Plumbing Training Center

Commercial buildings, industrial complexes, and homes all have piping systems to feed these structures with water and gas as well as remove wastewater and sewage from them. The job of the plumber is to install, service, and repair these piping systems per building code and safety standards.

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At a Glance

Plumbing Training CenterOther Job Titles: Pipefitters, steamfitters
Salary Range/Pay:[1]
$29,020-$84,440; Median $49,140
Education/Training Required:
Program at a vocational/technical school plus multi-year apprenticeship
Desired Skills/Aptitude:
Mechanical, physical stamina/strength, troubleshooter, attention to detail
Certification/Licensing:
Licensing required by each state and requirements vary
Locations with Best Opportunities[2]:
Texas, California, New York, Pennsylvania, Florida
Employment Outlook:
Expected 26% growth through 2020 (faster when compared to average)
Opportunities for Advancement:
Advancement to management with experience; Some open their own business

What a Plumber Does

While the concept of piping systems may seem simple to the lay person, they are much more than that. Consider that if piping systems are not installed or repaired properly that they could present serious health hazards for occupants of the various structures. Thus plumbers work under strict standards and perform jobs such as:

  • Installation of pipes in either new construction or existing structures
  • Making tests and inspections of already installed piping systems
  • Replacing worn or corroded components
  • Troubleshooting problems in currently installed pipes
  • Replace leaky water fixtures such as faucets
  • Install and service drainage systems
  • Unclog blocks in sewage pipes
  • Repair breaks and leaks in lines
  • Use soldering techniques to join pipe sections

These are the main jobs that plumbers perform. They may also perform variations of special situations dealing with pipes that feed or extract water or gas from structures.

Plumbers also learn how to join pipes using a process known as sweat soldering. This type of soldering takes special skill to get it right the first time and when done right it joins two sections of pipe tightly with no leaks.

The Workplace

Plumbers work at construction sites or existing structures either indoors or outdoors. For example, plumbers laying a new water line into a home will work outdoors laying the pipe between the city water main and the house. Thus, they might have to work in inclement weather conditions.

Indoors, they may have to work in tight crawl spaces or climb into attics if overhead piping is installed. They may also have to get behind walls to repair or replace leaky gas and water lines. Leaks or backed up plumbing in a house can sometimes present unsanitary situations because of standing septic water.

Education and Certification

Apprenticeship is the way most plumbers enter into the field. These apprenticeship programs can last for 4 or 5 years. There are those who also start their education in plumbing through a technical or trade school. Apprenticeships are paid positions and those in them complete between 1,700 and 2,000 hours of on-the-job training plus at least 246 hours of technical education.

In their apprenticeship programs they learn many things with the main topics being the various types of piping systems and how to install or work on them. Their education might also include coursework in chemistry and mathematics.

These apprenticeship programs may be sponsored by a trade union or local business and have entry requirements such as being 18 years of age, a high school graduate or equivalent, and be drug-free. The program requirements may also include testing for basic mathematic as well as computer skills. Once trainees are finished with their apprenticeship programs, they are qualified to work alone and are designated as journey workers.

More than likely, your state or local municipality will require plumbers to be licensed. You should check with your state’s licensing authority to find out the specific requirements and exams that need to be taken. Exams for licensing usually cover plumbing codes in your area plus trade-specific knowledge.

 


[1] Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, Plumbers, Pipefitters, Steamfitters, on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes472152.htm

[2] Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, Plumbers, Pipefitters, Steamfitters, on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes472152.htm