Research what it takes to become a plumber. Learn about education requirements, job obligations, average salaries and job prospects to find out if this is the career for you. Plumbers install and repair pipes and piping systems. As a plumber, you'll need to know how to work on a variety of plumbing systems and accessories and understand how to assemble pipes with the right tools.
Plumbers must have good organizational skills and be able to identify and resolve problems. This profession usually involves daily trips to workplaces. Although several plumbers work for plumbing companies, some are self-employed, which means having good business skills. The graphic below gives you an overview of what you need to know to enter this field.
As a plumber, you'll generally be self-employed or work in the construction industry, working for plumbing contractors, government entities, or large companies. It can provide installation and repair services for water, waste or gas systems, as well as their related accessories and appliances, such as bathtubs and sinks. Your tasks may include cutting pipes, made of materials such as copper, plastic or steel, to assemble systems. You can work in one place during a normal day, or you can travel between sites (both residential and commercial) to complete multiple work requests.
Depending on your employer, you may work regular daytime hours or more irregular hours to fit customers' schedules. To become a plumber, you can enroll in an associate pre-learning program offered by a technical or community college, although it's not always necessary. You will most likely have to complete an apprenticeship program with or without previous academic experience in the subject. Your training in a university program will include a technical curriculum that equips you with the skills and knowledge needed to work with a licensed plumber in an internship program.
Internships, which can last 4 to 5 years, require that you be supervised by a licensed plumber and that you learn the tools of the trade on-site. You'll receive classroom instruction in addition to paid on-the-job training. Courses may cover plumbing codes and regulations, plumbing assembly, drafting and safety. Once you've completed an internship, you'll qualify to become an official plumber, which is a generalist plumber who has the knowledge needed to perform plumbing tasks at all stages of construction.
You'll need to obtain a license to work independently as a plumber in most states and communities. The specific licensing requirements vary by region, but you'll typically need to complete 2 to 5 years of experience and pass an exam on general plumbing trade and local plumbing codes. Your state may have different types of licenses available for different levels of plumbers and different plumbing specialties. After completing an internship program, you'll generally need to obtain an officer's license from your state before you can work.
With additional experience and training, you can become licensed as a master plumber and be qualified to hire plumbers and official apprentices. Your state may require you to periodically renew your plumbing license. Careers similar to plumbing include piping installation, boiler manufacturing, and working as a heating, air conditioning and refrigeration (HVAC) technician. Pipeline installers are professionals who install and maintain piping for chemicals, acids, and gases in a variety of environments, including office buildings and factories.
Boilers assemble, install and maintain large boilers, tanks or vats in environments such as factories and ships. HVAC technicians install, maintain, and repair HVACR systems. Generally, all of these occupations require an apprenticeship or certification and a license. The Job Outlook tab describes the factors that affect employment growth or the decline in employment and, in some cases, describes the relationship between the number of job seekers and the number of job offers.
They determine the materials needed for a job, connect the pipes and test the pressure to ensure that a piping system is airtight and airtight. Plumbers who are experts in construction work can help develop drawings that show the location of pipes and fittings. They determine the materials needed for a job, connect pipes, and perform pressure tests to ensure that a piping system is airtight and airtight. Plumbers who are experts in construction work can participate in the development of drawings that show the location of all pipes and fittings.
Of course, existing plumbing systems in the residential and commercial sectors will continue to produce repair and maintenance work for plumbers.