As our infrastructure ages and the trade workforce diminishes, the need for plumbers has reached unprecedented levels. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, plumbing jobs will accelerate in the next decade. With the proper training, you have the potential to embark on a rewarding and scalable career in this high-demand field.

Education & Training

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How Long Does a Plumbing Course Take?

Vocational college or trade school programs may last anywhere between 6 months to 2 years, depending on the depth of the curriculum and the inclusion of apprenticeship opportunities. Online programs, such as the ones above, take about 12 months. The advantage to online programs is that students may start at anytime.

Should the program you pursue not include apprenticeships as a part of the curriculum, you may need to follow one after completing your certification course. This may take an additional year or two, depending on state requirements for plumbing licenses and the organization or plumber you serve under.

The educational pathway to becoming a fully qualified and licensed plumber may take up to 4 years.

Certificate Programs

A certificate program is typically a short-term program that offers training in specific skills. Certificates are usually issued in six months or less, but some can take longer if they require classroom time or other factors that extend the length of the program. Most students complete these programs as part of an associate’s degree program or as standalone programs that prepare them for careers in specific areas of the industry.

Degree Programs

Degree programs offer more advanced training than certificate programs but less than apprenticeship programs do. These programs often require two years or more of study while certificate programs usually take one year or less. Students who complete these programs sometimes go on to become licensed plumbers after graduating and completing an apprenticeship program under a licensed tradesperson’s supervision.

Apprenticeship Programs

Apprenticeships allow students to experience hands-on training while earning an income at the same time. Apprenticeships typically last four years, but some states require five years of training before awarding plumbers’ licenses.

Most apprenticeships are under unions such as:

You can even find other registered apprenticeships through the Department of Labor.

How Much Does it Cost?

On average, vocational colleges and trade school programs in plumbing can range from $700 to $3,000. The aforementioned online programs cost about $2300.

Apprenticeships typically involve paid on-the-job training, but there may be associated costs for textbooks and tools. Certification exams and licensing fees also contribute to the overall expense.

What Courses Do You Study?

Good courses in a vocational plumbing program should include the following elements:

  • An Introduction to Plumbing: The history, codes, and principles of plumbing, as well as essential tools, safety skills, and mathematical knowledge involved.
  • The Anatomy of Plumbing: Water supplies and sources, waste and sewage disposal, piping materials, and plumbing fixtures.
  • Vital Skills in Plumbing: Basic geometry, how to construct building plans, blueprint drawings, and sketches; the basics of pipe joining and welding.
  • Construction: Hoisting and rigging, installing fixture supports, building drains, and vital safety concepts in plumbing.
  • Customer Service: Customer expectations, traits of outstanding customer representatives, communication skills, and helping upset customers.
  • Heating and cooling systems: Learn how to install systems, fix broken parts and diagnose problems with heating and cooling systems.
  • Pipes and drains: Learn how to repair leaks in pipes, drains and sewage lines. You’ll also learn how to install new pipes and drains.
  • Water heaters: Learn how to repair these tanks that provide hot water for your home or business.
  • Water treatment: Learn how to test water quality, filter water and remove impurities from water sources such as lakes or rivers.
  • Plumbing codes: Learn about federal, state and local building codes related to plumbing systems that must be followed during construction projects. You’ll also learn about regulations for waste disposal facilities such as septic tanks.
  • Sewer systems: You can learn about installing or repairing sewer lines — both inside homes or businesses and underground in public areas such as streets and parks.

Benefits of Taking a Plumbing Training Course

Advantages of the Online Route

Choosing a self-paced, online plumbing program (particularly over a traditional classroom format) presents many advantages for aspiring plumbers. Distance learning programs’ primary benefit is flexibility; learners can tailor their study schedules to accommodate personal and professional commitments while enhancing their future careers. This autonomy can foster a more personalized learning experience, catering to individual needs and allowing students to grasp concepts at their own pace.

Self-paced courses often leverage interactive experiences through multimedia material and hands-on opportunities, facilitating a dynamic and engaging learning environment without sacrificing flexibility. Additionally, online platforms can provide accessibility to a wealth of resources, enabling comprehensive understanding and skill development.

Geographic constraints are also not a concern with online programs. The adaptability, personalized approaches, and accessibility of self-paced and online plumbing courses offer an appealing option for those seeking to upgrade their skills and careers while managing a busy lifestyle.

Career Benefits

Licensing Requirements

While not all states require plumbers to have licenses, most do require some type of formal training before they can work legally in the field. In addition to this requirement, many states require plumbers to get continuing education throughout their careers


It will be easier for you to find work. A lot of skilled laborers are needed in the trades, and a plumber job is one of them. If you get an education, it will make it easier for you to find work because employers know that you have the skills necessary to do the job well.


You will be more knowledgeable and better able to handle any problem that comes up with your clients’ plumbing systems. The more you know about plumbing systems and their parts, the better equipped you will be to fix any problem that might arise with them.

Earning Power

You can earn higher wages as a result of having an education in this field. Plumbers who have completed their education often make more money than those who haven’t because they have more knowledge about how things work and how they should be fixed when there are problems associated with them.

how to become a plumber in 5 steps

Salary & Career Outlook

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median income for plumbers and pipefitters is $60,090 per year, or $28.89 per hour.

Employment is expected to grow at 2% annually, meeting national average standards. Additionally, over 42,000 positions are forecasted to open each year, making a venture into plumbing a promising career choice for anyone entering the workforce.

