How to Become a Plubmer

If you problem-solving skills to determine the causes of leaks in pipes and the technical skills to fix them with tools like pliers and wrenches, you might wonder how to become a plumber. Modern residential and commercial buildings need numerous pipes to carry liquids such as water and gases such as air throughout the structure. Plumbers are the tradespeople who perform the physical work of installing, fixing and replacing these plumbing systems as needed in homes and businesses.

Plumbers work to keep pipes functioning correctly. In new or renovated buildings, they install new plumbing systems, such as pipes, sinks, toilets and bath and shower fixtures. Because mistakes in plumbing can cause damage inside the building and even cause safety risks, plumbers must first review the blueprints of the structure to determine how to install the new system of pipes, and they must obey all local and state regulations regarding construction. When problems such as leaky or clogged pipes arise in existing plumbing systems, these professionals are the repairmen who determine where and how the trouble originated and resolve the issue, often by fixing or replacing broken or displaced components. Many plumbers own their own businesses.

To begin a career as a plumber, candidates typically do not need a formal education beyond a high school diploma. Some aspiring plumbers attend a technical school to learn how to use tools safely and develop skills like welding. However, plumbers typically do most of their training on-the-job through apprenticeships under the guidance and supervision of experienced professionals. These paid apprenticeships may last as long as four to five years, during which the aspiring plumber spends a minimum of 1,700 to 2,000 hours gaining real-world experience and another 246 hours or more in educational studies learning the technical skills they need to succeed.

Apprenticeships expose aspiring plumbers to fields like chemistry and mathematics as needed for their field as well as introducing them to important practical knowledge, such as how to read blueprints and follow local regulations. When they finish their apprenticeships, these aspiring plumbers earn the title of “journey worker,” meaning that they have the skills and education to work without supervision. However, to become a full-fledged plumber, they must earn the appropriate licensure required by state and local governments, typically by successfully completing an exam.

Plumbers earn a median salary of $46,660 per year, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Aspiring plumbers can look forward to a positive job outlook. The BLS anticipates job opportunities for plumbers to increase by 26 percent between 2010 and 2020, as compared to only 14 percent job growth for all occupations during that time. Since many plumbers own their own businesses, they also enjoy perks such as being their own bosses and setting their own schedules and pay rates. If you enjoy doing physical work and are a natural at handling tools knowing how to become a plumber could be the start of an exciting new career.

Featured Degree Programs