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What a Plumber Does and How to Become a Plumber

Are you tired of being stuck in a manufacturing line or an office cubicle all day long? Are you just finishing high school and looking for a high-paying career but aren't interested in attending a university? Are you good with your hands? Do you like working with people? If you answered yes to these questions, you should look into becoming a plumber.

How to Become a Plumber

Becoming a plumber takes time and there are different levels and specialties of plumbers. Each stage of a plumber career has prerequisites that need to be completed in order to move to the next phase of a career. Whether you decide to attend plumbing school or learn under a licensed plumber, the below sections will help you in your decision making process.

Plumbing Requirements

As with any job, there are certain requirements for becoming a plumber. Education requirements include two different schooling levels.

  • Obtain a high school diploma or equivalent education such as a GED certificate
  • Complete a plumber apprenticeship that lasts from 2 to 5 years, depending on work experience and other specialized training programs

Additional requirements, skills, and character traits include:

  • Ability to work well in cramped spaces
  • Good manual dexterity
  • Comfortable with general math
  • People and communication skills

The Different Stages of a Plumber's Career

Plumber Apprenticeship: The first stage of being a plumber is called an apprenticeship. During this time you will study underneath a Journeyman Plumber or a Master Plumber with the goal of gaining experience. This will be a mix of supervised on-site work as well as traditional education such as plumbing school. In this period you will learn the basics of what it's like to be a plumber and what you will do. There are two ways you can start an plumber apprenticeship:

  • Plumbers Union: Joining a plumbers union is beneficial as they will help you find an opportunity to start a plumber apprenticeship. This is usually the easiest way.
  • Licensed Plumber: Finding a plumber apprenticeship at a licensed plumber is also possible. This can be a bit more difficult to do as it requires their consent and depends upon their availability to provide training.

A plumber apprenticeship will last for about 2 to 6 years or until you have completed all the requirements.

Journeyman Plumber: A journeyman plumber is the second stage of a plumber's career and comes after you have completed a plumber apprenticeship. At this point you will be able to practice the trade on your own. In order to do this though, you will have to pass a licensing exam which will test you on the knowledge you have learned in your plumber apprenticeship. The plumbing license will be require renewal over the years and the timing of renewal is determined by whichever state you live in and can happen every three to five years. There is also continuing education during this stage as well.

Master Plumber: This is the final stage of being a plumber and requires you to work as a Journeyman Plumber for two year consistently. There is also another exam you will need to pass which includes both a written and practical portion. If you successfully pass the exam then you are considered a Master Plumber and can now work in a supervisory role. This also opens the path to new career opportunities such as designing plumbing systems.

What are the Benefits of Being a Plumber?

There are many advantages to becoming a plumber and pursuing a career as a plumber. Here are just a few:

  • High Salary Potential: Journeyman plumbers can make enough to support a family and live comfortably. Master plumbers can earn over $100,000 a year.
  • High Demand: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters is projected to grow 16 percent from 2016 to 2026, much faster than the average for all occupations.
  • Economic Stability: Consumer demand for plumbing services remains high even during tough economic times. There will always be a need for plumbers. Home or business owners may cut back in other areas, but they will still pay a plumber to come fix a broken toilet.
  • Paid Training: Companies will pay you for your work during your apprenticeship. This means you earn money while you are still learning how to do your job, unlike colleges and universities that require you to pay them while you learn.

Plumber Requirements and Qualifications

As with any job, there are certain requirements for this career choice. Education requirements include two different schooling levels.

  • Obtain a high school diploma or equivalent education such as a GED certificate
  • Complete a plumber apprenticeship that lasts from 2 to 5 years, depending on work experience and other specialized training programs

Additional requirements, skills, and character traits include:

  • Ability to work well in cramped spaces
  • Good manual dexterity
  • Comfortable with general math
  • People and communication skills

How Do You Become a Master Plumber?

Becoming a master plumber requires time and experience. To become a master plumber you will have to completed a plumber apprenticeship as well as worked two years as a journeyman plumber. After you have completed your training and education, you will need to pass an examination issued by your state. Every state's requirements vary slightly, but most licensing exams require proficient knowledge in specific areas:

  • Local plumbing codes
  • Plumbing procedures
  • Proper choice of materials and fittings for any given job
  • How to properly use your tools

Many plumbers choose to go into business for themselves as their careers progress. If being a business owner is a goal of yours, you may want to consider obtaining education and training in business, accounting, or management skills in addition to the necessary plumbing licenses.

The Plumbing Professionals at Roto-Rooter

Roto-Rooter is North America's largest provider of plumbing repair services and sewer & drain cleaning services. Millions of homeowners and businesses in all 50 states and across Canada rely on Roto-Rooter plumbers every year. The entire Roto-Rooter system, including independent franchise operations, employs about 7,000 people in North America.

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*Franchise employment opportunities and benefits vary by location and owner/operator