In this career guide, I’m gonna teach you, what is a plumber, what they do and how to become a licensed plumber in 6 simple steps. This guide will provide you with the essential information such as plumbers average salary, what skills you need, how long does it take to become a plumber and more.
As a plumber, you have the option to focus on residential plumbing, where you lend a hand to homeowners in handling their plumbing needs, or you can go for commercial plumbing, which involves assisting both large and small businesses.
Now, let’s explore the usual journey of a plumber’s career. Use below table of contents to navigate topics.
Why Pursue A Career As A Plumber In 2023?
Becoming a plumber is great in 2023! It comes with many benefits.
First, there’s a growing demand for plumbing services, so you’ll always have job opportunities.
What’s more, with new buildings going up and older ones needing upgrades to meet water efficiency standards, the need for plumbers will keep increasing, creating more job openings.
So, choosing a career as a plumber in 2023 means you’ll have stable employment, competitive pay, and chances for professional growth and development.
What is a plumber?
A plumber is someone who knows how to install and fix plumbing systems. Plumbers are crucial for installing, fixing, and taking care of plumbing systems, which are vital for clean water, sanitation, and efficient heating.
Plumbers have different levels of expertise, starting from apprentices, then journeypersons, and finally masters. These levels show the amount of experience and skill a plumber has.
For instance, someone who just entered the plumbing trade might call themselves an apprentice plumber, whereas someone with over ten years of professional experience might refer to themselves as a master plumber.
Plumbing refers to the system of pipes, fixtures, and other apparatuses used for the distribution and utilization of water within a building or structure.
What Does A Plumber Do?
Plumbers have an important role in our homes and businesses. They’re the experts who install, fix, and maintain our water supplies, heating systems, and sanitation units. They even make sure everything follows the rules and regulations.
Plumbers often work independently, traveling long or short distances to tackle repairs. They’re skilled at installing toilets, sinks, bathtubs, and other appliances too.
Here are some of the things plumbers do:
- They visit homes and businesses to check and fix plumbing issues.
- Before starting any repairs, they give estimates so you know what to expect.
- If you’re having trouble, they’ll troubleshoot and suggest the best long-term solutions.
- They use blueprints to plan and install new plumbing systems.
- Pipes and fixtures? They handle the installation like pros!
- Special equipment helps them identify and diagnose problems accurately.
- Plus, they can repair a wide range of plumbing-related appliances.
- Cutting, assembling, and welding pipes, tubes, and fittings is all in a day’s work.
- And of course, they make sure everything they do complies with regulations and codes.
Plumbers keep our plumbing running smoothly, so we can enjoy our spaces without worries.
how long does it take to become a plumber
It usually takes about two to five years to become an independent licensed plumber.
To reach the level of a master technician, you’ll need to gain an extra two years of experience.
In total, it can take anywhere from 7 to 10 years of on-the-job training before you can proudly call yourself a master plumber.
How Much Does a Plumber Make
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, licensed plumbers can earn a median salary of $55,160 per year or $26.52 per hour. The highest 10 percent of earners took home around $97,170 annually.
Plumber: Roles & Responsibilities
Installing, Repairing, and Maintaining Plumbing Systems
Plumbers are responsible for installing, repairing, and maintaining various plumbing systems in residential, commercial, and industrial settings. This includes water supply systems, drainage systems, sewage systems, heating systems, and sanitation units. They ensure that all fixtures, pipes, valves, and fittings are properly installed and functioning correctly.
Reading Blueprints and Specifications
Plumbers need to be able to read and interpret drawings, blueprints, and specifications to determine the layout and design of plumbing systems. This involves understanding the location of water supply lines, drainage paths, pipe connections, and fixture placements.
Troubleshooting and Diagnosing Plumbing Issues
Plumbers are skilled at identifying and diagnosing problems with plumbing systems. They use their knowledge and expertise to troubleshoot issues, such as leaks, clogs, or malfunctions, and determine the best course of action for repairs
Pipe Installation and Repair
Plumbers are responsible for cutting, measuring, bending, and threading pipes to the required specifications. They use hand and power tools or machines to join pipes and fittings together, ensuring a secure and watertight connection. Plumbers also conduct pressure tests to check for leaks in the pipes
Plumber: Skills & Qualifications
High School Diploma or GED
Obtaining a high school diploma or a General Education Development (GED) certificate is typically the first step to enter the plumbing profession. Basic knowledge in reading, science, math, and writing is important, as plumbing involves accurate measurements and calculations.
