Plumber Certificate and Certification Program Information

A common approach to becoming a plumber is to complete an apprenticeship, though some schools offer certificate programs that provide classroom and practical training for a career in plumbing.

Essential Information

Plumber certificate programs prepare students to work in residential, commercial, and industrial situations. Students explore plumbing theories, system layouts, and tools of the trade. They also learn safety procedures, pipe identification, and trade terminology. Additionally, these 1-year 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.

Prerequisites may include a high school diploma or GED, with mathematics courses recommended. Students may also need to bring own tools. 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.

Plumbing Certification

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
  • Welding

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there were about 392,000 plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters in the U.S. in 2015 (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 12% job growth for this field during the 2014-2024 time period. In 2015, the average annual wages for plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters was $55,100.

Continuing Education

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.

Aspiring plumbers can enroll in 1-year certificate programs to learn the technical skills need to work in this field. Certain states may have further licensure/certification requirements than others for practicing plumbers.

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