There are a number of sources of training to become a plumber. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that plumbers are one of the highest paid professions in the construction industry. Even better, the BLS expects the demand for plumbers to grow faster than average in the future. With a combination of a high annual income and fast job growth, becoming a plumber could be a good career decision.
On the Job
Many plumbers learn the trade through on the job training working as a plumber’s helper. A plumber’s helper completes routine tasks related to plumbing that do not require advanced skills. For example, a plumber’s helper may measure distances, carry supplies to a job site, cleanup jobsites after the completion of the work and complete other tasks under the direct supervision of a plumber. Over time, a person working as a plumber’s helper will acquire the skills needed to become licensed to work as a plumber.
An apprenticeship is similar to on the job training, except that in an apprentice plumber program a person will complete a standardized training program that offers both on the job training as well as classroom instruction. Apprenticeship programs to teach a person to become a plumber are offered by labor unions, plumbing contractors and other organizations. Generally an apprentice plumber program will take a person four to five years to complete. In some cases, previous training and experience from the military or other related work can be used to substitute for some of the apprenticeship training time. In this phase, you must be able to know some of the technical aspects of plumbing services such as emergency drain cleaning.
Vocational / Technical School
In addition to apprenticeship programs, a number of vocation and technical schools offer educational programs to teach the skills needed to become a plumber. Programs of study will vary in length depending on the depth of the program. Some schools offer two year associate degree programs in plumbing. Schools may also offer specialized training for those interested in working in one particular industry.
Before beginning any training program or working as a plumber’s helper, a person should research the state and local guidelines in their area regarding plumber licensing to make certain that the chosen course of training will meet the guidelines for licensure. Most schools and apprenticeship programs in a particular area will meet that area’s licensing guidelines, but students should be certain before making a commitment to a course of study.