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Info on Becoming an Apprentice Plumber

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become an apprentice plumber. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about training, job duties, and licensure to find out if this is the career for you.

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An apprenticeship program allows a candidate to learn the trade of plumbing through classroom and on-the-job training. These programs can usually be found through labor unions, the military, or vocational and community colleges. Apprenticeship candidates need to apply and interview for these positions.

Essential Information

To become an apprentice plumber, an individual must enter an apprenticeship program. Plumbing apprenticeships are available through professional organizations, colleges and the military. Programs most universally accepted by employers are approved through the U.S. Department of Labor. They allow an individual to earn a nationally recognized certificate and journey worker status.

Required Education High school diploma or GED
Other Requirements Apprenticeship program
Projected Job Growth* (2014-2024) 12% for all plumbers, pipefitters and steamfitters
Mean Salary* (2015) $55,100 for all plumbers, pipefitters and steamfitters

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Steps to Becoming an Apprentice Plumber

Step 1: Find an Apprenticeship Program

Apprenticeship programs through trade unions or professional associations offer training under a union contract, which means a student receives good wages, insurance and other benefits. One option is an apprenticeship through the United Association (UA). A UA apprenticeship lasts five years, which includes 1,700 to 2,000 hours of on-the-job training and 246 hours of classroom instruction (www.ua.org).

Vocational or community colleges offer apprenticeship programs in plumbing that are often associated or sponsored by a local union or apprenticeship organization. Many of these programs allow a student to earn credits that may later be used to earn an associate degree in the construction field.

The military offers soldiers the chance to work as a plumber through military training programs. The Army, for example, offers a 9-week basic training program for soldiers wishing to become a plumber. This program is similar to traditional apprenticeship programs, offering classroom and hands-on training.

Step 2: Evaluate Programs

Most employers prefer an apprentice enrolled in a registered program. If a program is registered with the U.S. Department of Labor then it ensures that the program meets specific requirements and offers a definite level of training and coursework (www.dol.gov).

Step 3: Apply to the Program

Applying to a plumbing apprenticeship program involves a series of steps. Applicants must fill out an application form, take required entrance tests and complete an interview. Applicants are accepted into programs based upon their qualifications and the information gathered through the application process. Each organization sets the requirements for entrance into its program. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), most organizations have specific requirements that usually include being at least 18 years old, having a high school diploma and meeting grade requirements in specific high school classes (www.bls.gov).

Step 4: Complete the Apprenticeship Program

Once an individual enters an apprenticeship program, he or she signs an agreement that explains the program and its specific requirements. During the program, the individual receives on-the-job training from paid work done with a plumber and receives formal training in the classroom. According to the BLS, most programs involve at least 2,000 hours of training or last approximately two to six years.

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the mean annual salary in 2015 for plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters was $55,100. Job opportunities for these occupations were expected to grow 12%, faster than average, from 2014-2024, the BLS predicted.

Plumbing apprenticeships allow a candidate to learn to become a plumber through classroom and on-the-job training. Requirements vary for these programs but usually include having a high school diploma, filing an application that may have other requirements, successfully interviewing for the position, and passing an exam. The job outlook for plumbers is faster than average.

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