How to Become
Best Education Tracks, Key Skills, and Top Certifications
Plumbing is a trade that can provide you with a constant and stable income. By becoming a plumber, you can work in any country around the world. However, you still need to get a formal education and a license to work in this field.
If you’re interested in becoming a plumber, take a look at our comprehensive guide. We’ve compiled some key facts about how to become a plumber, such as the average salary, job outlook, education pathways, and more.
What Is a Plumber?
A plumber is a skilled worker who maintains and fixes sanitation units, piping systems, and even heating devices. They occasionally install and maintain water and gas supplies. Plumbers can work in both homes and offices, and they have their own codes and regulations to make sure their work meets safety standards.
Other responsibilities include troubleshooting plumbing problems and installing sinks and other plumbing-reliant systems. Most plumbers have to identify problems on the spot when there are leaks or breaches.
What Type of School Should You Attend
to Become a Plumber?
To become a plumber, you can attend a trade school and complete an apprenticeship. You don’t need to go to college, but you still need to get a high school diploma or equivalent certificate. This means you can undergo training at a trade school, or vocational school, before learning on the job with an apprenticeship.
Graduating from a trade school will help you get certified, and you can officially start working as a plumber. Keep in mind that you should also work on soft skills like logical thinking and communication.
Best Plumber Education Tracks
To become a plumber, you must understand how plumbing systems work. That’s why a vocational school and a plumber apprenticeship are the best ways to learn the trade. However, you can also attend other courses to extend your knowledge.
Vocational school, often called vocational college, is a variation of post-secondary education. You can learn the technical skills to be able to work in a particular job. You can gain a qualification in just two years, whereas a university degree takes four years.
This is the first step to get started in your plumbing career. A vocational program can teach you all about pipe fitting, drain cleaning, and home sanitation installation. Graduating from this type of school will help you get certified as a plumber.
Assuming you live on campus while you study, the average total cost of attending a two-year institution is $16,445 per year, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. If you can live at home, the average total cost drops to $10,024 per year.
An apprenticeship can give you job experience and specialized skills. It can help you understand plumbing codes, best techniques, and different specialties. You can work on the maintenance of heating and cooling appliances, specialize in sanitation installation, or focus on becoming a pipe fitter. There are lots of options in the world of plumbing.
A Union Association apprenticeship may last from one to five years. Not all programs do this, but some apprenticeships ask that you take classes before you start working in the field. This can help ensure you have the right skills.
If you want to take it to the next level, you can attend a plumbing course to learn other particular skills in the field. Most plumbing courses are short-term programs. You can take a course to update your skills and become a better plumber. Try looking for courses in your area to see what you can learn.
How to Become a Plumber: A Step-by-Step Guide
To become a plumber, you need to follow a few fundamental steps. Read below to learn how to get started in a plumbing career.
Get a high school diploma
First, you need to obtain a high school diploma. You need to finish high school or get an equivalent certificate to become a plumber.
Attend a trade school
Your next step is to get job training at a trade school. This will give you the fundamental tools and core skills you need to start working as a plumber.
Complete an apprenticeship
An apprenticeship program is the best way to continue developing your skills. You will learn hands-on skills and get experience working in the field.
Get a license
Once you have a certain number of working hours, you can get your plumbing license. If you’re eligible, you will need to pass the licensing exam. You should do your research to see what your location requires.
Begin the job hunt
Once you have your license, it’s time for the job hunt. Your apprenticeship can help you get a job, or you can search on your own. Either way, you should put your best foot forward.
Key Plumber Skills
A plumber needs many different skills to succeed in their work. These include hard and soft skills. Below, we have listed some of the key skills you need to become a plumber.
As a plumber, you will generally work with metal. Therefore, you must be able to weld and solder when necessary. These are important skills because they can help you attach piping and fix leaks.
Performing pressure tests is another common task in the daily life of a plumber. A pressure test is used to determine the operability of a pipe system. You will do this by inserting an inflatable test ball into the sewer system to determine whether there are any leaks or issues.
Plumbers must be able to troubleshoot a variety of issues in a plumbing system. As a plumber, you need to know exactly how to maintain pipes. With this knowledge, you will be able to solve problems in the field.