Many people in this line of work belong to a union and receive excellent perks. Most associates enjoy the following plumbing benefits:

  • Paid, on-the-job plumbing training
  • Access to a 401(k) retirement plan
  • Paid time off for vacation and sick days
  • Life insurance
  • Medical insurance
  • Dental and vision coverage
  • Employee assistance programs for counseling services
  • Maternity and paternity leave
  • Company car and mobile phone
  • Assistance with ongoing plumbing education

Career Overview

Plumbers play a crucial role in maintaining and enhancing the functionality of water and drainage systems. As skilled technicians, they are responsible for installing, repairing, and maintaining plumbing fixtures. Plumbers navigate intricate systems to ensure the efficient flow of water and the proper disposal of waste.

To embark on becoming a plumber, individuals typically start with foundational education before progressing to specialized training or guided employment as an apprentice. Here, we break down some key details about the
career path of plumbers.

Why are Plumbers Needed?

Plumbers are indispensable for maintaining the fundamental infrastructure of water supply and drainage. With the complexity of modern plumbing technologies, plumbers navigate intricate networks to guarantee efficient water distribution and waste disposal. Ultimately, plumbers are essential for safeguarding public health, preserving property integrity, and sustaining the overall functionality of water and sanitation systems.

What Requirements Must Plumbers Meet To Find Work?

A high school education is usually the minimum requirement to get into the field. Employers prefer those who have taken plumbing classes. Some companies offer promising recruits paid on-the-job training. Universities do not offer plumbing degrees, so many hopefuls train at trade schools or vocational camps.

Whether schooling comes onsite or from a plumbing school, training can last up to five years. This is due to the large volume of knowledge required to become a plumber. Recruits must be familiar with plumbing codes, water distribution methods, and blueprint reading. They need to know proper tool usage along with the differences between piping types and systems.

Where Can Plumbers Find Work?

As a plumber, you are privy to employment opportunities across diverse settings, contributing your expertise to various industries. Professionals with plumbing resumes can find work anywhere there are piping or septic systems.

Residential spaces rely on plumbers for installing and maintaining household plumbing systems.

Commercial establishments, such as offices and retail spaces, require plumbing professionals for routine maintenance and emergency repairs.

In the industrial sector, plumbers are essential for managing large-scale plumbing systems in factories and manufacturing plants.

Additionally, plumbers play a critical role in infrastructure development, contributing to the construction of new buildings and facilities. Their skills are also sought in municipal services for maintaining public plumbing systems. Plumbers have a wide range of employment avenues, ensuring their expertise is crucial across multiple sectors.

Below are some specific industries and sectors:

  • Governments
  • Plumbing or HVAC contractors
  • Manufacturers
  • Construction companies
  • Power plants
  • Commercial properties
  • Waste disposal plants
  • Water treatment centers

What is the Work Environment Like?

Plumbers work in diverse environments, from residential homes and commercial buildings to industrial facilities. The nature of their job often involves hands-on work, requiring physical dexterity and problem-solving skills.

Plumbers may work in tight spaces, navigating plumbing systems in basements or crawl spaces.

Emergencies, such as repairing burst pipes, can arise, necessitating quick and efficient responses.

While some tasks are planned maintenance, others involve troubleshooting unexpected issues. Plumbers often collaborate with construction teams during new builds.

Overall, the work environment for plumbers is dynamic, combining routine maintenance and unpredictable challenges.

Due to the tight spaces and unpredictable variables, many plumbing work environments could be considered dangerous. Everyday tasks like handling tools and hauling materials can lead to torn muscles or smashed fingers. During installation, piping may need to be maneuvered or held in awkward positions, which might cause soreness and strains.

A typical day can involve traveling to several job sites. Some of these may be outdoors, and weather conditions can get nasty at times.

Work locations often include the following:

  • Factories
  • Businesses
  • Homes
  • Apartments
  • Sports arenas
  • Military bases
  • Government offices

What Are Useful Skills for People in This Field?

Plumbers should be able to solve problems, as they constantly confront puzzles when pinpointing issues.

While accessing a situation, they must find the most efficient way of approaching and fixing the problem. This career presents daily mental challenges and vigorous physical demands.

Other skills would include:

  • A knack for customer service when speaking with clients
  • Communication skills for bidding on jobs, directing coworkers, and explaining procedures
  • Mechanical knowledge for choosing the right tools and performing tasks properly
  • Troubleshooting skills for diagnosing problems with water tanks, sinks, toilets, and tubs
  • Knowledge of math, chemistry, and physics for working with varied materials
  • Physical stamina for enduring rigorous daily tasks
  • Dexterity for precision when handling equipment and maneuvering in small areas
  • Business sense to charge competitive rates and explain services to clients

What Other Careers Can Plumbers Pursue?

Plumbers can get into pipefitting, which focuses on the joining of pipes at a variety of worksites. Associates can also learn specialties to become sprinkler fitters or gas fitters, maintaining industry specific lines.

Steamfitters are workers who set up pipe systems that move pressurized steam. They often find jobs at power plants, supervising operations while turbines generate electricity through the flow of steam.

Boilermakers work with large containers called boilers that hold various gases or liquids. Common job sites include factories, commercial buildings, merchant ships, and naval craft. Their principal task is to maintain and restore function to boilers, which are giant vats that heat liquids or gases in order to generate electricity. Yearly salaries can exceed $60k, and high school graduates enter the workforce quickly with on-the-job training.

The Bottom Line

Plumbing can be a very rewarding career, but it can also be very difficult to break into without the proper training. This is why trade schools are so important. They provide those looking to get into this field with the experience and education they need to make them a viable candidate for employment in this growing industry. It may not be an easy ride, but the rewards of being a professional plumber more than compensate for it.

Local Resources

Becoming a Plumber in California
Becoming a Plumber in Florida
Becoming a Plumber in Illinois
Becoming a Plumber in New York
Becoming a Plumber in Ohio
Becoming a Plumber in Pennsylvania
Becoming a Plumber in Texas

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