Some apprenticeship programs give special preference to military veterans. To enter an apprenticeship program, a trainee must meet the following requirements:

  • Have a high school degree or equivalent
  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Pass a substance abuse (drug) test
  • Pass a basic math exam
  • Know how to use computers

Certifications, Licenses, and Registration

Most cities and states require plumbers to be licensed. Although licensing requirements vary, most states and localities require workers to have 2 to 5 years of experience and to pass an exam that shows their knowledge of the trade and of local plumbing codes before they are permitted to work independently.

Several states require pipefitters to be licensed. Some states require a special license to work on gas lines. Obtaining a license requires taking a test, gaining experience through work, or both. Each state’s licensing board will have more information. It is common that plumbing schools assist with certification and licensing at the end of the program.

Plumber Salary

Plumber SalaryAccording to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average electrician salary in 2015 was $50,620 per year, or about $24 per hour. The starting pay for plumbing apprentices is normally between 40-50% of the full plumber salary. Apprentices often receive pay increases as they learn to do more and take on more responsibilities.

In 2014, about 1 in 10 plumbers were self-employed. Self-employed plumbers may have the ability to set their own schedule and are more likely to deal with after-hours emergencies and repairs.

Plumber Jobs

The BLS has projected plumber jobs to grow by 12% over the next ten years. This growth is expected to create more than 49,000 new plumber jobs by 2024. Now is the perfect time to search for plumbing schools and enroll!

Stricter efficiency standards for plumbing systems (e.g., low flow water heaters and toilets) and new building construction will create new plumber jobs. The retrofitting and construction of factories and power plants cold create demand for steamfitters and pipefitters. Sprinkler fitter installation is expected to increase as states continue to adopt changes to building codes requiring the use of fire suppression systems.

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Job Prospects

Overall job growth is expected to be good. Some employers continue to report difficulty finding qualified plumbers. This is great news for you! By completing training from plumbing schools, you can learn the skills necessary to qualify for these jobs.  In addition, more job openings are expected due to many plumbers, steamfitters, and pipefitters are retiring over the next 10 years. Workers with military service/experience and knowledge of Building Information Modeling (BIM) are viewed favorably and should have the best job opportunities.

Work Environment

Plumber Work EnvironmentPlumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters held about 425,000 jobs in 2014, of which 61% work in the plumbing, air-conditioning and heating contractors industry. Approximately 1 in 10 plumbers are self-employed.

Plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters work in factories, businesses, homes, and other places where there are septic systems or pipes.

Some plumbers travel to different worksites every day. Plumbers and fitters often must work in tight spaces, climb ladders, and lift heavy materials. A few plumbers work outdoors, even in inclement weather.

Important Qualities

Training programs at plumbing schools teach you the main technical skills you will need to be successful. Here are some of the important qualities of a qualified plumber:

Business skills. Self-employed plumbers must be able to bid on jobs, direct workers, and plan schedules.

Physical strength. Plumbers must be strong enough to move and lift heavy pipes and materials.

Customer-service skills. Plumbers should be courteous and polite because they regularly interact with customers.

Troubleshooting skills. Plumbers find, diagnose, and repair problems. They must be able to pinpoint the location of the problem, conduct tests, and propose the appropriate solution.

Mechanical skills. Plumbers use many different tools on their jobs to repair and assemble pipe systems. Successfully repairing, maintaining, or installing a system is crucial and knowing the appropriate tools is very important.