Plumber Salary and Job Outlook
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), a plumber’s average salary is $56,330. This is close to the average national salary. However, you can make more money depending on your workflow, experience, and skills.
The BLS also estimates that the demand for plumbers will grow by four percent by 2029. Again, this is similar to the national median job growth.
Entry-Level Plumber Job Requirements
To work in an entry-level plumbing position, you need to complete an apprenticeship. This means you are qualified to work under the supervision of a more advanced plumber. Then, once you get experience in the field, you’ll be able to scale to a higher position.
According to ZipRecruiter, the average entry-level plumber makes about $35,000 per year.
What Does a Plumber Do?
A plumber has many different responsibilities. These range from maintaining pipe systems to installing devices like dishwashers or washing machines. Read below for some of the main tasks that plumbers need to perform.
One of the main responsibilities that a plumber has is to install home appliances. They could be dishwashers, water heaters, or even refrigerators. A plumber is required for these installations because they all involve plumbing in some way.
Drain cleaning is one of the most common jobs performed by a plumber. It involves using chemicals or a drain snake to unblock drains and enhance water flow. Although most people can fix small issues on their own, plumbers need to come in often.
Installs Pipe Systems
Installing pipe systems is an important task for plumbers. As a plumber, you need to evaluate your local plumbing codes before getting started. Then, you will work with vent pipes and drain lines before installing fixtures like a sink or toilet.
One of the best ways to boost your career as a plumber is to get a certification. It will validate that you have the core skills needed to perform certain tasks. The following two certifications are the most common options.
UPC Journey-Level Plumber
This certification is designed for people who want to obtain a journey-level validation of their skills. This means that you have the competencies to work without the supervision of a more experienced coworker.
This certification covers topics like plumbing fixtures, firestop protection, and simple physics fundamentals. To be eligible for this certification, you must have an apprenticeship diploma and four years of plumbing experience. This is the first certification you should try to get.
UPC Master-Level Plumber
This certification validates that you have expert plumbing skills. These include sewage maintenance, piping troubleshooting, construction skills, and installation skills. You should be able to work in both residential and commercial locations.
To be eligible for this certification, you must have six years of experience in the plumbing industry. In addition, you should also have an apprenticeship accredited by the federal government.
How to Prepare for Your Plumber Job Interview
To ace your job interview, you should become familiar with the company, job description, and location. Whether you’ll be working for a company or residential clients, make sure you understand your local plumbing codes.
In your interview, they might ask you about the estimated fee for a project and your operating hours. You must be able to evaluate the skills and time you need for certain operations. Below are some of the most common questions you might get during a plumbing job interview.
Plumber Job Interview Practice Questions
- Do you have any specialties?
- What are your go-to tools to unclog a sink?
- What type of chemicals would you use for drain cleaning?
- What are the safety rules you must follow when working?
- How would you unblock sewer mainlines?
How Long Does It Take to Become a Plumber?
The time it takes to become a plumber will depend on the training you decide to get. If you go to a vocational school, your program can take a few weeks or a couple of years. You can also enter the field right after high school. Either way, you have to complete a four-year apprenticeship.
Should You Become a Plumber in 2021?
Yes, you should become a plumber in 2021. Every home, office, and institution needs plumbing to operate. Therefore, it is definitely a good career path. Being a plumber offers a stable and secure income.
If you’d like to become a plumber, you will need to have good communication skills and attention to detail. Make sure to stay active online and promote your services, and you could one day become a business owner with your own plumbing company.
Is being a plumber hard work?
No, plumbing isn’t considered a challenging job. However, it depends on the conditions you’re working in. For example, if you’re working on old buildings, certain tasks could be more challenging.
What are the main tools that plumbers use?
Some of the most common tools used by plumbers include drain cleaning chemicals, plungers, sink augers, and a plumber’s snake. These vary depending on the job you need to do.
Do plumbers work nine to five?
Your working hours depend on whether you’re working for yourself or for someone else. The majority of plumbers do work from nine to five, 40 hours a week. However, others only work for a couple of hours a day.
What math do plumbers use?
Although it is a very practical job, plumbers do use math daily. They mostly work with geometry, basic algebra, and the 45-degree formula to calculate metrics.