How To Become a Plumber

To become a Plumber-Fitter you will need to be good at solving problems, have the ability to follow technical plans, and understand the importance of health and safety.

Employment of plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters is projected to grow 12 percent from 2014 to 2024, faster than the average for all occupations. Construction of buildings which need new plumbing systems should drive demand for these workers. Overall job opportunities are expected to be good, with some employers continuing to report difficulty finding qualified workers.To discover if this career is for you, take one of our quizzes.

Plumber-Fitter Salary

  • Average Salary: $49,740
  • Expected Lifetime Earnings: $2,042,860

Plumber-Fitter – Education

To become a plumber, you need to have a high school or GED test diploma, and already at high school, it may be wise to follow related courses. Technical schools provide programs that educate applicants on pipe system design, knowledge of materials, safety at the workplace, and how to use different tools. The schools also provide offer welding courses, and though plumbers may benefit as well, this knowledge is necessary for pipefitters and steamfitters when they are entering an apprenticeship training program. If you wish to see if the profession of plumber/fitter may be good for you, you are welcome to use our free career aptitude quiz.

The majority of plumbers (just like pipefitters and steamfitters) will learn their profession via four or five-year apprenticeships. During their apprenticeship, they are required to have no less than 1,800 hours of on-the-job training and at least 246 hours of technical education in their specific concentration. During their apprenticeships, they learn blueprint reading, local and state plumbing regulations and codes, and safety instructions. On top of that, they will be trained in applied physics, mathematics, and chemistry.

Apprenticeships are usually provided by businesses and unions, and although in general, applicants enter apprenticeships, we also see plumbers that started out as helpers and learn their trade on the job where employers enable them to become qualified via specific skill- and task-oriented education and training. Upon completion of apprenticeship programs, they are qualified to perform plumbing duties by themselves. Through additional courses, certification programs, and a number of plumbing experience years, these professionals qualify to earn master status, which in some states is required to be able to get licensure as a plumbing contractor.

Plumber-Fitter – The Job

Plumbers and fitters are in the business of installing and repairing water, gas, and drainage pipes in factories, homes, businesses, or other sites. Plumbers install and maintain water lines of all types, from pipes that supply water to commercial buildings to smaller pipes that are used for the transportation of water to, for example, refrigerators.

Plumbers are also in the business of installing plumbing fixtures such as toilets, showers, bathtubs, and sinks. Generally, they also can be found installing appliances such as water heaters, dishwashers, or garbage disposals, and they also repair plumbing problems. Plumbers for example, when a pipe is leaking or clogged, will replace the pipe, or remove the clog, and there are also plumbers who are maintaining their customers’ septic tank systems, large underground systems that collect waste and water from buildings that are not connected to public sewer system.

Plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters are in the business of installing fixtures and pipes and use blueprints for their installation work while adhering to local and state regulations and building codes. They inspect existing pipelines and pipe systems and locate problems within the systems. They determine how much and which materials must be used and what sort of equipment is needed. Plumbers install fittings and pipes that carry air, steam, gas, water, or other liquids. They typically connect pipes, and carry out pressure tests to make sure the pipe system is water and airtight.

Where do they work?

Plumbers pipefitters, and steamfitters may work indoors, but some work outdoors as well, and even in bad weather. They can be found installing, maintaining, and repairing various sorts of pipe systems, such as systems for carrying water, or dispose of water and waste, while other systems are supplying gas to ovens used for heating or cooling buildings. Other pipe systems again, for example, those used in power plants, are carrying produced steam to power huge turbines, while pipe systems are also used in production or manufacturing plants for the transportation of gases, acids, or waste production byproducts.

Plumbers can often be found at construction sites, and master plumbers are frequently developing the required blueprints that indicate where exactly various pipes and fixtures will be needed. Their work ensures that all plumbing is meeting local and state building codes, that it is done within budget, and that the installation work does not cause any problems for other construction work like electric wires. The construction techniques and materials that plumbers choose, will depend on the kind and the nature of a project.

Plumbers who install residential water systems generally use steel, copper, and plastic pipes, work that can be done by one or two plumbers, while for water systems of power plants, on the other hand, large steel pipes are used that require a team of pipefitters. We can also find plumbers and pipefitters installing pipes in factories and at dairy farms made of stainless steel to prevent any kind of contamination. In general, we can say that plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters are operating in homes, factories, businesses, or in any place where pipe systems are needed. Not everybody is well-equipped to do this work.

Health and injuries

Plumbers and fitters frequently need to work in tight spaces, lift heavy materials, and climb ladders, and we can see a rate of illnesses and injuries that is higher than the average. Common injuries are severe cuts caused by sharp tools, bad burns caused by welding or soldering gear or from hot pipes, and falls from ladders occur frequently as well.

Job outlook and wages

In 2014, there were around 387,000 professional plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters in America, and almost 60 percent were full-time employed in the plumbing, air-conditioning, or heating industry. Just over ten percent run their own small businesses and were self-employed. Over the coming decade, job perspectives for these professionals are better than average and employment opportunities are expected to grow by some 20 percent.

Construction of residential and commercial buildings, as well as the replacement of old septic systems, are great drivers of demand for these professionals. Many employers report great difficulty finding enough qualified employees and this boosts their income perspective as well. In 2014, the median hourly wage was around $23.90, and the overall annual income for plumbers, steamfitters, and pipefitters was around $49,740.