Of all the trades, none pays better than being a plumber. None has more of a variety of applications, and plumbers make good money no matter what the setting, whether it be commercial, industrial, or residential. In short, plumbers are less averse to the ups and downs of any given industry, virtually guaranteeing good pay and job security. But how do you become a plumber? That’s definitely the first step.
Graduating high school or getting your GED
No, you do not need a college degree to become a plumber, that’s the good news. You will need however to have graduated high school or have your GED because you will need to take vocational courses. On top of that, plumbers need to have at least some math skills. The better you are at basic math and geometry, the better the chances of you landing a good job in the plumbing industry.
While jobs are plentiful right now for plumbers and the pay is good, make no mistake: the competition is stiff. Some employers do look at ACT scores even, especially math proficiency. So if you are still in high school and are thinking about becoming a plumber, be sure to do your best.
While in some places vocational study is not required to enter into the trade, in other states it is. The first step to becoming a plumber is to enter into an apprenticeship program, and even in cases where vocational training is not required, it is definitely an advantage.
The Plumbing Apprenticeship Program
Becoming a plumber’s apprentice is where the real work begins. Unlike vocational training, apprenticeship is required. Requirements to become an apprentice vary from state to state, but regulations are mostly uniform when it comes to age (18), and having either your high school diploma or GED. The program lasts generally from 4-5 years and each state has a minimum hours requirement as well.
Other requirements may include:
- A Clean Driving Record
- No Criminal Record
- Valid Driver License/State ID
- Mandatory Drug Testing
You can enter into an apprenticeship either with a local union, or through a private contractor in your area.
Becoming a journeyman plumber
Just like welders and electricians, a plumber must become a journeyman to begin working on his own. Once you’ve met all the requirements as an apprentice, you’ll need to take the plumber’s exam. To qualify to take the exam, you’ll need to fulfill the following requirements:
Get a signed letter from your employer verifying that you have completed the required minimum hours as an apprentice. Be sure to have his or her plumber certification number on the document.
Be sure you have taken the required classes needed to pass the exam.
Register for the exam. Be sure to study hard for the test and take nothing for granted. Some states may only allow you to take the test twice.
The good news is once you’ve past the test, you are now a plumber.