Technical Education and Apprenticeship
Pursuing a plumbing apprenticeship program is crucial for gaining practical training and experience in the field. Many states require a certain number of classroom hours in addition to on-the-job training to become a licensed plumber. Technical programs can be found at community colleges, trade institutes, and vocational schools. These programs teach essential skills such as blueprint reading, drafting, state codes, and OSHA safety regulations
Licensing and Certifications
To become a professional plumber, obtaining a license is often required. The specific licensing requirements vary by state, but it typically involves completing an apprenticeship program, passing an exam, and meeting experience criteria. Additionally, plumbers can pursue certifications to enhance their skills and demonstrate expertise in specialized areas such as backflow prevention, green plumbing, or medical gas systems
Plumbers need to possess a range of skills to excel in their profession. These include:
- Technical Skills: Proficiency in pipe cutting, threading, bending, soldering, welding, and using various hand and power tools for pipe installation and repair.
- Problem-Solving and Troubleshooting: Plumbers should have strong problem-solving skills to diagnose issues, identify solutions, and implement repairs effectively.
- Communication Skills: Effective communication is essential to understand clients’ needs, communicate work progress, and collaborate with team members and other professionals.
- Physical Stamina and Dexterity: Plumbers often work in physically demanding environments, requiring the ability to lift heavy objects, work in confined spaces, and perform tasks that require manual dexterity.
Where Do Plumbers Work?
Plumbers work in various settings, including residential, commercial, and industrial environments. Here are some common places where plumbers may work:
Plumbers often work in residential homes, performing tasks such as installing and repairing plumbing fixtures, water heaters, toilets, sinks, showers, and drainage systems. They may also handle plumbing maintenance and renovations in houses, apartments, and condominiums.
Plumbers are needed in commercial buildings, including offices, retail stores, hotels, restaurants, schools, hospitals, and government facilities. In these settings, they install and maintain plumbing systems for water supply, drainage, and sewage disposal. They may work on larger-scale projects, such as installing complex piping systems or handling plumbing repairs for multiple floors or units.
Plumbers play a crucial role in new construction and building projects. They collaborate with architects, engineers, and construction teams to install plumbing systems according to the building plans and codes. This involves laying pipes, connecting fixtures, and ensuring proper water flow and drainage.
Plumbers can work in industrial settings such as factories, manufacturing plants, power plants, and refineries. In these environments, they install and maintain specialized plumbing systems for industrial processes, such as handling chemical substances, steam, or specialized gases.
Plumbing Service Companies
Many plumbers are employed by plumbing service companies that offer maintenance, repair, and installation services to residential and commercial clients. These companies may handle emergency plumbing repairs, routine maintenance, or larger-scale plumbing projects.
Some plumbers choose to work as self-employed contractors, running their own plumbing businesses. They may offer a range of services, from residential plumbing repairs to larger-scale projects, and may work independently or with a team of plumbers.
How To Become A Licensed Plumber
Here is are six steps if you want to learn how to become a licensed plumber:
Step 1: Complete Your High School Diploma or GED
If you’ve got your GCSEs or you’re currently in secondary school and on track to get your certifications, you can totally go for a plumbing career!
Math is really important in the plumbing business. If you’re thinking about becoming a plumber, it’s great to have a solid understanding of algebra, geometry, metric units of measure, or thermodynamics. Having these skills will really come in handy during your training.
Another thing you might consider is getting a college degree or completing a formal training program before you start looking for plumbing apprenticeships. These types of programs are often available at community colleges or trade schools. While they’re not mandatory, they can make you stand out from other applicants.
Step 2: Attend Plumbing School or Plumbing Course
If you’re keen on plumbing, there’s another method you can consider: an accredited fast-track plumbing course. These courses usually span eight to ten weeks and cover various plumbing practices and techniques.
Opting for this path might serve as an alternative to an apprenticeship, enabling you to dive into plumbing work sooner
In the other hand, you might consider spending around two years attending a plumbing trade school. During this time, you will engage in various plumbing classes that will delve into a wide range of topics, including:
- local plumbing codes and regulations
- pipe fitting
- blueprint reading
>>Learning Resources: 15 Best Plumbing Schools
Step 3:Participate in a Plumbing Apprenticeship Program
If you want to pursue a career as a licensed plumber in the future, it’s important to go through a plumbing apprenticeship program.
These programs offer practical training on the job and cover a range of topics such as OSHA safety, state codes, blueprint reading, and drafting. Throughout the apprenticeship, a skilled master plumber will guide and supervise you.
Before you can take the license exam, you’ll need to fulfill a specific requirement of hours. That’s why most apprenticeship programs typically last between 2 to 5 years.
>>Learning Resources: Find Plumbing Apprenticeship Programs
Step 4: Work as a plumber’s assistant or Helper
Once you’ve wrapped up a speedy training program, you can start off as a plumbing assistant or a plumber’s helper. This fantastic opportunity lets you earn a wage while soaking up priceless knowledge from a seasoned plumber.
As a plumbing assistant, you’ll have the chance to accompany a skilled plumber to various work sites and eventually handle tasks independently, always having your mentor’s guidance to rely on when needed.
