Education Portal is now! We still offer the same great content and features, with more added every day, just under a new name. Learn more x

How to Become a Plumber: Education and Career Roadmap

Learn the steps for becoming a plumber. Research the various education requirements, training information and experience required for starting a career in plumbing.

View 2 Popular Schools »

Do I Want to Be a Plumber?

Plumbers install and maintain plumbing fixtures like bathtubs, sinks and showers for residential, commercial and industrial clients. They also install and repair water and gas pipes, drainage systems, waste disposal systems and appliances, such as dishwashers and water heaters. Successful plumbers usually have solid math and problem-solving skills, high mechanical aptitude, good manual dexterity and a tolerance for working in cramped spaces.

Plumbers often work on-call and may have to work nights and weekends. Injuries like cuts or burns are common in this profession, and plumbers may travel to multiple work sites on a regular basis. Some plumbers are self-employed and have the freedom to set their own schedules. Full-time work and overtime are common for this profession.

Job Requirements

While a formal education may not be required, most plumbers are required to work as apprentices and become licensed by their state. The following table contains the main qualifications and requirements needed to become a plumber, according to career information sites.

Common Requirements
Degree LevelWhile not required, certificate programs can provide specialized training*
LicensureMost states require licensure*
Experience4- to 5-year apprenticeship*
Key SkillsMechanical*, math**, customer service*, decision-making**
Technical SkillsAbility to use pressure gauges, augers, pullers and wrenches**
Additional RequirementsPhysical strength*

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **ONet Online.

Step 1: Get Professional Training

While a formal training program may not be required, it can aid advancement and teach students useful skills that can come in handy on the job. Many trade or technical schools and community colleges offer formal training programs for those individuals who want to become plumbers. These are typically short certificate training programs that last about one year. Coursework covers water supply and drainage systems, as well as piping, venting, fittings and valves. Students can expect to learn plumbing skills and maintenance. They can use this training to begin an apprenticeship as a plumber or go on to earn an associate's degree.

Step 2: Complete an Apprenticeship

Apprenticeship programs are provided by local unions and their affiliates, as well as by non-union contractors. These programs last from 4 to 5 years and combine paid on-the-job training with classroom instruction, which can be either paid or unpaid. On-the-job training should total anywhere from 1,700 to 2,000 hours per year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Apprentices learn local plumbing codes, as well as all types of plumbing procedures, from primary installation of plumbing fixtures to repair and maintenance of water pipes. Trainees also gain special plumbing skills, such as choosing materials and plumbing fittings, identifying grades and types of pipes and using the tools of their trade.

Success Tip:

  • Meet all requirements. To be eligible for an apprenticeship, potential plumbers must first meet specific qualifications mandated by their state. For example, they must be at least 18 years of age and have a high school diploma or the equivalent.

Step 3: Obtain a License

Most states require that plumbers be licensed, according to the BLS, although there are no national uniform licensing standards. In most states, plumbers must have 2 to 5 years of work experience before they can take an examination and obtain a license. The exam requires applicants to know all local codes for plumbing. In some states, plumbers who plan to work on gas lines will need to acquire an additional license.

Success Tip:

  • Be sure to study. The licensing exam assesses an applicant's knowledge of plumbing codes and practices. Some states may offer exam outlines that can be used as study guides. It is important for those who wish to become licensed to take advantage of study material and ask questions while working as apprentices.

Step 4: Additional Certification

In addition to apprenticeship and licensure, plumbers may choose to earn certification. While certification is not required, it might help plumbers advance in their profession and take advantage of new job opportunities. In response to a growing awareness of the need to conserve water, the Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors Association has teamed with GreenPlumbers USA to train and certify plumbers in water and energy efficiency technologies. National Inspection Testing Certification (NITC) also offers the Journey Level Plumber certification.

Show me popular schools

Related to Become a Plumber

  • Related
  • Recently Updated
  • Popular
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...

Construction: Educational Requirements for Becoming a Plumber

Plumbers require significant formal training. Learn about the education, job duties and licensure requirements to see if this...

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...

Plumber: Online Diploma

Learn about online diploma programs in plumbing. This article reveals the lessons and learning formats covered in an online...

Be a Journeyman Plumber: Training and Career Information

Popular Schools

  • School locations:
    • Online Learning

    Online Programs

    • Associate
        • Associate in Construction Technology

    What year did you graduate from high school?

  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Must be 18 years of age or older
    School locations:
    • Online Learning

    Distance Learning Programs

    What is your highest level of education?

Other Schools:

  • School locations:
    • Rhode Island (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at New England Institute of Technology include:
      • Non-Degree: Coursework
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Mechanic and Repair Technologies
      • Construction Management and Trades
        • Plumbing Technology
      • Electrical Repair and Maintenance
      • Vehicle Repair and Maintenance
  • School locations:
    • California (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Stanford University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Mechanic and Repair Technologies
      • Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering
      • Biomedical and Medical Engineering
      • Chemical Engineering
      • Civil Engineering
      • Electrical Engineering and Electronics
      • Environmental Engineering
      • Industrial Engineering
      • Materials Engineering
      • Math
      • Mechanical Engineering
      • Petroleum Engineering
      • Systems Engineering
  • School locations:
    • Massachusetts (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Harvard University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Post Degree Certificate: Postbaccalaureate Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Mechanic and Repair Technologies
      • Dental
      • Medical and Health Preparatory Sciences
      • Medical Residency Programs
      • Public Health and Safety
  • School locations:
    • Pennsylvania (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at University of Pennsylvania include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Post Degree Certificate: First Professional Certificate, Post Master's Certificate, Postbaccalaureate Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Mechanic and Repair Technologies
      • Dental
      • Medical Administrative Services
      • Medical Ethics and Bioethics
      • Medical Residency Programs
      • Mental Health Services
      • Nursing Professions
      • Public Health and Safety
      • Veterinary Medicine and Clinical Sciences

Popular Schools

Avg. Wages For Related Jobs

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics