Plumber Certificate and Certification Program Information
A common approach to becoming a plumber is to complete an apprenticeship. For those who don't wish to pursue this option, some schools offer plumbing certificate programs that allow individuals to get classroom and practical training for a career in plumbing.
These 1-year programs can prepare students to work in residential, commercial, and industrial situations. Students explore plumbing theories, system layouts, and tools of the trade. The also learn safety procedures, pipe identification, and trade terminology. Additionally, programs offer practical skill building in repair, maintenance, and troubleshooting of plumbing issues; students may need to buy tools to perform this hands-on work. Upon completing a program, individuals could pursue entry-level positions in plumbing. Graduates need to confirm any state licensure or certification requirements to work as a plumber.
- Prerequisites: High school diploma or GED; Mathematics courses recommended; May be required to bring own tools
- Program Length: One year
The curriculum of a plumbing certificate program is technical in nature with a focus on different aspects of the trade. Students might complete some coursework in mathematics and communications as it relates to plumbing, but most courses are centered on plumbing techniques, tools, and processes. Programs usually contain significant hands-on practice to adequately prepare graduates for employment. Topics typically include:
- Blueprint reading
- Heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems
- Plumbing tools and equipment
- Plumbing materials
- Measuring and calculations
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there were about 386,900 plumbing, pipefitting, and steamfitting jobs in the U.S. in 2012 (www.bls.gov). Plumbers can be self-employed or work as an employee of a construction company. Some of the industries with the highest level of employment included building equipment contracting, nonresidential construction and utilities system construction. The BLS projected a 21% job growth for this field during the 2012-2022 time period. In 2014, the average annual wages for professionals in the plumbing industry was $54,620.
Graduates of a certificate program can continue their education in a construction-related degree program or enter the workforce and begin on-the-job training. According to the BLS, most plumbers require intensive hands-on training before they're able to work on their own. Most states mandate licensure for plumbers, which typically requires experience in the field and passing a test.
To participate in an apprenticeship program, some states require individuals to register with the state and only work under the supervision of a licensed plumber. Some states have different plumbing licenses or certifications based on the type of work performed, such as residential, medical, or gas piping. Credentials might also be awarded depending on the level of experience of a plumber, such as a journeyman, or master plumber.