Step 5: Become a Journeyman Plumber
After you successfully finish an plumbing apprenticeship, you’ll have the opportunity to apply for plumbing license and become a journeyman plumber. Unlike apprentices, who work under the supervision of a master plumber, journeyman plumbers have the freedom to work independently.
Journeyman plumbers are skilled professionals who can handle a variety of tasks in both residential and commercial settings. Their responsibilities include installing and maintaining sewage disposal and gas lines, as well as fixtures and appliances.
To stay updated, individuals usually need to renew their certification every three to five years, although in some states, renewal may be required annually. These professionals have not only mastered the foundational skills of their trade, but they are also well-versed in the plumbing codes specific to their area.
Additionally, they possess excellent customer service, managerial, troubleshooting, and mechanical skills.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Journeyman Plumbers have the potential to earn a median salary of $55,160 per year or $26.52 per hour.
Next step to become a Master Plumber!
How to Become a Master Plumber
After you become a licensed plumber, depending on which state you’re employed in, you’ll spend a range of two to 10 years as a journeyman. Once that stage is complete, it’s time to step up and become a plumbing master.
As a master plumber, you’ll excel at creating blueprints for piping and fixtures, along with possessing expert knowledge of building codes.
To earn the esteemed title of master plumber and obtain the necessary certification, you’ll need to successfully pass your state’s examination. In certain states, having master plumber status is a requirement for working as a licensed plumbing contractor.
If you’re seeking financial assistance to support your training, we recommend exploring these trades colleges and scholarships designed specifically for construction trades majors. These resources can help alleviate some of the educational costs you may encounter.
How long does it take to become a master plumber?
Becoming a master plumber requires extensive training and passing a state licensing and certification exam. This journey takes around seven to 10 years.
How much does a master plumber make?
The average salary for a Master Plumber is $128,578 per year in United States. Salaries estimates are based on 170 salaries submitted anonymously to Glassdoor by a Master Plumber employees in United States.
The top paying industry for a Master Plumber in United States is Construction, Repair & Maintenance Services with a median total pay of $91,660.
How to Find Plumbing Jobs
Now that you’ve learned how to become a licensed plumber, the next exciting step is crafting an impressive resume that will unlock a flood of job opportunities. Don’t forget to showcase these valuable skills on your plumber resume or cover letter to instantly captivate employers
Once you’ve perfected your resume and cover letter, explore the abundant array of available plumber jobs on Monster. Exciting opportunities await you!
According to the BLS, the top five states for plumbing jobs are:
- New York
The top areas are:
- New York City
- Los Angeles
What are the Plumbing Specialties?
If you’re unsure which path to take in your plumbing career, take a moment to explore the various types of plumbers available. In general, there are five main categories: general plumbers, pipefitters, steamfitters, sprinklerfitters, and pipelayers.
Take a look at the list below to understand the roles and responsibilities associated with each specialty.
General plumbers specialize in repairing water, waste disposal, drainage, and gas systems in residential, commercial, and industrial buildings.
They also handle maintenance services and installations of plumbing fixtures, such as bathtubs, showers, sinks, and toilets.
They may also be involved in installing appliances like dishwashers, waste disposers, and water heaters.
Pipefitters are responsible for assembling and maintaining mechanical piping systems built to withstand high pressure. They play a crucial role in the installation of boilers, furnaces, water tanks, and other pressurized equipment.
Pipefitters also monitor the controls for these systems. Typically, they work across various industries. Don’t forget to read this informative article for more details on becoming a pipefitter.
Steamfitters handle the same systems and projects that pipefitters work on, but they specialize exclusively in installing pipes that carry high-pressure gases and liquids.
Sprinklerfitters install, modify, and inspect sprinkler systems. They meticulously adhere to building code regulations regarding the spacing between sprinklers, pipe size, and the water pressure each pipe can handle.
Pipelayers perform the essential groundwork before laying sewer lines, natural gas or oil pipelines, or large waterlines. They receive training in working with various materials, such as clay, concrete, plastic, or cast-iron pipes.
Before laying the pipes, they diligently prepare and level the trenches either manually or with the aid of machinery.
Frequently Asked Questions About Becoming A Plumber
How long does it take to become a plumber in Australia?
The minimum qualification to become a plumber in Australia is Certificate III in Plumbing. This can be completed as an apprenticeship program by domestic students for the duration of 4 years.
What makes you a plumber?
Plumbers are technically skilled individuals with expert knowledge of pipe systems, sewage removal and septic tanks. Though requirements vary between states, plumbers are generally expected to possess substantial field experience and pass state-approved exams to obtain certification or licensure.
How long is a plumbing apprenticeship in Australia?
Typically, a plumbing apprenticeship takes around four years to complete.
Remember, this guide serves as a starting point, and your determination, passion, and commitment will be the driving forces behind your success. Best of luck on your journey to becoming a highly skilled and sought-after licensed plumber!