Plumbing Technician: Career Overview

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

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Most plumbing technicians or plumbers complete apprenticeships through local unions or professional organizations in order to prepare for the trade. They may also be required to earn state certification.

Essential Information

Plumbing technicians perform such tasks as unclogging stopped up sinks and fixing pipes that don't allow water to flow freely. In addition to making repairs, they may also install new pipes and perform regular maintenance on them. Some of these professionals get their training on the job, but it is most common for aspiring plumbing technicians to complete an apprenticeship in which they both study in a classroom and receive hands-on training from experienced plumbers.

Required Education On-the-job training or apprenticeship
Projected Job Growth 12% for all plumbers, pipefitters and steamfitters from 2014-2024*
Median Salary (2015) $50,620 annually for all plumbers, pipefitters and steamfitters*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Plumbing Technician Career Overview

Commonly called plumbers, plumbing technicians install, repair and maintain pipes for carrying water, sewage, gas and other liquids to residential, industrial and commercial facilities. They install and repair sinks, toilets and other plumbing fixtures, as well as appliances including dishwashers and garbage disposals. Plumbers also might work with water heaters.

Plumbing technicians can be self-employed or work for other contractors. They also might find work with commercial, government or industrial employers. Oftentimes, plumbers belong to a union, such as the United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipe Fitting Industry of the United States and Canada.

Education for Plumbing Technicians

Although some technicians gain their skills on the job by working with experienced plumbers, most future plumbing technicians begin learning their trade through an apprenticeship. Beginning apprentices must be at least 18 years of age and in good physical shape. They also might need a high school diploma. Apprenticeships generally last 4-5 years and include several hundred hours of classroom instruction to supplement intensive hands-on training. Apprentices gain progressively greater levels of responsibility, leading to increased competence in the skills of the trade. At the completion of an apprenticeship, students are promoted to the rank of journeymen and can earn full wages and be employed as union members.

Salary Information and Career Outlook

In May 2014, there were an estimated 425,000 plumbers, pipe fitters and steamfitters working in the United States, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). These individuals made a median yearly wage of $50,620. The BLS projected that the number of jobs for plumbers, pipe fitters and steamfitters was expected to grow by 12% between 2014 and 2024. Construction and development was expected to create new jobs, as was the impending retirement of some workers in the trade.

Plumbing technicians or plumbers typically unclog pipes, install toilets, repair water heaters and more. The traditional training pathway for this career is an apprenticeship. Faster-than-average job growth is expected for plumbers, pipefitters and steamfitters from 2014-2024.

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