A study conducted in the Spring of 2021 by the National Association of Home Builders reported a 55% shortage of plumbers available for work. With revenues topping $107 billion in 2021, the plumbing industry ranks fifth in the overall construction industry by market size. Since the construction trades that require more years of formal education, specialized training, or licensing tend to offer higher annual wages, it is no surprise that half of the plumbers in construction earn over $54,880, with the top quartile making over $73,850.
Interested in Becoming a Plumber?
To combat the 55% shortage of plumbers, many companies and trade organizations are addressing the need by focusing on recruiting new entrants into the profession. The first step in becoming a licensed plumber is getting your education. High school graduates have the best chance of landing a plumbing apprenticeship because of the English, Math, and Applied Physics skills required on the aptitude test. A GED certificate is an acceptable substitute in most apprenticeship programs if you don’t have a high school diploma. Most apprenticeship programs are offered by trade schools, industry organizations, state programs, and industry service companies. You apply and interview for a program just as you would for a job.
Plumbing is a profession with three distinct experience levels:
Apprentice – As a plumber apprentice, you’ll be completing plumbing jobs under the supervision of a journeyman or a master plumber. You will also be responsible for coursework. While state requirements vary, you should expect to complete at least 2000 hours of work experience per year, and another 250 classroom hours a year. The programs take three to five years to finish both the classroom and supervised on-the-job training.
Journeyman – You become a journeyman plumber once you have achieved the requirements of your apprenticeship and completed the licensure exam in your state. Once you pass the exam, you can go out on plumbing service calls without supervision.
Master Plumber– After you have completed five consistent years as a journeyman, you are eligible to become a master plumber. Additional training and education, along with another exam, are necessary to achieve this licensure.
Apprenticeship & Journeyman Programs
The U.S. Department of Labor reported that at the end of 2020 there were 26,000 registered apprenticeship programs in the Country with 221,000 applicants entering the programs (15,700 or 7% in plumbing) and 82,000 graduating.
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