How To Become A Plumber In 2021

There’s never been a better time to consider becoming a plumber. It's one of the few “recession-proof” career fields. Plumbers not only address leaky systems in homes or help install new pipes and lines in commercial buildings but they also take care of public health and sanitation systems. Plus, a whole host of other absolutely essential platforms they're specifically trained to maintain, repair, and upgrade. On top of that, plumbing also happens to be a particularly lucrative career as well. 

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According to ZipRecruiter, the average plumber makes $29 per hour (as of 2021), with a considerable amount of plumbers with even just a couple of years worth of experience under their belt can make even more with an average high of $46 per hour. You also have plenty of opportunities to go out on your own and build your own plumbing business, an entrepreneurial decision that can totally transform your financial future much faster. 

At the same time, there is a distinct process that you have to follow to become a plumber. It takes a decent amount of time and a decent amount of training. Below we dig a little bit deeper into the process of becoming a plumber so that you can hit the ground running.

A Guide On How To Become A Plumber In 2021

Foundational Education

One of the great things about becoming a plumber is that you don't necessarily need to have any real formal education as far as traditional schooling is concerned.

There are plenty of plumbers that only have a high school diploma or a GED, but there are also quite a few very successful plumbers that dropped out of school when they were younger and immediately took to the trades as well. 

Obviously, your educational accomplishments will certainly help you navigate plumbing training courses more effectively, especially if you have a high school diploma or if you already have a college degree.

Technical Training For Plumbers

The next piece of the puzzle is to find a technical trade school or a plumbing company that is willing to hire you on as an apprentice to help you become a plumber and then hopefully into a licensed journeyman plumber.

Before you apply for a plumbing apprenticeship, you want to look into your state licensing laws to determine whether or not you live in one of the states that require you to have a specific amount of classroom hours to get your plumbing license. 

Community colleges, local chapter of plumbing associations, and plumbing unions can provide you with more resources about technical trade schools and training opportunities. Even local plumbing companies should be able to point you in the right direction if this kind of formal training is necessary. 

These kinds of technical classes mostly always cover draining, venting, the basics of plumbing systems, and how they work in connection with one another. Local plumbing codes, laws, rules, regulations, and pipe cutting are also covered.

Plumbing Apprenticeships

The next thing you’ll need to do to become a plumber after your technical training has been successfully completed is to be hired on as an apprentice with a local plumbing company.

The majority of states throughout the US require you to be an apprentice for two years (while some require up to five years). With a plumbing apprenticeship, you learn on the job under the direct tutelage of master plumbers before you’re able to become a licensed journeyman plumber and hopefully master plumber one day.

Plumbing apprenticeship programs help you get a lot more real-world education and training for how plumbing systems work that classroom programs just can’t offer. The other advantage is that you will be getting paid to learn rather than paying the technical school to train you!

Plumbing License Requirements

After your apprenticeship has concluded you’ll have an opportunity to pursue a journeyman plumber license or a master’s license to advance your plumbing career, depending on local laws, rules, and regulations.

These licensing applications are usually pretty simple and straightforward to fill out, and you’ll also almost always have to successfully complete a licensing examination.

There are plenty of resources out there to study up on the kinds of questions asked on these tests and exams, but it’s not a bad idea to ask fellow coworkers that are journeyman or master plumbers about what their experience was like. 

You’ll have to prove that you have fulfilled your apprenticeship requirements, pay a small fee, and then move through the entire process. It usually takes anywhere from two weeks to six weeks or so to actually get your license. 

From there on out, you will be a licensed plumber and will have a world of opportunities in front of you to take advantage of with your new plumbing career.

Once that is done there are 3 paths you can take:

  • You can continue to work as a licensed plumber for the same company you did your apprenticeship with. Some companies will have requirements like working with them for a certain amount of years if you get an apprenticeship with them, before you can switch plumbing jobs.
  • Plot your own course as a subcontractor for plumbing jobs. This is often much easier than starting your own business.
  • Open your own plumbing business. But I would not recommend until you have few years of experience already as a master plumber so you can learn to market yourself properly and get enough plumbing jobs. Plus, you will also want to have enough money saved up to cover things like commercial insurance and the right licenses to do any kind of plumbing services.

There’s never been a better time to get into the world of plumbing than now. The educational costs are significantly lower than college — both in the short and long-term. The ability to earn a fantastic wage right out of the gate is top-tier, and your career prospects with regards to job security are bright regardless of what the overall economy looks like.

About the author 

Ryan Thompson is a residential and commercial plumber from Miami, Florida. He has over 20+ years of plumbing experience. He is also a huge DIY enthusiast who does all types of improvement projects around the house.

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