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How Long Does it Take to Become a Plumber?

plumbing fixing a bathroom pipe

Are you interested in becoming a plumber but unsure how long it takes? Look no further than the team of experts at Goodbee Plumbing. This blog will cover the different ways to become a plumber, the benefits of a career in plumbing, and more, so keep reading to learn more. 

How to Become a Plumber

A career in plumbing does not require a college career. Below we break down the different steps and levels to becoming a plumber. 

High School Diploma or GED

Since becoming a plumber requires you to have a license; you do not need a college degree. However, you will typically need a high school diploma or a GED to start an apprenticeship. Math is frequently used in the plumbing industry, so brush up on your algebra and geometry. If you are no longer in high school, you can always take additional classes at a community college to brush up on your knowledge and skills. 

Become an Apprentice

After getting your diploma or GED, you can attend plumbing school or complete an apprenticeship. Most plumbing hopefuls commonly desire an apprenticeship because it provides hands-on experience and classroom education. Programs vary by state, so be sure to look up your state laws to determine the structure, length, and application requirements for where you live. Apprenticeships can be completed through trade unions, community colleges, trade schools, or private businesses. In some instances, you’ll need to pass an exam or interview with a licensed plumber before beginning. 

Apprenticeships last around four to five years with approximately 2,000 hours of hands-on training. You’ll learn codes and regulations, how to read blueprints, and OSHA safety, as well as fixtures and drainage. In the apprenticeship, you’ll shadow a plumber and receive compensation. 

Go to Trade School

Many plumbers also opt to attend trade school as a first step.

Trade schools will offer special certifications or a two-year associate’s degree. Topics include plumbing theory, water distribution, blueprint reading, draining and venting, pipe cutting, soldering, and electrical basics. After trade school, many apply for apprenticeships. 

Become a Journeyman Plumber

Once you complete your apprenticeship, you can apply to become a licensed journeyman plumber. Upon reaching this status, you can work unsupervised on both commercial and residential projects. To be a journeyman plumber, you’ll need to pass the licensing exam in your state. It’s important to note that you’ll need to renew this license every three to five years and participate in continued education to maintain your status. 

Journeyman plumbers can also work for a plumbing company or state their own business. 

Become a Master Plumber

After becoming a journeyman plumber; many plumbers opt to become master plumbers so they can employ plumbers for this business. However, it’s essential to look at state laws since some states require you to be a journeyman plumber for a certain number of years before becoming a master plumber. To earn this license, you must pass a written and practical exam. You might also need special endorsements and certifications depending on where your business is. 

Plumber Licensing Exam

The State Plumbing Board of Louisiana has exams for both Journeyman and Master Plumbers. To learn about each exam, see below

Journeyman Exam

The Journeyman Plumber exam has two parts. The first part is 80-questions and a three-hour written exam. The second part is an hour-long practical hands-on exam. The written exam is based on the following material: 

  • 2015 International Plumbing Code (IPC)
  • 2015 International Residential Code (IRC)
  • Louisiana Title 17, Construction (Amended December 2019) 

The practical exam includes 

  • Floor Plan Project
  • Screw Pipe Project
  • Copper Project

Master Plumbers Exam

The Master Plumber exam is a three-part written exam. Part one is a three-hour and 80-question exam based on the same materials as the Journeyman exam. Part two is two hours and has 25 questions based on the Title 51 Public Health Sanitary Code (Part 13). Part three is two hours and consists of 40 questions based on the NASCLA Lousiana Master Plumbers and Master Natural Gasfitters Guide to Business, Law, and Project Management, 2nd Edition. 

Applications must be submitted no less than 30 days before the examination.

How Much Do Plumbers Make? 

Across the nation, plumbers make the following: 

  • Entry level (less than 2 years experience): $47,500
  • Intermediate level (2-4 years experience): $55,800
  • Senior level (4-7 years experience): $62,200

To see a state-by-state breakdown of the experience levels, click here.  

Benefits of Becoming a Plumber

There are numerous benefits, such as making a good living, inexpensive education, career opportunities, job security, job satisfaction, and more. 

Make a Good Living

Based on the salaries above; you can see that plumbing is a good career choice to make a good living. Additionally, union plumbers can get nice benefits packages in addition to their salaries. 

Inexpensive Education

Going into plumbing won’t cause you to have massive student loan debt. Additionally, while you are gaining your hands-on experience as an apprentice, you will be paid for your time, unlike many in post-college internships. Plus, if accepted into a union apprenticeship, you will only work four days a week and get paid to attend school weekly, graduating with zero debt. 

Career Opportunities

You can work for a big company or family-owned company or go into business for yourself, providing you with ample career opportunities. 

Job Security

People will always need plumbers, no matter the state of the economy, meaning you have more job security than other industries. 

Job Satisfaction

If you enjoy helping others, plumbing is a career for you! You will go to work each day, eliminating headaches for people and having your efforts acknowledged and appreciated. 

Always Learning

As a licensed plumber, you’ll need to keep up with continued education, meaning that you’ll never be complacent in your work but always learn new methods and techniques. 

Learn More with Goodbee Plumbing 

Whether you need a plumbing position or need a plumber to visit your home or business, contact us today. Also, visit our blog to see if there are any DIY tips you can do before getting a professional. Goodbee is a family-owned and operated business that provides fast and reliable service.  

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