Hands-on experience is essential in training to be a plumber. Students can't get that through an online plumbing diploma program. What an online program will do is prepare students for an apprenticeship and eventual state licensure, as these are required of plumbers in most states. Tools may be required for these programs. Fully online programs are available, though rare.
Students can finish an online program in as little as six months; but it takes years to become a licensed plumber. In fact, students must have 2-5 years of professional work experience and pass an exam in order to be licensed, reported the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS); however, licensing protocol varies by state.
Information and Requirements
In general, diploma programs in plumbing don't require prerequisite or general education courses, but basic math and communication skills are helpful. Tuition usually includes learning materials, such as books and tools; however, it's the student's responsibility to secure access to a computer with broadband Internet connection. Communication with instructors is via multimedia platforms and e-mail, and tests are taken online.
Online plumbing diploma programs often use computer simulations, textbooks and learning modules to cover plumbing principles and practices. Lessons cover such topics as plumbing and pipefitting tools; math for plumbers; interpreting piping prints; and modern plumbing. Common courses are listed below.
Water Supply Systems
This class trains students in the basics of water supply systems. Students examine water treatment and residential water supply systems, such as basement water mains. Additionally, they learn about the proper tools utilized in maintaining these systems.
Plumbing Fittings and Fixtures
Students learn how to calculate proper pipe sizes for gas, sewage and water lines. They also learn how to install and maintain plumbing connections; bathtubs and showers; and restroom fittings and faucets.
Basic pipe soldering is taught in this class. Students are also versed in how to pick the right tool to fix various plumbing problems.
Aspiring plumbers must understand how to read and decipher blueprints. In this course, students learn about the sections of mechanical and architectural drawings and terms associated with schematics. Furthermore, they gain skills in reading blueprints and designing appropriate water, sewage and/or gas systems.
Students explore the National Standard Plumbing Code, Parts 1-5. This class prepares students to pass licensing examinations which test one's knowledge of this code.
As of May 2015, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that plumbers, pipefitters and steamfitters earned a median salary of $50,620. Job opportunities in this field were predicted to grow 12% in the decade spanning 2014-2024 (www.bls.gov).
Prospective plumbers typically apprentice for 4-5 years. During this time, they need to acquire a minimum of 1,700 hours of paid training and at least 246 hours of technical education a year, according to the BLS.
Online plumber diploma programs are rare, but those that are available prepare students for licensure as plumbers. Students must have work experience and pass an exam to become a plumber, and typically also complete an apprenticeship.