How to Become a Plumber in 5 Simple Steps

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What is a Plumber

Before we start breaking down into simple steps what you need to do, and how to become a plumber let’s see what a plumber is and find out if you are made for this work.

As a plumber you will not only install new faucets and unclog drains. You will be working in commercial and residential areas, water treatment facilities, power plants, factories and water disposal plants maintaining, installing and fixing all kinds of pipeline systems.

While the job duties vary depending on the project you work at and the specialty you have chosen there are certain duties you can expect to perform as a plumber:

  • Installing piping systems
  • Maintaining piping systems
  • Fixing piping systems
  • Working with plumbing tools
  • Reading and follow blueprints
  • Designing piping systems
  • Understanding what materials they need to use and why
  • Performing basic carpentry
  • Attaching and weld fillings
  • Installing fixtures (toilets, showers, bathtubs)

Plumbing Specialties

Pipelayers

Pipelayers install and set piping for different plumbing systems, like storm drains and water mains. If you decide to take this specialization you are expected to grade and dig the trenches where you will install the pipes, install them and attach them together by gluing, welding, or cementing.

Pipefitters and Steamfitters

As a pipefitter you will get mostly involved in huge industrial projects. You will install electricity generation systems, cooling and heating piping systems and maintain them. As a steamfitter you will specialize and work in high pressure piping systems that move liquids and gases like compressed air steam or water.

The average salary of a plumber is $50,660
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What is a Plumber

Becoming a Plumber

Step 1: High School Preparation

Plumber High School Courses

Your first job to become a plumber is to finish high school. All plumber schools require a high school diploma or GED.

You also need to get good grades at certain classes, as employers who are looking for apprenticeship candidates request ACT scores.

Math classes

As a plumber you will have to take measurements and make complicated calculations daily, so taking good grades at courses like algebra and calculus will not only help you get accepted at a school and find an apprenticeship but also will make your daily routine as a plumber easier. It is also a good idea to take geometry classes as it will be a very useful knowledge to have when installing pipes.

Science classes

Another great class to attend and get good grades is physics, especially if you are planning to follow the pipefitting and steamfitting route, because you will be working with high pressure and electrical generation systems.

Computer classes

If you want to advance your plumbing career a good idea is to get Engineering Design/CAD classes. They will help you get accustomed to computer based programs that you will use when you will design a piping system.

Step 2: Get Plumbing Training

Plumbing Certificate Program 6 months to 1 year

These are 28 to 32 semester credit hours programs offered from technical schools and community colleges, they are offered either on campus or online.

They are a great choice for those that want to enter the workforce really quick.

It is relatively easy to get accepted to program like that as you will need only a high school diploma or a GED.

Before you register at a plumbing certificate program make sure it offers the courses that are required from apprenticeship programs.

Curriculum

Core Courses (21 Credits)

  • Applied Algebra
  • Applied Geometry
  • Building Print Reading
  • Piping Systems
  • Pipefitting/Plumbing Con
  • Math for Plumbers and Pipefitters
  • Plumbing Codes
  • Construction First Aid/Safety
  • Piping Print Reading
  • Modern Plumbing
  • Faucets and Fixture Systems
  • Fluid Power: Hydraulics
  • Intro to the Welding Processes

Elective Courses (8 Credits)

  • Fluid Power: Pumps/Systems
  • Fluid Power: Pneumatics/Logic
  • Low/High Pressure Boiler
  • Stationary Steam Engineer
  • SMAW (Flat & Horizontal)
  • SMAW (Vertical and Overhead)
  • Pipe Welding
  • GMAW Welding
  • Pipe Welding Pre-Cert & Test
  • Principles of Producing Hot Water
  • Sewer, HVAC, Recreational, and Irrigation Systems
  • Industrial Piping

The cost of a Plumbing Certificate Program is between $1,500 and $8,500.

Before you decide which training program you will follow, we recommend to contact them for detailed information

Click the button below to get free info about accredited a Plumbing Certificate Program Programs near you.
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Plumbing Technology Associate in Science Degree 2 years

These 60 to 90 semester credit hour programs will give you a more in depth plumbing training.

The admission requirements are identical to those of plumbing certificate programs as you will be asked for a high school diploma or a GED.

They are offered mostly on campus as they will have certain labs that you will need to attend.

