Plumbers and pipefitters assemble, install, maintain and repair pipe systems utilized to transport water, liquids, air and gases. They install plumbing fixtures such as toilets and bathtubs. They also install refrigeration and heating units. Plumbing and pipefitting are regarded as separate trades, however a number of qualified workers have skills in both fields.
Plumbing and Pipefitting Schools
The Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipefitting Industry of the United States and Canada, and the United Association of Journeymen sponsor plumber and pipefitting programs. These five-year apprenticeships take place around the country and combine work in the field with classroom learning. While learning the trade, apprentices will also be employed by a contractor, allowing them to earn wages during the course of their training.
At the relevant point in the course of program, apprentices will choose a specific curriculum to pursue with the aim of becoming a plumber, pipefitter, or other service technician in the industry. Contact your local union to find out about apprenticeship programs in your area. Note that entry into most programs requires candidates have a high school diploma.
Plumber Education Requirements
Most plumbers, pipefitters and steamfitters meet plumber education requirements through jointly administered apprenticeships or from community colleges and technical schools. Apprenticeship programs usually provide the most thorough training for these occupations. Most of these apprenticeship programs are managed jointly by union locals and their affiliated companies or by nonunion contractor organizations.
Most apprenticeships take 4 to 5 years to complete and include paid on-the-job training and include at least 144 hours of classroom learning each year. Subjects taught in classrooms include drafting and blueprint reading, applied physics and chemistry, mathematics, local plumbing codes, and regulations and safety.
Plumber License and Certification
Most states and communities require plumber training which leads to licensure. Although licensing requirement vary, most localities require workers to have two to five years of experience along with passing an examination that tests their knowledge of local plumbing codes and their knowledge of the trade before they are allowed to work independently. In a few states, pipefitters need to be licensed. A special license is required in several states to work on gas lines.
The Plumbing-Heating Cooling Contractors-National Association in partnership with the GreenPlumbers USA train and certify plumbers all over the nation on energy efficiency and water saving technologies. This certification can help workers trained in this area to acquire more jobs and advance in their careers more quickly.
Resources for Plumbers and Pipefitters
- United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipefitting Industry
- Mechanical Contractors Association of America
- Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors-National Association
- The Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Plumbers, Pipefitters, and Steamfitters, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/construction-and-extraction/plumbers-pipefitters-and-steamfitters.htm
- The United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipefitting Industry, http://www.ua.org/