How to Start Your Plumbing Career
Plumbers are a career that is always in demand. They make a decent wage averaging $58,262 per year and $28 per hour according to salary.com. The U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics states that plumbers with many years of experience under their belt can earn somewhere between $90,000 and $95,000.
This is great earning potential and it does not require earning an advanced degree. Plumbers have flexibility in their work hours and the option to either work for an established company or become their own boss as a self employed plumbing contractor. Plumbers have a different jobsite everyday, going wherever the work needs to be done. If sitting in a cubicle 8 to 5 sounds like torture, the work routine of a plumber might be better for your temperament. Sometimes plumbers will be called in an emergency situation, so you must be ok with working late or on the weekends if the need arises.
Job Expectations of a Plumber
Plumbing contractors are needed for a variety of reasons. They can install pipes for new home construction, business construction or remodeling projectIf a pipe burst or is clogged,plumbers are on call for emergency repair needs.Plumbers work with any of the fixtures in the home that involve water such as sinks, outdoor spigots, sprinklers, toilets, showers, bathtubs, garbage disposals and many other applications. If you are interested in working with new construction you will need to be able to accurately read blueprints. Any mistakes can be costly for the project’s budget.
What Type of Training do I Need?
You will need to be a high school graduate with either a GED or diploma. There are trade schools that offer certification courses. These are shorter and much more targeted than college degrees programs for plumbers, typically lasting 6 months to a year. Topics covered in most educational courses would include pipe cutting, pipe soldering, water heater maintenance and installation systems, draining and venting, plumbing codes and other relevant issues. Plumbers should be very skilled in math as you will need to make exact measurements and calculations while working and providing estimates.
There is only so much you can learn in a classroom setting. Hands on training is the most important aspect of learning the skills required to be a successful plumber. If you have the time to devote toward a lengthier plumbing education program it may open up opportunities for advanced positions, but most plumbers learn on an apprenticeship basis and are quite successful.
You can expect your apprentice program to last anywhere from 2-5 years. You can locate opportunities to train as an apprentice through local unions, professional associations and vocational schools. Some businesses will hire interns to work for them and cover the cost of your training. Apprenticeships are essentially paid internships. USually the pay starts at about half of what a licensed plumber would make and steadily increases for each year that you are working as an apprentice.
Becoming More Experienced
Depending on your state you will need to take an exam either during your apprenticeship or after it is completed in order to become a licensed plumber. Keeping a clean driving and criminal record will also help you be able to obtain employment as a plumber. Your state board may also require you to complete an interview before becoming licensed as a beginner or journeyman plumber. A journeyman plumber is basically your entry level plumber, but has the required licensing to work without supervision from another plumber. Working independently will bring greater earnings, but you can add to your earning potential by taking more classes to further your knowledge in a specific area of plumbing. Ongoing requirements to maintain your state license may include additional tests and classes depending on your place of residence. Eventually you will get to the level of master plumber where you can own your own plumbing operation as well as pay it forward by training new apprentices on the job.