CareerExplorer’s step-by-step guide on how to become a plumber.

Step 1

Is becoming a plumber right for me?

The first step to choosing a career is to make sure you are actually willing to commit to pursuing the career. You don’t want to waste your time doing something you don’t want to do. If you’re new here, you should read about:

What do plumbers do?
Career Satisfaction
Are plumbers happy with their careers?
What are plumbers like?

Still unsure if becoming a plumber is the right career path? to find out if this career is right for you. Perhaps you are well-suited to become a plumber or another similar career!

Described by our users as being “shockingly accurate”, you might discover careers you haven’t thought of before.

Step 2

High School

While there are no specific high school courses that are exclusively tailored for plumbers, there are several subjects and courses that can provide a solid foundation of knowledge and skills relevant to the plumbing trade.

  • Math: Mathematics is essential for plumbing work, as it involves measurements, calculations, and understanding of basic algebra and geometry. Courses such as algebra, geometry, and trigonometry can help develop the mathematical skills needed for plumbing tasks.
  • Science: Courses in science, particularly physics and chemistry, can be beneficial for plumbers. Physics helps in understanding concepts related to water flow, pressure, and mechanics, while chemistry provides knowledge about various materials, solvents, and their interactions.
  • Shop/Technical Education: Taking shop or technical education courses can be highly advantageous for aspiring plumbers. These courses provide hands-on experience in working with tools, understanding mechanical systems, and developing practical skills related to plumbing work.
  • Blueprint Reading: Learning how to read and interpret blueprints is an important skill for plumbers. Consider taking courses or workshops that cover blueprint reading, as it will help you understand plumbing plans, symbols, and layouts.
  • Computer Skills: In today's digital age, having basic computer skills is essential. Familiarize yourself with word processing, spreadsheet software, and other basic computer applications. These skills will be useful for documentation, communication, and accessing online resources related to plumbing.
  • Communication Skills: Effective communication is vital in the plumbing profession, as plumbers often interact with clients, contractors, and team members. Taking courses in English, speech, or communications can help develop strong written and verbal communication skills.
Step 3

Steps to Become a Plumber

Becoming a plumber typically involves a combination of education, apprenticeship, and licensing. Here is a detailed explanation of the steps to become a plumber:

  • Obtain a High School Diploma or Equivalent: A high school diploma or GED is typically the minimum educational requirement to pursue a career as a plumber.
  • Research Local Requirements: Plumbing requirements and licensing regulations vary by location. Research and familiarize yourself with the specific requirements in your area. Contact local plumbing associations or licensing boards to gather information on the necessary steps to become a plumber.
  • Complete a Plumbing Vocational Program (Optional): While not always mandatory, completing a plumbing vocational program can provide you with formal training and a solid foundation in plumbing principles and practices. Many technical and trade schools offer plumbing programs that cover topics such as pipe systems, plumbing codes, blueprint reading, and safety procedures. These programs often include hands-on training in a simulated plumbing environment.
  • Secure an Apprenticeship: Apprenticeship is a crucial part of becoming a plumber. It combines on-the-job training with classroom instruction and is typically sponsored by a plumbing company, union, or contractor association. To secure an apprenticeship, you can reach out to local plumbing companies, trade unions, or industry associations to inquire about available opportunities. Apprenticeships typically last four to five years, during which you will work under the guidance of experienced plumbers, gaining practical skills and knowledge in various aspects of plumbing.
  • Complete the Apprenticeship Program: Throughout your apprenticeship, you will undergo comprehensive training in plumbing systems, pipefitting, welding, blueprint reading, safety protocols, and local plumbing codes. You will gradually take on more responsibilities and tasks as you develop your skills under the supervision of experienced professionals.
  • Obtain a Journeyman License: After successfully completing your apprenticeship, you will typically need to obtain a journeyman license to work independently as a plumber. The requirements for obtaining a journeyman license vary by location but generally involve passing an exam that assesses your plumbing knowledge and skills. Some jurisdictions may also require a certain number of documented work hours as an apprentice.
  • Gain Experience and Specialize (Optional): Once you have obtained your journeyman license, you can choose to gain further experience and specialize in specific areas of plumbing, such as residential, commercial, or industrial plumbing. This can involve working on more complex projects or pursuing additional training or certifications to enhance your expertise.
  • Consider Obtaining a Master Plumber License (Optional): In some jurisdictions, plumbers have the opportunity to pursue a master plumber license. A master plumber license allows you to work in advanced plumbing roles, oversee projects, and potentially start your own plumbing business. Requirements for obtaining a master plumber license typically include several years of experience as a journeyman plumber, passing an exam, and meeting specific educational or training criteria.
Step 4

Apprenticeship Details

Apprenticeship is a crucial part of becoming a plumber and involves a combination of on-the-job training and classroom instruction. Here are the key details about apprenticeship for plumbers:

