Why Become a Plumber?

Plumbing is not a crap job. In fact, it’s quite the opposite as plumbing technicians have mobility; working on a variety of job sites and projects as well as have the ability to make upwards of $97k. Really cool new technologies (tankless water heaters, wifi leak detectors, smart appliances) have been introduced into the field.  Having to deal with water, steam, gas, and other natural elements, plumbers can be regarded as the doctors of our mechanical systems ensuring everything is working correctly. Plumbing is an in demand career path filled with great opportunities.

Career Pathways

Becoming a Plumber

Technical College

Certificate program offers students skills in plumbing technology, construction, maintenance, and repair. Students completing a plumbing certificate program are prepared for employment as a plumbing technician. Standard pathway to obtaining a technical degree includes:

Meet Education Requirements
High school diploma or GED required
Attend Technical College or Trade School
Minimum of 2 semesters is required required
Get Licensed to Start Working
Use trade and on-the-job knowledge to pass exam

*Please note, requirements may vary by State and location. As well, licensure isn’t required to start working in this profession.

Straight to Workforce

Some plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters learn on the job through specific task-oriented training. After completing an apprenticeship program, plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters are considered to be journey workers, qualifying them to perform duties on their own. With additional technical education and several years of plumbing experience, plumbers are eligible to earn master status. Some states require a business to employ a master plumber in order to obtain a plumbing contractor’s license

Plumber Licensing

Most states require plumbers to obtain a license before performing plumbing work. Some states, like Florida and New York, do not have state-level licenses but defer licensing responsibilities to county and city governments. Plumber licensing follows a progression based on education, experience, and the passage of exams. Most states have three stages of plumber licensing: Apprentice, journeyman, and master.

Plumber Apprentice

Apprenticeships generally include a classroom component as well as substantial on-the-job training. Although relatively few states require plumber apprentices to hold a license, prerequisites must be met before a candidate is considered for an apprenticeship. In most cases candidates must be at least 18 years old and have a high school diploma or GED. After obtaining an apprentice license or being accepted into an apprentice program, individuals can perform limited duties under the supervision of a journeyman or master plumber.

Journeyman Plumber

Before getting a journeyman license, candidates must meet education and experience requirements and then pass an exam. Prerequisites vary by state, but candidates will typically need 4 years of work experience as an apprentice to sit for the journeyman exam. Some states allow classroom hours to be substituted for a portion of the experience requirement. A journeyman license generally allows a licensee to work independently, and journeymen are often called upon to supervise the work of apprentices.

Master Plumber

In order to become a master plumber, candidates in most states are required to meet additional experience and exam requirements. Many states require candidates to have at least two years of experience as a journeyman before applying for a master license. Licensed master plumbers are able to supervise the work of junior plumbers, pull permits for projects, and operate plumbing businesses.

Specialty License Types

Many states offer specialty license classifications in addition to the apprentice, journeyman, and master designations. In Washington, plumbers can become licensed in the following specialties: residential, pump and irrigation, domestic well, and backflow. Specialty licenses typically require less experience than full journeyman or master licenses.

Trade Career Opportunities for Plumbers


Install and repair water, drainage, and gas pipes in homes, businesses, and factories. They install and repair large water lines, such as those which supply water to buildings, and smaller ones, including lines that supply water to refrigerators. Plumbers also install plumbing fixtures—bathtubs, showers, sinks, and toilets—and appliances such as dishwashers, garbage disposals, and water heaters. In addition, they fix plumbing problems. Some plumbers maintain septic systems—the large, underground holding tanks that collect waste from houses not connected to a city or county’s sewer system.


Install and maintain pipes that carry chemicals, acids, and gases. These pipes are used mostly in manufacturing, commercial, and industrial settings. Fitters often install and repair pipe systems in power plants, as well as heating and cooling systems in large office buildings.

Business Owner

Use the skills and experience learned from technical degree, apprenticeship, or on the job training and start a business to become your own boss.

Source: Zippia Logo

**Above career path chart shows how you might advance from one job title to another within the trade industry; not all trade pathways are the same and depend on each person’s ultimate goals and job opportunities


Have a career path in mind? Find apprenticeship opportunities near you.

Dual Enrollment

Maximize education and career training by taking courses that earn college and high school credit at the same time.

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