Running water and functional waste systems are only some of the luxuries we can enjoy, thanks to the work of plumbers. Due to their importance, the plumbing profession is always in high demand.
Becoming a plumber can also be a fulfilling experience, not only in terms of the salary and work environment but also due to the potential growth and ability to acquire more knowledge on the job.
If you would like to consider a career as a plumber, below is a detailed guide on everything you need to know, including requirements to become one, duties and responsibilities, and potential salary.
Plumbers install, maintain, repair, and upgrade commercial and residential plumbing systems. Everyone uses plumbing in one form or another, most times even in multiple forms, and as such, plumbers are always needed.
Career-wise, plumbers don’t just enjoy security in their jobs; they also want a very reasonable salary that gets higher with more time and experience. Even though many opt for one, no law or convention mandates formal education for plumbers.
For anyone who wouldn’t mind working in tight quarters and with drains, a career in plumbing is a veritable alternative to consider.
Plumbers Work Environment
Plumbers work in commercial or residential environments. Being a very flexible job, most plumbers often alternate between both areas throughout their careers.
The most flexible group of plumbers are independent contractors. Independent plumbers take on various plumbing problems and work in multiple places daily.
Those needing more stability in the work environment can optimize for larger jobs such as home construction or remodeling. In this case, most of their days will be spent on the site in question.
Lastly, as mentioned earlier, a plumber should be comfortable with working in tight spaces, crawlspaces, and uncomfortable positions.
Steps to Becoming a Plumber
Becoming a plumber is a straightforward path. It involves a mixture of compulsory and optional steps. We list all of these below:
Step 1: Educational Prerequisite
Often, aspiring plumbers choose to acquire formal training at a recognized institution. Luckily, most institutions have the exact requirements before admission, and that’s the possession of a high school diploma or GED by interested candidates.
Most schools also stipulate that candidates must be 18 years old to apply.
Step 2: Formal Training Program
Becoming a plumber through a formal certificate program has a handful of benefits. One of these is that it makes you appealing to employers. It also provides a deeper understanding of the business side of the profession for those who would like to branch out on their own.
Furthermore, formal education at an accredited program is mandatory for those who wish to specialize in medical gas piping installation.
Step 3: Apprenticeship Program
Apart from medical gas piping installation, formal education is entirely optional for a plumber. Most argue that the most crucial step in becoming a plumber is to acquire hands-on, real-world experience through an apprenticeship program.
Sometimes, state licensing requirements also include specific apprenticeship hours (usually 4 years). It is standard for community colleges and training schools to have an apprenticeship program or internship requirement as part of their curriculum.
Lastly, while getting paid as an apprentice is possible, it’s not wise to expect something too significant in that regard.
Step 4: Licensing
After completing their apprenticeships, aspiring plumbers’ next step is obtaining a license as a journeyman plumber. The Journeyman license has varying requirements based on the particular state in question. Most states, however, require at least 4 years of apprenticeship experience.
Individuals must also pass the certifying licensing exam, which covers, among other things, the updated Uniform Plumbing Code.
Another benefit of studying in a formal training program is that it provides a structured learning environment to prepare for and pass the licensing exam.
Step 5: Continuing Education
Any plumber who wishes to maintain their state licensing must continue to improve themselves by keeping up with advances in the field through continuing education. Because state licensing is essential for a plumber, continuing education is often more than just a choice, as it is in some other professions.
Regardless of the mandate, however, continuing education is always a great idea as it ensures that you’re always kept in your field by new graduates.
Professional Plumbing Organizations
Professional organizations are crucial to any trade. Some of their benefits include providing a sense of camaraderie for professionals with a shared experience, providing resources for excelling on the job, continuing education, organizing workshops and seminars, and special certifications.
The following are some of the most popular professional organizations for a plumber.
*American Society of Plumbing Engineers
- United Association: Union of Plumbers, Fitters, Welders, and Service Techs
- Plumbing Contractors of America
- Water Quality Association
- Plumbing Heating Cooling Contractors Association
- National Kitchen and Bath Association
Plumber Salary & Career Outlook
Given how dependent we all are on plumbing in our daily lives, it is safe to say that the demand for plumbers will continue to be on the rise. The Bureau of Labor Statistics backs up this sentiment with a2 percent growth projection between 2021 and 2031.
This will see about 48,600 new plumbing jobs created every year. Many openings will arise due to our dependence on plumbing and old workers retiring or moving on to new avenues.
Anyone who manages to become a plumber during this period can expect to earn a median annual salary of $59,880. It can fall into the lower 10% earnings and take home about $36,700.
This may be due to location, experience, and industry. Those who fall into the top 10% can expect to earn about $99,920 annually.