  • Finding an Apprenticeship Program: To start your plumbing apprenticeship, you'll need to find an apprenticeship program sponsored by a plumbing company, trade union, or contractor association. Reach out to local plumbing companies, trade unions, or industry associations to inquire about available apprenticeship opportunities. They can provide information on how to apply and guide you through the application process.
  • Entry Requirements: Each apprenticeship program may have its own specific entry requirements. Generally, you will need to be at least 18 years old and have a high school diploma or equivalent (such as a GED). Some programs may require you to pass a basic aptitude test or have relevant coursework in math or science.
  • Program Duration: Plumbing apprenticeship programs typically last four to five years. During this time, you'll work alongside experienced plumbers and gain practical experience on job sites. The program will also include classroom instruction where you'll learn theoretical aspects of plumbing, such as plumbing codes, blueprint reading, safety protocols, and pipefitting.
  • On-the-Job Training: As an apprentice, you'll receive on-the-job training from experienced plumbers who will mentor and guide you. You'll learn various skills and tasks involved in plumbing, including pipe installation, soldering, fixture installation, drainage systems, and troubleshooting plumbing issues. Over time, you'll take on more responsibilities and work on increasingly complex projects.
  • Classroom Instruction: In addition to hands-on training, apprenticeship programs often include classroom instruction. This classroom training covers theoretical knowledge necessary for plumbing work, such as understanding plumbing systems, codes, regulations, safety practices, and blueprint reading. It provides a comprehensive understanding of plumbing principles to complement your practical experience.
  • Wages and Benefits: Apprentices typically earn a percentage of the wage of a journeyman plumber. As you progress through the apprenticeship, your wages may increase incrementally. Additionally, apprenticeship programs often provide benefits such as healthcare coverage, retirement plans, and paid holidays.
  • Licensing and Certification: Depending on your jurisdiction, completing an apprenticeship may be a requirement to qualify for a journeyman plumber license. The apprenticeship program will equip you with the necessary knowledge and skills to pass the licensing exam. After completing your apprenticeship and obtaining the required work experience, you can apply for a journeyman plumber license to work independently.
Step 5

Journeyman License Details

To obtain a journeyman license as a plumber after completing your apprenticeship, you'll need to follow specific steps that may vary depending on your jurisdiction. Here's a general guide on how to get a journeyman license:

  • Research Local Requirements: Start by researching the licensing requirements specific to your location. Contact your local plumbing association, trade union, or licensing board to gather information on the necessary steps and documents needed to obtain a journeyman license. They can provide you with detailed instructions based on your area's regulations.
  • Document Your Work Experience: Keep a record of your work experience during your apprenticeship. Document the number of hours worked, the tasks you have performed, and the skills you have acquired. Some licensing authorities may require a specific number of work hours to qualify for the journeyman license.
  • Complete Required Education: In some jurisdictions, completing specific educational requirements is necessary to obtain a journeyman license. This may involve attending additional training programs, workshops, or courses related to plumbing codes, regulations, or specialized areas of the trade. Ensure you meet any educational prerequisites set by your licensing authority.
  • Licensing Examination: Most jurisdictions require plumbers to pass a licensing examination to obtain a journeyman license. The exam assesses your knowledge and skills in various aspects of plumbing, including plumbing systems, codes, regulations, safety practices, and blueprint reading. Prepare for the exam by reviewing relevant textbooks, plumbing codes, and practice exams. Consider enrolling in exam preparation courses if available.
  • Submit Application: Once you've fulfilled the necessary requirements, complete the application process to obtain your journeyman license. Follow the instructions provided by your licensing authority, submit the required documentation, and pay any applicable fees. Ensure that all forms are filled out accurately and completely to avoid any delays or complications.
  • Continuing Education and Renewal: After obtaining your journeyman license, it's important to stay up to date with changes in the industry and maintain your professional competence. Many jurisdictions require licensed plumbers to complete continuing education courses periodically to renew their licenses. Stay informed about the renewal process and any additional requirements to maintain your journeyman license.
Step 6

Master Plumber Details

To become a master plumber after working as a journeyman plumber, you'll need to meet certain requirements and follow specific steps. While the exact process may vary depending on your jurisdiction, here's a general guide on how to become a master plumber:

  • Gain Relevant Experience: As a journeyman plumber, continue working in the field to accumulate the necessary experience required to become a master plumber. Most jurisdictions require a minimum number of years (typically five to ten years) of experience as a journeyman before becoming eligible for a master plumber license. During this time, focus on expanding your knowledge and skills by working on a variety of plumbing projects and seeking out opportunities to learn new techniques.
  • Research Licensing Requirements: Research the licensing requirements for master plumbers in your jurisdiction. Contact your local plumbing association, trade union, or licensing board to obtain detailed information on the specific requirements and qualifications needed to become a master plumber. Each jurisdiction may have its own set of criteria, including work experience, educational requirements, and passing a master plumber examination.
  • Complete Required Education: Some jurisdictions may require additional education beyond the journeyman level to become a master plumber. This could include advanced plumbing courses, specialized training programs, or specific certifications. Enroll in relevant educational programs to enhance your knowledge and stay updated with the latest advancements in the plumbing industry.
  • Prepare for the Master Plumber Exam: In most cases, aspiring master plumbers need to pass a licensing examination to demonstrate their expertise and competency in the trade. The exam typically covers a wide range of topics, including plumbing codes, regulations, blueprint reading, advanced plumbing systems, and business practices. Study and prepare for the exam by reviewing textbooks, attending exam preparation courses, and taking practice exams to familiarize yourself with the format and content.
  • Submit Application and Meet Licensing Requirements: Once you've met the necessary experience, education, and examination requirements, submit your application for a master plumber license. Provide all required documentation, including proof of work experience, educational certificates, exam results, and any additional forms or fees as specified by your jurisdiction's licensing authority. Ensure that your application is complete and accurate to avoid any delays in the process.
  • Continuing Education and Renewal: After obtaining your master plumber license, stay informed about any continuing education requirements or renewal processes mandated by your jurisdiction. Many jurisdictions require master plumbers to participate in ongoing professional development activities to maintain their licenses and stay up to date with industry changes.