Plumbers might be known more for the way their pants slide down than anything else, but they can earn a solid wage and have a good quality of life. It takes some work to become a fully recognized plumber, however, so the decision to become one should be made as soon as possible. If you’ve got good troubleshooting skills and have the ability to work with your hands in tight spaces that will likely get you filthy by the end of the day, then you might enjoy this job as your career.
How Do You Get Started?
Every community has different standards that must be met, so the first step is to look at local plumbing requirements that are dictated by law. In general, however, you’ll need to meet these specific requirements in all circumstances.
- Grade 12 proficiency. You don’t necessarily need to hold a high school diploma, but you do need to be able to prove that you have the knowledge equivalency of one. There are testing locations in most communities that can assist with this process, a GED program, and other local options to pursue that will document or certify that you have this foundation of knowledge.
- Plumbing classes. You don’t need to get a 4 year degree in plumbing from a college, but unless you’ve grown up in a family of plumbers, you’ll likely need some technical courses to develop some of the basic skills you’re going to need like installing a kitchen faucet. Some locations require certification from a school to enter the next phase of the training program.
- An apprenticeship program. The third step in this process is the most important one. A vast majority of plumbers are unionized and will provide you with on-the-job training that will further your skills. The programs are generally 4 or 5 years in length and require a minimum amount of working time to qualify for moving on. Some areas require a 7 year apprenticeship before certifying an individual as a journeyman plumber.
- Become a journeyman. You’ll need a signed document from the master plumber who trained you that you’re ready to take the exam to become a journeyman. This exam is administrated by your local governing officials and will cover all of the needed skills required in order to fix a plumbing issue.
There are a number of sample tests, study guides, and other preparation materials that will cover everything from preparing kitchen faucet reviews to new construction installation to help you ace the real exam!
Next Stop: Becoming a Master Plumber!
Once you’ve passed your journeyman test, most communities will allow you to work independently and even be self-employed if you wish. Over time, you’ll continue to gain experience in the field and you’ll be required to take some ongoing training in the classroom over the years as well. Once you meet your local community standards, you’ll qualify for taking a master plumber’s exam that is also administrated by your local governing body.
As a master plumber, you’ll then be responsible for training new apprentices and be able to command higher pay rates. The entire process generally takes a decade to reach this point, so it isn’t a small commitment to become a plumber. It’s a dirty, messy job that gets into the pipes, drains, and faucets that are in a home, in the structure of the home, and even under the home. It’s also a highly rewarding job because you’re helping people every day. Are you ready to see if it is the right choice for you?