Curriculum

Core Courses (48 Credits)

  • Introduction to Plumbing
  • Fundamentals of Plumbing
  • Basic Plumbing principles and Practices
  • Working Drawing and Layout I
  • Plumbing Mathematics and Procedures
  • Introduction to Computers
  • Physical Science and Mechanics for the Pipe Trades
  • Plumbing Drawings
  • Pipes, Valves & Fittings
  • Gas Piping, Venting, and Appliances
  • Special Plumbing Systems
  • Plumbing Practices and Installation
  • Working Drawing II
  • Plumbing Mathematics and Procedures II
  • Installation and Plumbing Fixtures
  • Advanced Layout and Procedures
  • Servicing of Plumbing Fixtures and Appliances
  • Plumbing Code I
  • Special Purpose Installation
  • Occupational Safety for Construction
  • Safety Fundamentals
  • Blueprint Reading

Elective Courses (12 Credits)       

  • Plumbing Layout and Estimating I
  • Plumbing Layout and Estimating II
  • Plumbing Code I
  • Plumbing Code II
  • Backflow Prevention Devices
  • Plumbing Code III
  • Plumbing Installation and Service
  • Cooperative Education
  • (O.S.H.A.) Safety Standards
  • Contractor’s License Law

The cost of a Plumbing Technology Associate in Science Degree is between $5,500 and $29,500.

Before you decide which training program you will follow, we recommend to contact them for detailed information

Click the button below to get free info about accredited Plumbing Technology Associate in Science Degree Programs near you.
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Step 3: Complete a Plumbing Apprenticeship program

This is probably the most important step as you will gain valuable experience while getting paid.

Apprenticeships are 5 year programs mostly run by local plumbers unions.

You will get on the job training under the supervision of a journeyman or a master plumber and also attend classes where you will learn the theory behind plumbing.

If you get accepted to an apprenticeship you will need to fill in 1,700 – 2,000 hours on the job training and at least 246 hours of theoretical classes.

In order to get accepted at a plumber’s union apprenticeship you will need:

  • To be 18 Years old (16 at some programs)
  • A Valid Driver’s License
  • High School Graduate or GED Equivalent Certification
  • Provide Reliable Transportation
  • Social Security Card
  • Physically Able To Perform Daily Plumbing Tasks
  • Take an Aptitude Test
  • Personal Interview
  • Take and Pass a Drug Test

It is a great idea to attend an apprenticeship as you will get paid while getting on the job training under an experienced plumber.

You will also get the theoretical knowledge required to become a great plumber.

If you cannot get accepted for an apprenticeship at your local union you can always contact a local master plumber that has his own business and ask him if he can take you on as an apprentice.

Step 4: Get your plumbing license

The standards for getting licensed vary from state to state but having a 2 to 5 years of working experience along with passing a written exam of the local codes and plumbing trades will get you licensed.

Step 5: Get additional certification (Optional)

Journeyman Plumber’s Exam

Requirements

An affidavit with the signature and the plumber certification number of the master plumber verifying that you have completed your apprenticeship.

Be at least 18 years old.

Submit a registration application at your state’s journey man plumber exam.

Examination

Take the written Journeyman plumber exam

Cost: around $250 (depends on state)

Master plumber Exam

Requirements

The requirements vary from state to state but at the majority you will need at least four to five years of working experience at the journeyman level.

Examination

Take the written master plumber exam. The exams vary from state to state but amongst all of them you will get tested at the following fields:

  • Installation of plumbing systems
  • Managing major plumbing jobs
  • State and federal plumbing codes and regulations
  • Basic and advanced repair and maintenance of plumbing systems

Cost: around $500 (depends on state)

How Long Does it take to Become a Plumber and How Much does it Cost?

Option1: Certificate

Degree Time Cost
Certificate 6 months – 12 months$1,500- $8, 500
Certification 1 month$250- $500
Total 7 months – 13 months $1,750 - $9,000
DegreeTime Cost
Certificate6 months – 12 months$1, 500 - $8, 500
Apprenticeship 5 years-
Certification1 month $250 - $500
Total5 years & 7 months - 6 years & 1 month$1, 750 - $9, 000

Option 2: Associate’s Degree

Degree Time Cost
Associates Degree2 years$5,500 to $29,500
Certification 1 month $250 - $500
Total 2 years & 1 month $5,750 - $30,000
DegreeTime Cost
Associates Degree6 months – 12 months$1, 500 - $8, 500
Apprenticeship 5 years-
Certification1 month $250 - $500
Total5 years & 7 months - 6 years & 1 month$1, 750 - $9, 000
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