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Master Plumber: Education Requirements and Career Overview

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

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A master plumber has earned state licensure as a plumber whose skills, experience and expertise exceeds that of a journeyman plumber. These individuals have usually completed apprenticeships or college postsecondary training programs related to plumbing, but it's their on- the-job training and experience that usually earns them the title of master.

Essential Information

Master plumbers are journeyman plumbers who have, after a period of classroom and on-the-job training, passed their state's master plumber's examination. To reach this level, they must have completed a basic plumbing training program, usually through a union apprenticeship, but sometimes through a certificate or associate's degree program. After gaining experience, they can take the journeyman plumber's examination and begin gaining the knowledge and experience needed to qualify for the master plumber examination. Plumber's training includes courses in building codes, blueprint reading, safety and even physics, as well as extensive on-the-job practice.

Required Education Apprenticeship or associate's degree in plumbing
Other Requirements On-the-job training; work experience
Licensure and Certification Hold journeyman plumber's license; pass master plumber's examination
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 (BLS).

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Education Requirements for a Career as a Master Plumber

Master plumbers typically begin their careers as apprentices, usually through a plumbers' union apprenticeship program that includes classroom work. Alternatively, they may enroll in a community college certificate program or an associate degree program in plumbing and heating, plumbing technology or a related field.

Apprentices and students learn how to read and draft blueprints. They study basic physics and chemistry, workplace safety and building codes. Hands-on work teaches apprentices about identifying tools and materials, installation, maintenance, servicing components and repairing water pipes.

After completing their chosen program and developing several years of supervised work experience, plumbers may sit for their state's required journeyman plumber licensing exam. With additional on-the-job experience under the direction of a master plumber and additional classroom learning, journeyman plumbers can sit for the master plumber exam. Some states or localities may require continuing education for master plumbers, usually on new codes and regulations or energy efficiency.

Master Plumber Career Overview

Master plumbers use blueprints and tools to install, maintain, service and repair residential and commercial water systems. They may work on drainage, gas, potable water or waste systems. Installation of bathroom fixtures and appliances are also common tasks. Master plumbers may also plan water service systems and sketch blueprints.

Master plumbers may be self-employed or they may work for contractors or government entities; union membership is common. The project-based nature of the job means that a master plumber's work opportunities can fluctuate considerably.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), plumbers, pipefitters and steamfitters can expect a 12% increase in jobs from 2014-2024 (www.bls.gov). This growth is due to new construction, renovation or maintenance of existing structures and the increased use of energy efficient and environmentally-friendly plumbing materials. Plumbers, pipefitters and steamfitters earned a mean annual salary of $55,100 as of May 2015, according to the BLS.

Master plumbers have typically worked as plumbers for a number of years and, through a combination of experience, formal schooling and state licensure, know more than a journeyman plumber about the business. The job outlook for these professionals was expected to remain healthy in the coming years, and the pay averages over $55,000 per year.

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